Worcester Wolves’ winning streak extended to an outstanding dozen wins in a row after a gritty 94-90 victory over London Lions on Friday
It was a night of all-round successes with Paul James being presented with the British Basketball League’s Coach of the Month Award for March and forward Jermel Kennedy stepping forward to receive the Player’s Award for the same month.
Allied to that, both men were handed their awards in front of another bumper crowd at the University of Worcester Arena, the venue that was this week announced as the BBL’s best in a vote by basketball fans from across the UK.
It was Kennedy who set the scoreboard ticking, closely followed by ex-Worcester point guard Zaire Taylor, now setting up plays for London. A trio of three-pointers from his replacement, Marek Klassen, aided Wolves’ 25-19 first-quarter lead.
More former Worcester stalwarts, Alex Owumi and Kai Williams, were both on target from distance to close the advantage. When Williams was fouled in the act of sinking another triple he gladly slotted home the bonus free-throw for a rare four-point play and London’s first advantage at 31-30.
Trey Zeigler was introduced into the action and his double of confident drives to the hoop saw Worcester regain the lead, 46-39, by half-time.
By midway through the third period a double-digit advantage had been established at 59-46, forcing a Lions time out. From the restart, Williams’ hot hand was again on show as he floated home consecutive three-pointers.
Matters still looked comfortable entering the last quarter at 73-62. However, Zeigler was to be Wolves’ only scorer for the ensuing five minutes as London tightened their defences.
With three minutes remaining Williams had brought Lions to within a point at 85-84. After Lion’s next possession, Wolves found themselves trailing at 85-86 with James the person now calling for a break.
Missed shot attempts by Alex Navajas and Klassen had spectators holding their breath, but with their team mates eagerly grabbing offensive rebounds, Navajas was finally on the mark with a triple, allowing fans to exhale.
Baskets from Klassen and from Danny Huffor pushed out Worcester’s advantage to set the seal on a twelfth successive victory.
Klassen and Zeigler topped the scoring charts with 26 and 20 points, followed by Huffor on 18. Trevor Setty, Kennedy and Navajas rounded out Wolves’ scorers with eleven, ten and nine points respectively.
Williams notched 20 of London’s points, with Owumi and Taylor not far behind with 18 points apiece.
James was once more delighted with the win, saying: “That was our closest game for a few weeks. We lost a little bit of focus in the last quarter, but the players still found a way to grind out the win.
“I’m really pleased that despite a blip late on we were able to stay structured. We shared the ball well and when we have so many different players who can step up at different times we are hard to beat.”
Wolves close out the regular season next weekend by welcoming play-off rivals Sheffield Sharks to the University of Worcester Arena on Friday (7.30pm), followed by a trip to top-of-the-table Leicester Riders on Sunday.
Andrew Bachman, Ashton Khan and Maurice Walker were still missing from the action against London, but James is hopeful that they will be able to return to the court against Sheffield or Leicester, saying:
“Fingers crossed that all three will be fit and ready to play at some point next week. We’ve just had another great win in front of another great crowd. We want to keep the winning tradition going through next week and then straight into the playoffs. We’re all really looking forward to it.”
Photo Credit: RazorLight Imagery