A RARE midweek trip ended in defeat for the Jets, but it also illustrated how far they have come.
Victory would have given them a cushion in the BBL Championship play-off places but they were facing Rob Paternostro’s Leicester Riders, the team who had already beaten them twice by 20-point margins at the Northgate Arena this season.
However it was the Jets, buoyant after a good weekend, who took the initiative, building an early 13-7 before ending the first quarter ahead of their hosts 24-22.
The Riders unsurprisingly hit back to stretch out a five-point lead before the Jets seemingly found themselves in the zone, sinking points at will as they exploded with a 17-2 run which included a three-pointer from guard Keith Page.
By half time the Riders had clawed it back to a two-point game but they were reeling as the Jets took the fight to them.
When the teams returned to the floor for the third quarter, the exchange of streaky runs continued as Kai Williams went to the charity stripe to give the Jets a 49-43 lead, only for the Riders to go on a 9-2 bust with a Barry Lamble basket putting them in front by a point.
Enter the Jets again as they regained the momentum to lead 62-54 and despite Great Britain captain Drew Sullivan inspiring another big Riders run Colin O’Reilly hit a late basket to give the Jets the lead for the third quarter in a row.
The fourth was an all or nothing period for the home side as they had not ended a single period with the lead but a 14-2 start to the final quarter broke the game and the Jets had nothing left to give after a gargantuan effort.
Sullivan finished with a double-double of 20 points and 10 rebounds and BBL Player of the Month for March, Ayron Hardy had 10 points and 11 assists.
For the Jets centre Matt Schneck completed a double-double of 10 points and 13 rebounds before fouling out while Bill Cole just missed out on his double-double by a single rebound.