Worcester Wolves 102 Sheffield Sharks 92

WORCESTER Wolves have given themselves a great chance of a trip to Arena Birmingham for January’s BBL Cup final after posting a gutsy 102-92 win over Sheffield Sharks last night.

After stumbling in the early going to fall behind by as many as 11 points, Wolves responded to the urgings of a big University of Worcester Arena crowd to drag themselves back into their semi-final first leg encounter.

By the match’s final minute Wolves had nudged 93-90 ahead before an exciting late burst of scoring achieved a much more comfortable double-digit advantage to take to Sheffield for the return meeting on December 20.

Ashton Khan drove confidently to the hoop to open the evening.

Dallin Bachynski showed similar spirit when leaving his defender sprawled on the floor following a ferocious dunk.

A pair of three-pointers apiece for Khan and Trayvon Palmer aided a 23-20 first-quarter edge.

Similar long-distance accuracy from Sharks forward Dirk Williams reversed the lead.

By midway through the second period Worcester trailed 41-30.

A quick seven points for George Beamon narrowed the deficit to 50-47 but veteran forward Mike Tuck was then allowed to rise highest from a thong of players to dull the revival as the first half closed.

Inside success for Bachynski and recent signing Robert Gilchrist chipped away at Sheffield’s lead.

Entering the final quarter the sides were tied at 75-75.

It was now Wolves’ turn to take charge.

A double of Beamon scores sat either side of more baskets for Gilchrist and Bachynski while Sharks were held scoreless for over three minutes.

After Williams’ impressive seventh triple of the evening the tie was once more in the balance as the game clock wound down.

Palmer was on the mark and also profited from a Beamon steal for a 98-92 lead with 30 seconds left.

Sheffield called a time-out to set up a final possession and limit the bleeding.

However, a double of turnovers instead widened the wound.

Khan gleefully took a lay-up with 21 seconds to go and was the man with his hand in the right place moments later.

A final Palmer shot went astray but Beamon leapt upwards to tip it back in at the hooter.

Head coach Paul James praised the determination of his team, saying: “We had an indifferent first half but got going after the break.

"We stressed all week that we wanted to build a decent lead but didn’t want to lose it by forcing plays.

“I’m really pleased with our efforts at the end to get those extra baskets and give us a good lead to take back to Sheffield.

"The guys just wanted it so badly.”

In another night of balanced Wolves scoring, Palmer and Beamon led the way with 24 and 20 points respectively.

Brandon Parrish tallied 16 points, closely followed by Khan on 15.

Bachynski notched 13.

Wolves will be back at the University of Worcester Arena on Friday (7.30pm) to greet Leeds Force.

Before that Wolves travel to Team Northumbria tomorrow (6.30pm) in the first round of the BBL Trophy.

Asked if he will now need to calm down his team for a match against a side playing in a lower division, James responded: “No. I want my players to be hungry.

"I want them to be feisty and I want them to fight like dogs. We want to go up to Northumbria and complete a perfect weekend.”