TCS Chester Jets 99 Birmingham Bullets 90: JETS eventually saw off a physical Bullets side at the Northgate Arena on Sunday, but they only started to take control in the latter stages of the game after the visitors had four of their players fouled out, writes Christopher Beesley.
Despite going into the game with 10 losses from as many outings, the visitors displayed a determined probably over-zealous attitude throughout, picking up 35 fouls, but their tactics almost paid off as they kept in touch for most of the match.
Jets coach Paul Smith said: 'It wasn't a great game or a great performance from ourselves, but sometimes you have to grind a win out. That's Birmingham's style, they try and make a dogfight of it and they hustle you like mad. Their coach is very experienced and he leads them really well, so it's tough for a rookie like myself to match up against him.
'We've got to realise that Jets are not a little team anymore and teams are preparing to do things, especially when they play us. Trey Moore had the game of his life tonight and other players are hitting better-than-usual numbers when they come up against us because they raise their game, but we've got the type of players who should be able to combat that.'
Although Jets started strongly, going ahead 11-4 early on, and with Ryan Huntley bagging a hat-trick from downtown, Bullets remained in touch and the two sides were level at 29-29 at the end of the first quarter.
The hosts seemed to have taken control by half-time, leading 54-44 as Huntley ran the show with an all-action performance, displaying top-class rebounding, stealing and shooting skills while Calvin Davis caused a stir with a one-handed tomahawk dunk.
The second period ended badly for Bullets with point guard Rob Pater-nostro picking up a technical foul. And he was given his marching orders early in the third as a second technical saw him fouled out.
When Huntley intercepted a Bullets pass, the frustration of visiting coach Steve Tucker reached boiling point and the animated play-caller received a technical himself for punching over an advertising hoarding.
Persistent fouling by the away side only led to more dismissals and DeRon Rutledge was the next to go before the close of the third quarter as Jets led 77-70.
Amazingly, Birmingham's rough-house tactics seemed to be working as Jets failed to capitalise from the free-throw line. And they even fell behind to their depleted opponents shortly after Herb Baker was fouled out with just over five minutes remaining.
Former Harlem Globetrotter Trey Moore, leading all scorers with 31, remained the dominant force in the visitors' line-up, but an inspirational play from player-assistant coach James Hamilton broke Bullets' resolve late on.
Despite appearing to be in great pain with a knee problem, Hamilton leapt majestically to make a steal before running almost the entire length of the court to score.
With Antony Haase also exiting early, Bullets' chances finally faded despite Jets' Calvin Davis also having to sit out the final three minutes after hitting foul trouble.
Jets' scorers: Huntley and McCord (19), Hamilton (18), Davis (17), Nurse (14), Singleton (12).
For the second match in a row, Jets were beaten by a point when they were edged out 103-102 at Scottish Rocks last Friday. Calvin Davis top-scored with 27.