Three ties of the third round of the Durham League Mens County Cup took place this week, all pitched first against second division.

Belmont Reds proved to be too strong for their guests from division two, Old Houghtonians, and the Durham side ran out as 77-40 winners.

Richard Huntley set the tone early for Belmont with two unchallenged, inside baskets. Rob Taylor and Anthony Burdis did reply for Houghtonians, but it was Belmont who led 17-10 when the first quarter finished. The rest of the first half belonged to Belmont and fast running, fast passing offence had stretched the lead to 35-19 by half-time. Six minutes of the second half was even as Taylor and Burdis stirred Houghtonians into life, but when Simon Whittaker and Philip Hoggarth hit shots late in the third quarter Belmont were away at 55-26 with ten minutes left to play. A 14-3 finish by Belmont merely added to the visitors woes.

Four players landed double figure scores for Belmont Reds; Andrew Knox (19), Huntley (18), Steven Graham (15) and Whittaker (12). Burdis and Taylor did all they could for Old Houghtonians with 14 and 13 each.

Middlesbrough College Academy A were pushed all the way by guests Specsavers Wear Valley Wolves before they secured their place in the quarter-finals with a 83-76 win.

Robert Shanks proved to be the Academy match-winner and he started as he meant to go on with nine points in a five minute, 14-6 start. Craig Dawson then hit back for Wolves to cut the gap to 16-15 after eight minutes, before Academy eased away again at 27-21. The second quarter was flat-out, top-notch basketball, as baskets from Pete Osei for Academy were cancelled out by scores from Ian Stringer, Sam Attah and Mark Robinson and when the interval whistle blew it was Wolves who had an unlikely 43-40 lead.

The second half was of the same breathtaking quality as the lead swapped hands throughout and with six minutes to go Wolves led 65-64. The next two minutes won Academy the game. Shanks started the run with four free shots and a basket and when Chris Bunten landed a three-point basket the Academy lead was suddenly a decisive and match-winning one of 73-65.

Shanks was at his best with 36 points for Middlesbrough College Academy as Osei and Bunten added 20 and 16. Attah, Stringer and Dawson collected 19, 14 and 13 for Specsavers Wear Valley Wolves.

Norton knew they would have a battle on their hands against the second division form side of the moment, Hartlepool Hawks ND, and so it proved as the division one outfit scraped home at 98-95.

Another 'cracking ' game really could have gone either way. The two teams traded baskets in a lightning fast opening quarter which finished at 27-25 to Norton as Mark Winter and Liam O'Donohue just gave them the edge. Anthony Robinson and Luke Thompson replied in kind in the next phase and Hawks led 53-51 at half-time. The first flutter in Hawks flight came in the third and decisive quarter as their foul count began to rise. As a result they had to ease off on defence and Norton, through Sam Butterworth and Paul Jenkins, were able to prise open a 74-68 advantage. The action continued unabated in the last quarter. Norton had the early edge to lead 82-71 after three minutes, but Hawks just kept coming and coming to cut the deficit to 96-93 as the last minute started. That was however to be as close as they got.

Four players shared most of the Norton points; Winter (27), Jenkins (23), O'Donohue (19) and Butterworth (14). Robinson hit his best score of the season with 29 points for Hartlepool Hawks ND as Leon and Luke Thompson grabbed 25 and 22.

Nissan Sunderland made the most of a generous 40 point, plus two points a point start to win their preliminary round Womens Handicap Cup tie with East Durham and Houghall Academy 92-90.

Sunderland did not score for eight of the ten minute first quarter, but Academy had scored only 16 points and when Sunderland finished the quarter with a flurry the mountain was still to be climbed at 52-16. The second quarter was almost a repeat of the first. Again eight minutes passed without Sunderland troubling the scorekeeper, but this time Gemma Lynch and Tamsin Vicary shared the honours as Academy collected 28 points to cut the gap to 52-44 just before the interval. All the Academy hard work paid off in the third quarter as Laura Calder and Anna Cass hit the points which tied the scores at 68-68 as the thirtieth minute finished. Academy then made the mistake of relaxing. Sunderland cashed in with 24 points, and had stretched their lead to 92-87 with two minutes left and try as they might Academy just could not get the one points they needed.

