Adrien Sturt put in one of his best displays of the season to help guide Cheshire Phoenix to a gutsy 75-68 triumph over Sheffield Sharks in the last ever regular BBL season game at the Northgate Arena.
The Nix built on their stunning 101-78 success at newly-crowned league champions Newcastle Eagles on Friday night at a packed Sport Central with a hard-fought win over fellow play-off contenders Sheffield Sharks on Sunday night.
They had to do it short handed owing to club captain David Aliu, who hit 31 points in the win over Newcastle, being sidelined through illness and point guard Dustin Salisbery struggling with a minor injury, both unavailable, but their small roster battled manfully to ensure they ended the regular season on a high and in fine form leading up to their play-off double header with Glasgow Rocks this weekend.
Australian big man Sturt stepped in to the breach and put in an excellent display, pouring in 19 points and grabbing 15 rebounds. He hit a treble of three pointers in the first quarter alone as the Nix ended the first 10 minutes with a 22-8 advantage over their Yorkshire visitors, who used all 12 of their roster during the game.
The Nix commanded the early part of the second quarter but Sheffield battled back to within five points by the half-time break with the score 40-35 and a low scoring third quarter for the home side saw Atiba Lyon's side, who were led in scoring by 13 apiece from Mike Cook and Nick Lewis, draw level at 52-52 heading into the fourth.
The visitors briefly led by one but John Coffino's Cheshire side mustered the energy to stem a Sharks fight back and emerged deserved winners.
Demond Watt had a quieter game than usual but still came up with 14 points and eight boards while the mercurial Taylor King struggled offensively but still managed a double-double with 13 points and 14 rebounds and came up with clutch plays in the final quarter to ensure the Nix were home and dry in front of a big crowd at the Northgate.
Martyn Gayle, who was deployed in the point guard role in the absence of Salisbery, hit 10 points and posted five assists while Paul Sturgess also reached double figures as he also put down 10 points and grabbed seven boards.
Cheshire head coach Coffino said: "That was a gutsy performance from our seven guys. It was just incredible, incredible effort.
"We had some lapses and our guys were getting tired but so were they. We made the plays when we had to and Taylor did it. He didn't play well during the game and then he just turned it up.
"I'm so happy for Adrien (Sturt). I told him that David (Aliu) wasn't playing today and he was going to have to play the whole game and these guys when they get their minutes they do produce."
The Nix face Glasgow Rocks in the first round of the play-offs, visiting the Scottish side on Friday at the Emirates Arena before heading back to the Northgate on Sunday (5.30pm) for the second leg.