TCS Chester Jets 68, Brighton Bears 66: JETS made history at Sheffield Arena on Saturday by becoming the first club to win the BBL Trophy for four consecutive seasons with a dramatic victory over Brighton Bears.
Of all Jets' Trophy triumphs, this success is arguably the greatest considering the quality of the opposition and their own injury problems.
Bears, who look likely to wrap up this year's league title, boast a nine-man deep rotation that was expected to hurt Jets' walking wounded.
Because of this, the holders for once went into the final as underdogs and the omens did not look good as Jets took to the court with the dominant Calvin Davis limping with his injured right leg heavily strapped.
But there was nothing to choose between the teams for most of the match and Davis started brightly, sinking his first shot and lasting more than five minutes before having to take his first breather as Billy Singleton, who again produced a big-game performance, entered the fray.
The first quarter ended level at 21-21 and with defences on top, over two minutes of scoreless play elapsed early in the second quarter after Mike Brown's three-pointer edged Bears ahead.
With baskets at a premium, Jets must have been glad that captain John McCord then embarked on a purple patch, netting 12 of his 19 points for the evening in the second quarter.
McCord was leading his Bears markers a merry dance as he slipped through their rearguard to score from a series of improbable angles, and it was a performance that would ultimately end in an MVP award for the skipper.
As half-time came, the scores were still deadlocked at 38-38 but Jets' hopes seemed to suffer a major setback early in the quarter as McCord was 'taken out' of the action for a spell.
An unsavoury American Football-style challenge from Bears' hatchet man Rico Alderson, which somehow went unpunished by the officials, forced McCord to the sidelines for treatment and, in his absence, Brighton built-up a seven-point advantage, the biggest lead of the game.
Mike Nurse kept Jets in touch (53-55) with a massive buzzer-beating three-pointer at the close of the third, which would mean as much physiologically to Jets' play-ers as it did to the scoreline.
Neither side could maintain the upper hand in the final period as the lead changed hands five times, but among the frenetic play, Jets' player-assistant coach James Hamilton still found time to jig as he netted from downtown, which was seen as a reference to the Bears players dancing when they defeated Jets in the league last month.
With 1:43 remaining on the clock, Jets' surge to victory began with Bears' Andrew Alleyne fouling out and McCord hitting one from two from the free-throw line to bring them within a point of Brighton (65-66).
Over a minute of scoreless play followed but, crucially, the pendulum swung as the ever-alert Ryan Huntley intercepted a wayward pass, feeding Davis to put Jets 67-66 ahead with just 31.9 seconds to go.
It was apt that Davis should prove the match-winner in the circumstances as it was his bravery to play, despite being barely mobile, that typified Jets' dogged fighting spirit and stedfast stubbornness to relinquish a trophy they now regards as a personal possession.
With 5.6 seconds left to play, a shot from Bears' top-scorer Kendrick Warren rimmed out and Davis snatched the defensive board, drawing the foul from a desperate Alderson. But the drama was far from over as the Texan centre made his first shot from the line but missed his second, allowing Bears one final opportunity to snatch the verdict or force over-time. A surge towards Jets' hoop resulted in a Mike Brown effort slipping out and Alder-son slotting in the rebound, seemingly after the final buzzer had sounded.
With Bears' players and coaching staff haranguing him to give the equalising score, referee Roger Harrison leapt over the advertising boards to consult with the table officials.
He then strutted back to the centre of court with all the drama of a Roman Emperor giving the thumbs up or down before making the 'no basket' sign to declare Jets victors.
Jets' scorers: John McCord (19); Mike Nurse (13); Billy Singleton (11); Calvin Davis (9); Ryan Huntley & James Hamilton (both 8).
Bears' scorers: Kendrick Warren (17); Mike Brown (14); Rico Alderson (12); Andrew Alleyne (9); Yorick Williams (8); Sullivan Phillips (4); Jason Siemon (2).