National League Basketball in association with TADEA; Sustainable Energy Solutions & Heaven Scent; Yankee Candles Middlesbrough
On Sunday Liverpool were the next test with Lions aiming to earn the double over the Merseysider's. Middlesbrough would start well with Wright converting two free throws after being fouled in the low post. Wells then produced a big 3-pointer to signal the home teams intentions. The game though suddenly twisted as a sublime solo from Chris Helsby hit an incredible 19pts in the first quarter, including four 3-pointers. At the mid point the injury crisis would deepen for Middlesbrough as Wells hit a 3-pointer and then landed awkwardly. James Thomson, with his own long term serious knee injury replaced Wells and inspired a good come back from 7pts down including a nice jump shot in the final minute. This was followed by an ‘And 1’ play by Ryon Dixon and a buzzer beating lay up from John Ford to come within 1pt, 24-25 at the end of the first period.
Well aware of the perimeter threat of Liverpool, Lions focussed their defence on this which allowed veteran Paul O’Brien to force his way inside the key for four points in the first minute. With Helsby now contained another old hand dealt some sever blows as Malcolm Jones hot two 3-pointers to extend their lead to 11pts in the fourth minute. Ryon Dixon, another player playing through injury responded with a big 3 but this only seemed to anger the visitors who produced the biggest lead of the game via Niall Mullan at 14pts. A time out was quickly called by Coach Thomson who demanded more of his players with emphasis on Wright inside and Ford on the break. The result was superb as Wright produced an ‘And 1’ play to add to the 6pts from Wells and 5pts from Ford to produce a 14-2 run and enter the interval just 2pts.
The third quarter was another closely contested period as Helsby sneaked in with another two 3-pointers while Mullan worked well in the key to add 8pts. Lady luck would provide a helping hand in the third minute as DaWaun Wells was fouled on a 3-point attempt. The American would go to the line for 2 of 3 attempts. Dixon and wells added a ‘3’ apiece in the sixth minute to reduce the lead to 4pts, 60-64 but Liverpool would hold on to this margin as both teams traded baskets. In the final play of the period Rob Wright would produce an incredible leap to block the shot of Mullan which gave cheer to the crowd and home bench.
With the game close at 70-74 heading into the final quarter, TADEA Lions would have to take the lead, which they had not done since the second minute of the first quarter. Defence would have to improve in addition to their free flowing offence. Both Thomson's; James and Ben were pulling the strings well for Middlesbrough and collecting the assists in the process (7 & 6 respectively). Ben adding four in the third period.
In the fifth minute the highlight of the game saw a great pass from James Thomson to the cutting Wells who then leapt to slam home with an acrobatic dunk.
Aside of one free throw from Thomson, Wright Ford and American star Wells would combine to produce 23pts to the visitors 12. 17 year old John Ford was more than an inspiration as he drove to the basket with grace, time and time again for 10pts in this quarter alone to lead the Lions to a 8pt victory and three wins in three games.
The weekend saw good displays from many Lions, including Rob Wright and top scoring DaWaun Wells. A special mention must be made for the heroic battle Wells made to play on despite hurting his ankle early on. Wells finished with 29pts & 7 rebounds. The injured duo of James Thomson and Ryon Dixon excelled against Liverpool with Dixon adding 12pts and Thomson collecting an impressive 7 assists, 6 rebounds and 2 blocks.
The MVP though was John Ford, who actually earned the accolade on Friday also and just missed out against Newcastle to Wells. Ford hit 33, 25 & 27 in each respective game and was a pleasure to watch.
TADEA Lions now face a tough game against the aggressive Wirral Hornets this Sunday at Eston Sports Academy. The game tips off at 4pm and the club are seeking a large crowd to cheer on the brave Lions. The team hope to have Wells and Robinson back for this encounter.