TCS Chester Jets 109, Birmingham Bullets 96 Basketball: JETS completed the regular season at the Northgate Arena on Sunday with a third successive victory, overcoming a spirited Bullets side in an entertaining contest, writes Christopher Beesley.
The win followed away successes in Leicester and London on Wednesday and Saturday night respectively, but was not enough to clinch Jets a home Play-Off berth. Instead they will go to Scottish Rocks on Sunday for their quarter-final match.
Coach Paul Smith said: 'Since Brighton thumped us, we've played some of our best basketball of the season with an emphasis on teamwork and good passing.
'There's still plenty of room for improvement, we performed for about 20 minutes tonight but need to do it for 40 minutes if we're going to be successful.
'Our players are getting back into shape and their injuries are just niggles now. We scored over 100 points because we pushed and if you can cover the ground between the two foul areas faster than the opposition then you've got a chance. Now I'm looking forward to a week of full training and will be getting the Rocks tapes out.'
The league table doesn't lie and with 32 defeats from 34 outings, Bullets have certainly been the BBL's whipping boys this season.
But with their entire squad knowing they were playing for their respective futures before this unsuccessful side is dismantled, they battled gamely, making Jets work hard for their victory.
The visitors led for the first four-and-a-half minutes with the sharp-shooting DeRon Rutledge, who topped all scorers with 32, spearheading their charge.
However, once a Mike Nurse effort from downtown roused the home supporters, putting Jets in front for the first time, they never looked back.
The guard then fed Calvin Davis with the first of two alley-oops in the quarter as the Texan centre obliged with a crashing one-handed dunk and Jets went on to lead 30-23 at the end of the first quarter.
Jets extended their advantage in the second and went into the interval 59-46 up with player-assistant coach James Hamilton rolling back the years with some nice buckets.
Trailing 83-72 going into the final period, Bullets briefly threatened a comeback early in the fourth as they got to within six (83-77), but a nifty Billy Singleton hook shot soon pegged them back as Jets cantered home, introducing their bench players in the final minute.
Jets' scorers: McCord (27), Davis (24), Hamilton (22), Huntley (12), Singleton (11), Nurse (9), Murphy (3), Janvier (1).