Beryl Davison and Adele Gair were the Nissan Sunderland match-winners with ten points each and in a great team effort by East Durham and Houghall Academy five players got double figures; Vicary (22), Calder (21), Joella Lynch (15), Gemma Lynch (14) and Ruth Cass (12).

In the womens division Tyneside secured two wins in two outings thanks to an aggregate 98 points from Zoe Vickers.

The first 56 of those points came as Tyneside beat Northumbria 93-63 at the start of the week and the other 42 were collected as they demolished Nissan Sunderland 86-21 at the end of the week.

Deidre Hayes started well for Tyneside in the fixture with Northumbria and the current champions were 21-8 up after just seven minutes. A 26-12 second quarter advanced the Tyneside lead to 54-27 and although Northumbria fared much better in the second half thanks to Jane Scott and Louise Stobbs, they were never in any sort of position to threaten the Tyneside dominance.

Nissan Sunderland had earlier in the week scraped home in the Handicap Cup, but with no start and Vickers in unstoppable form they could do nothing as a 28-0 opening ten minutes left them high and dry and eventually beaten 86-21 by their hosts. Deidre Hayes got 27 in the Tyneside win over Northumbria and Sarah Thomson hit 24 against Nissan Sunderland, but they were merely bit part players in the Zoe Vickers master-class. Jane Scott scored 20 of the Northumbria points as Janice Brewis and Louise Stobbs collected 11 each whilst Julie Dyos hit 12 of the 21 which Nissan Sunderland finished with in the second game.

Third division teams played the sixth round of pool games in their cup competition. Best of those games, between champions elect Belmont, and Specsavers Wear Valley Warriors at Willington, gave unbeaten Belmont a 56-52 victory.

The contest was a proverbial game of two halves as baskets from David Waldock, Mark Elderkin, Craig McManus and Liam Haggerty helped give Belmont much the better of the opening 20 minutes and a 30-19 advantage as it finished. The second half was almost a total reverse as a pair of three-point baskets from Philip Holliday started a Warriors fight-back which finished with another two three-pointers from Alan Scott and during which the deficit had been cut to just 54-52 mid-way through the final 60 seconds. With time running out two points from the line from Craig Stamp made the game safe for Belmont.

Elderkin, Haggerty and McManus all got double figures for Belmont as the 52 points which Warriors scored were shared between eight players.

Twenty points from Reno Raftopolous proved to the difference between the sides as Teesside Huskies scored a 73-55 win away to Hartlepool CJ Hydraulics B.

Huskies set up their win with a 12-2 run in the middle of the second quarter, although Hydraulics did cut the gap to just 41-40 early in the second half and only a strong finish with Raftopolous dictating terms swung the game Huskies way.

Michael Wassell and Liam Shepherd added 14 and 11 points to the 20 scored by Raftopolous for Teesside Huskies as Jonathan Osborne, Bo Wakelam and Sean McKenzie hit 13,12 and 11 respectively for Hartlepool CJ Hydraulics B.

Young Houghtonians notched a second win in a row with a 58-56 success at home to Specsavers Wear Valley Wizards thanks mainly to 26 points from Colin Robinson

Houghtonians had the better of an even first half which closed at 25-18 to them. Colin Lees and Ian Hirst then combined to bring Wizards back to just 56-55 down with lest than thirty seconds left on the clock. That was enough time though for the two fouls and two free-shots which gave Houghtonians the prize.

Ron Anderson added ten points to the 26 scored by Robinson for Young Houghtonians. Hirst and Lees collected 16 each for Specsavers Wear Valley Wizards.

Mens County Cup: Belmont Reds 77 Old Houghtonians 40; Middlesbrough College Academy A 83 Specsavers Wear Valley Wolves 76; Norton 98 Hartlepool Hawks ND 95.

Womens Handicap Cup: East Durham and Houghall Academy 90 Nissan Sunderland 92.

Division Three Cup: Specsavers Wear Valley Warriors 52 Belmont 56; Young Houghtonians 58 Specsavers Wear Valley Wizards 56; Hartlepool CJ Hydraulics B 55 Teesside Huskies 73.

Womens Division: Tyneside 93 Northumbria 63; Tyne and Wear Juniors 52 Durham Knights 76; Nissan Sunderland 21 Tyneside 86.