WORCESTER Wolves started the new year in style by dismantling Bristol Basketball United 89-71 in NBL Division Two North.

Forced by weather conditions to relocate to the St John's campus from the University of Worcester Arena, Wolves also had to do without coach Dean Blake who was unavailable to oversee operations.

But, roared on by an excitable capacity crowd, Worcester raced to a 12-2 lead by just the third minute and successfully kept Bristol at arm’s length for the rest of Saturday evening.

Kieran Howell, who stepped across from his usual role directing Wolves women’s team to take the coaching reins, said: “I have to give Dean a big shout-out for giving me this chance.

"I said to the players that we needed to start well, that we had to run and that we had to stick together as a team.

“But when I saw everyone fired up in the locker room and the atmosphere from the fans when we came on court, I could see the players were already set to go.

“The guys knew exactly what they had to do – I was just a cheerleader here, the win was definitely all down to the players.”

Humberto Ferreira jumped highest to grab the tip-off, swatted away a Bristol attack and bagged five points before giving way for the return from a lengthy injury lay-off of Matei Balteanu.

Balteanu immediately impacted with a powerful drive and delighted in accepting a pass from another long-term injury returnee, point guard Wilfrid Santhe.

Nine points had gone to the Romanian forward by the time the second period began with Wolves 29-19 to the good.

Emmanuel Yeboah and Jacob Dearman both connected with three-pointers, Balteanu barrelled over defenders and paired again with Santhe to aid a 50-37 half-time cushion.

Yeboah spun to the hoop to open second-half proceedings and James Harrop buried a swift seven points as the hosts maintained 69-54 third-quarter control.

Then Yeboah hurled a lengthy pass for Harrop to convert and jumped every which way for further personal points.

A flying two-handed slam from Ferreira ignited the victory celebrations against ninth-placed Bristol.

Yeboah starred with 25 points, 12 rebounds and nine assists while Balteanu also returned a 17 points/12 rebounds double-double.

Harrop and Zak Riabi supplied 14 and 10 points respectively.

Wolves, who are joint seventh in the table, return to the University of Worcester Arena on Sunday (5pm) to host title-challenging St Helens Saints.