Sheffield Sharks 86, TCS Chester Jets 74: JETS' season fell at the final hurdle at Birmingham's NIA on Sunday as they were beaten by Sheffield Sharks, who clinched their first ever Championship crown.
The final was a repeat of the Wembley Arena decider two years ago in which Jets were victorious to complete a clean sweep of domestic honours.
But while first-year coach Paul Smith's class of 2004 had done well to get this far after finishing the regular season in fifth place, they ultimately came up just short against a quality Sharks outfit determined to add the missing piece to their own club's silverware collection for fellow rookie play-caller Peter Scantlebury.
Although Jets were beaten fairly and squarely on the day by the better team, many in the Chester camp were unhappy to hear regular Sharks home commentator Mike Shaft acting as master of ceremonies for the final.
While I have no doubts about Mr Shaft's integrity, the sheer fact that he works for the Sheffield club so often meant that his description of the game was distinctly over-familiar towards Sharks.
He referred to Sheffield's players by their first names and the most rudimentary plays were greeted with whooping and hollering - 'Amazing crossover from Nate (Reinking); Justin (Phoenix) to the hoop, wow'.
Yet when Jets' skipper John McCord dunked the ball in spectacular fashion, hardly a murmur, not even Shaft's favourite, now clichéd, catchphrase 'Oh, Baby!'
The complaints are not sour grapes, but at times you could have sworn you were at Ponds Forge.
Unlike the previous day's semi against Bears, Jets were lightning quick out of the blocks with Mike Nurse opening the scoring with a sweet three-pointer.
At the time, it seemed to be the perfect start for both the point guard and his team, but maybe it made Nurse over-confident with his outside shooting.
While he went on to hit four more efforts from downtown, often at crucial moments, a total of 37 shots for the evening from a court general is too many, especially when McCord had only 13.
Jets' other guard, Ryan Huntley, who had started from the bench and failed to score from open play the previous day, was also making a big contribution offensively early on, strongly driving to the hoop to bag six first-quarter points.
At the other end, Lynard Stewart was dominating proceedings under Jets' basket, netting consistently throughout the game and on his way to an eventual MVP award.
Calvin Davis, who had been a colossus against Bears, picked up where he had left off to close the opening quarter with a nice bucket after slick passing from McCord and Billy Singleton, to give Jets a slender 19-18 advantage.
While Jets matched their first-quarter scoring total in the second, it seemed to be getting increasingly difficult for them to find the hoop as they got bogged down in Sharks' slow-paced game.
Sheffield's pocket dynamo Robert Yanders was starting to take charge and Jets trailed 44-38 at the interval, taking too many jump shots rather than driving to the basket.
A 7-0 burst at the start of the third extended Sharks' lead to 13 points, but Jets fought back to shade the period thanks to a downtown treble from Nurse which got them to within three (56-53). But they were still 60-55 down into the final 10 minutes.
McCord grabbed the first score of the fourth quarter to bring Jets to within three points again, but that was as close as they got as Sharks gradually pulled away.
With 1:51 remaining, player-assistant coach James Hamilton fouled out for the second successive day, following an innocuous challenge on Yanders.
Championship talisman Singleton, who had upset the odds in previous years to clinch play-off glory with both Leicester Riders and Scottish Rocks, but had been used sparingly on this occasion as Smith attempted to play an up-tempo game, was recalled to the action.
Jets would only score once more as Sharks ended the match with another 7-0 tear to secure the big prize that had eluded them for so long.
Sharks' scorers: Lynard Stewart (25); Robert Yanders (19); Justin Phoenix & Nate Reinking (both 12); HL Coleman (10); Iain McKinney (6); Richard Windle (2).
Jets' scorers: Mike Nurse (21); John Mc-Cord (18); Calvin Davis (14); Ryan Huntley (13); James Hamilton (6); Billy Singleton (2).