CHESHIRE Jets look ever more likely to break into the top four in the BBL Championship and secure a first leg home advantage in the post-season playoffs after defeating Leicester Riders for the second time in a week on Saturday.
Colin O’Reilly led the charge as the Jets were without inspirational skipper James Hamilton and the wily Chez Marks.
Irish international O’Reilly racked up a game-high 28 points as the Jets claimed a 91-82 victory over the Riders, almost identical to the scoreline the previous Sunday when the sides met.
O’Reilly was supported by Paul Peterson with 14 points and Stephen Gayle, whose hot and cold season warmed up with a 19-point haul.
The victory moves Jets within two points of Leicester and the club also now has the head-to-head advantage on the East Midlands club – and two games in hand.
Riders led 25-17 at the end of the first quarter courtesy of an 11-0 run at the end of the quarter, sharpshooter Bradd Wierzbicki contributed 10 points.
Quarters two and three totally belonged to the Jets however side as they clamped down on defence at the Northgate Arena.
Limiting the Riders to just 11 second period points the Jets were able to reach the interval with a 46-36 lead.
The third quarter was much the same as Jets stretched their advantage out to 63-49 heading into the final stanza.
O’Reilly was excellent with nine of his team’s 17 points in the period.
Cheshire’s lead peaked at 75-53 but hampered by using a six-man rotation due to injury and then having Calvin Davis foul out the Jets were forced into running down the shot clock to burn time.
Slowly but surely Riders cut the gap to 81-74 but by earning and making their free-throws, the Jets kept their rivals at bay.
Ellesmere Port college basketball star Johannah Leedham and sister Jennifer were heartbroken after Franklin Pierce Ravens lost the NCAA Division Two playoff semi-final against Fort Lewis Skyhawks in St Joseph’s, Missouri.
Former Ellesmere Port Catholic High School pupil Johannah, 22, has established herself in the States as the best female college player in the country while sister Jennifer, 24, is now assistant coach of the New Hampshire-based Ravens, a team she used to captain.
Despite the heartache of their 79-64 defeat, Johannah was named 2010 State Farm/WBCA Division Two National Player of the Year, the second time she has won that award since moving to America to study at Franklin Pierce College.