DURHAM Wildcats grabbed their fifth BBL win of the season to earn some reward for two good performances at the weekend.
In a thrilling finish against Cheshire Phoenix at the Newton Aycliffe Leisure Centre they hung on to win 101-96.
Dave Elderkin stated after the disappointing defeat to the Newcastle Eagles in the BBL Trophy that his side learned valuable lessons.
First they travelled to highflyers Surrey Heat and lost by eight points in one of their best performances of the season.
The game was a tight scoring contest throughout with both sides trading baskets with ease before the hosts managed to secure the 84-76 win.
Surrey star Albert Margai sank a three-pointer in the final two minutes to widen the gap as the hosts kept their nerve.
Wildcat rookie Andrew Kiester continued his good form to lead the scoring with a double-double of 17 points and 11 rebounds.
Durham seemed to take their momentum into yesterday’s game at home to Cheshire Phoenix.
The hosts got off to a highscoring start with Brad Guinane and the BBL’s player of the month Ralph Bucci sinking early baskets.
Chez Marks hit back for Cheshire but Durham began to establish an early lead, winning the high scoring first quarter 31-25.
They came out in the second quarter with the same intention to attack, and Guinane continued his good scoring form to keep the Wildcats in front.
Elderkin’s side began to restrict the visitors’ scoring options and, with a much-improved shot conversion percentage, the Wildcats went in with a commanding lead of 12 at the halfway stage.
The third quarter was much the same with both sides looking to put points on the board, Durham entertaining the Newton Aycliffe faithful with the high-class basketball.
Marks broke the 20-point barrier shortly after the restart but Cheshire couldn’t compete with the Wildcats front row.
Four players for the hosts were now in double figures, with Keith Page and Bucci leading from the front.
The hosts led by nine points going into the final quarter.
But Cheshire were determined not give up and reduced the deficit to five with six minutes to play.
The game was in the balance right to the end, with Durham leading by three points with 23 seconds to go, but they managed to hang on for a much-needed win.