Durham League

With the Durham University term about to finish, the Division Two Cup final was brought forward. Durham Knights defeated Consett Steelers 77-60 in their semi and what a cracker the final turned out to be as Andrew Knox hit a three-point basket on the buzzer to give Belmont Reds an amazing 72-70 victory over Durham Knights.

A close game looked unlikely when the University students froze at the start. They hit the first basket but Reds then collected 17 points without reply to take what seemed a match-winning lead. Knights rallied with 13 unanswered points early in the second quarter and by the interval the see-saw final was even at 34-34.

The second-half was basketball at its best. Knights then looked set for a win when they took a 66-58 lead with a 10-0 spell from the second to fourth minutes of the last quarter. Dave Storey and Geoff Pollard thought different and brought Reds back to 70-69 with just seconds left to set up the dramatic finish.

Storey top scored for Belmont with 21 points, Knox hit 17 in winning the game's most valuable player award; Pollard and Gary Simpson added 14 and 10. Gavin Hope and Stratis Comatsos did best for Knights with 22 points apiece, Ben Ganeshwaran and Mat Webb hit 14 and 10.

With the rest of the cup competitions looming, Teesside Huskies A seem to have discovered their form just at the right time. They had a 77-73 success against neighbours University of Teesside in their derby at Billingham. In the end, Huskies experience gave them the spoils. Tony Hanson, Mowhawks coach, may not be gracing the National League court anymore, but his domination of the boards at both ends meant Huskies always had the edge. The Billingham side took control from the off to lead 23-13 by the end of the first quarter. University were resigned to playing catch-up basketball and although Matt Ellis and Nikos Mandalis worked hard throughout they could never get back on terms. Huskies led 41-27 at half-time and although the students reduced the gap to 54-47 with ten minutes left, Hanson always got enough from the players around him to guarantee success.

James Thompson and Tom Applegarth were the two main recipients of Hanson's skills for Teesside Huskies A and they finished with 32 and 21 points apiece. Mandalis and Ellis were excellent for University with 27 and 22 points apiece, Sam Rowly chipped in with 10.

Norton warmed up for the Division One Cup semi-final against Nissan by beating them 87-82 in a league fixture at Stockton. Norton had the better of the first 20 minutes but when Nissan finished the half with a 12-0 run it was all-square at 41-41 by the interval. Having recovered, Nissan took control at 75-66 with seven minutes left. Disaster then hit Nissan when leading scorer Arran Hope fouled out. Norton cashed in with 15 unanswered points to lead 81-75 with three minutes to play. Nissan cut the gap to one basket before Steve Butler netted six points in a row to give Norton the prize.

Butler was the pick for Norton with 33 points, Nicholson netted 13, whilst Mark Winter and Tony Smelt added 11 points apiece. Hope and Lee Davie did best for Nissan with 29 and 22 points each whist Steve Dixon and Chris Maddison hit 13 and 12. Middlesbrough Mavericks gave the students of East Durham and Houghall Community College A a caning in their 78-46 Division One triumph at Middlesbrough College.

Wayne Bailey and Marek Pawlak shared the points which set the tone as the first quarter scored 18-9 to Mavericks. Ten points without reply just before the interval stretched the local lead to 35-21 and when Ade Onaguruwa and Richard Rowden added their ammunition in the third quarter College were as good as beaten when it closed at 55-34.

Pawlak was the pick with 23 points for Mavericks, Bailey and Onaguruwa hit 14 and 10.

Second-placed Hartlepool Hornets A hosted leaders Consett Steelers in a fixture which was the Division Two title decider. The contest was superb entertainment from pulsating start to nail-biting finish.

Dan Bailey opened on fire with seven points in an 11-3 first five minutes, but it was Steelers who finished the quarter better as a quartet of three-point baskets from Garry Gowans helped edge them in front at 19-18. A switch to man defence plus a Bruce Marshall three-pointer and baskets from John McBean gave Hornets a good second quarter and it was they who took the break 31-28 up. The third quarter was excellent. Hornets enjoyed a good start and finish whilst Steelers dominated the middle and with ten minutes to play the match was all-square at 47-47. Steelers made the break early in the final quarter as more Gowans three-point baskets opened up a 56-51 gap. Try as they might Hornets could never get back on terms and with two minutes left the lead had stretched to 64-58.

Three players did most to win the game for Steelers, Gowans and Brendan McNeaney hit 22 each, while Matthew Patterson collected 19. Bailey and McBean led the way for Hornets with 15 points apiece, Marshall added 10.

Results Division Two Cup Final: Belmont Reds 72, Durham Knights 70.

Division One: Norton 87, Nissan 82; Teesside Huskies A 77, University of Teesside 73; Middlesbrough Mavericks 78, East Durham and Houghall Community College A 46.

Division Two: Belmont Reds 79, Hartlepool CJ Hydraulics A 70; Peterlee Video 72, Willington Parkside 84; Hartlepool Hornets A 62, Consett Steelers 64; Durham Knights 79, Belmont Reds 70.

Division Three: East Durham and Houghall Community College B 81, Hartlepool CJ Hydraulics B 52; Durham Saints 73, Hartlepool Hornets B 71; Hartlepool CJ Hydraulics B 54, Young Houghtonians 70.

Women's Division: South Tyneside 66, University of Teesside 45; Durham Knights 37, Nunthorpe Boro Bruins 59.