TCS Chester Jets got the defence of their BBL Trophy crown off to the perfect start last Friday by inflicting the first defeat of the season on Sheffield Sharks, winning the North Two group game 93-86.
Head coach Paul Smith was elated: 'The first quarter was the best we have played for a long time,' he said. 'I think the big difference was our approach to defence led by McCord and Hamilton. Everyone talked to each other and looked after each other.'
The game opened with a Ryan Huntley three, but Sharks hit back with two baskets. What followed was 10 minutes of intense end-to-end play of a very high calibre. Jets ended the quarter 32-19 in front.
It was a team performance of the highest class - steals, blocks, slick passing, good shot selection and intense defence.
Sharks missed all their three-point attempts in this quarter, which was a measure of the pressure they were put under by the Jets defence.
The second quarter saw superb basketball again from both sides. Sharks began to get back into the game with Nate Reinking beginning to make an impression. Their three-point shooting improved with four in the quarter (two from Yanders and one apiece for Reinking and McKinnie).
Despite this, Jets managed to stretch their lead to 16 points before a Sharks time-out was followed by more good shooting by Reinking to reduce the deficit to 10. The half ended with Jets leading 59-49.
Sharks gradually reduced the deficit in the third quarter. John McCord was injured midway through but remained on court with reduced mobility.
Sharks levelled at 66-66 and were playing well. And this was probably the key moment of the game as Jets hit back to end the third quarter 77-70.
In the final quarter, Reinking scored another neat basket to open the scoring for Sharks. Another Reinking basket then got them within four points at 85-81, but Nurse restored Jets' lead and with two minutes left, Yanders was fouled out.
Still Sharks wouldn't let go and another two Reinking baskets reduced the Jets lead to just three points at 88-86, but Jets finished strongly to seal victory.
Nurse was Jets' top scorer with 27 points with McCord on 21 and Calvin Davis 20.