It was a disappointing end to the season for Worcester Wolves who were bested by Teeside Lions in the National Basketball League Division Three playoff final in Manchester on Saturday.

Having trailed for large parts of the contest, Wolves fought back to level matters with just minutes to play but were unable to cope with a late burst from the Lions, who came out 65-56 victors.

Having establishing themselves as one of the top two teams out of the fifty-four who started out the year in Division Three, coach Dean Blake confirmed that Wolves are intent on promotion to the next level.

“We won our region, we had a great run to end the season and we made it through to the playoff final. It wasn’t our day today but I’m so proud of the players for making the season work and I’m so grateful to all our passionate supporters.

“We plan to be in Division Two next season. Lots of work has taken place at the club, on and off the court, to make it happen. We want to move up.”

Worcester News: Worcester's Ian Vivero-Rodriguez led the scoring with 23 pointsWorcester's Ian Vivero-Rodriguez led the scoring with 23 points

Lucas McGregor opened the scoring on Saturday afternoon, before Ian Vivero-Rodriguez and Matei Balteanu got involved in Wolves’ bright start.

However, the Lions big men proved to be too much for Worcester to handle with Theo Turner, Ross Wilson, and Siman Stewart piling on the pressure.

Wolves had accumulated seven fouls come the end of the first quarter as they tried desperately to hold off the Teeside attack, which took a 17-11 lead into the second.

Worcester’s penalty count had risen to 15 by halftime with their opponents still leading, now 29-24.

Worcester News: Matei Balteanu gave Wolves a promising start to the second halfMatei Balteanu gave Wolves a promising start to the second half

In the third quarter, Balteanu was twice able to get the better of Stewart, benefitting from the one-time Worcester forward being called for a technical foul after falling theatrically to the floor.

Despite a quick-fire trio of three-pointers from Vivero-Rodriguez, Worcester were still trailing heading into the final quarter, 43-40.

A Vivero-Rodriguez crossover dribble tied the afternoon at 55-55 before Stewart spun around to re-take the lead for his side.

A demoralising last-minute three from Lions’ Gregor Gray proved to be the final nail in the coffin for Worcester.

Vivero-Rodriguez led the way in totalling 23 points, with Balteanu’s ten making him Worcester’s only other double-digit scorer.

Worcester News: Coach Dean Blake has said Worcester Wolves want to move up to Division Two next seasonCoach Dean Blake has said Worcester Wolves want to move up to Division Two next season

Coach Blake added: “The run of the game wasn’t going for us – even when we took the lead we didn’t take over the match.

“Teeside had a number of players who were always going to keep scoring and obviously our fouls made things more challenging. But we were in the game until the last two minutes, we really were.”

All photos by Cliff Williams