LIONS were defeated by a single point on two occasions in another disappointing weekend, to stretch their winless run out to six British Basketball League games.
A week after losing to Worcester Wolves, Lions were again beaten in the midlands on Friday night - this time 90-89 - before Sheffield Sharks claimed a 91-92 victory at the Lions Arena.
The fact that Sunday’s defeat to Sharks was a thrilling match will be little consolation to coach Mike New who has now seen his side go down 12 times in their 20 games as they sit four wins and eight points off the Championship play-offs.
A 10-3 run, including seven from Marcus Stout, helped Sharks take the lead at 83-87 in a frantic end to the game, which exploded into life in the final two minutes.
Two free-throws from Stefan Gill helped Lions close the gap slightly, but a Ryan Patton three extended the visitors’ lead to five points at 85-90 with a minute to play.
Lions were not to be beaten that easily though and a three-pointer from Demarius Bolds followed by another score from the same man saw Lions edge in front by a point at 91-90 with 13 seconds left on the Winterhill clock.
But Gill fouled Stout with four seconds left to send the Sheffield man to the line - and he made no mistake to sink both free-throws and give Sharks the lead at 91-92.
Lions returned from a time-out looking to pinch the victory with the final shot of the game - Shawn Myers was the man to take it, but the ball rimmed out and time was up for New’s men.
Earlier in the game Sharks leapt out to a 19-27 lead off the back of a 19-6 run towards the end of the first quarter, but Lions sunk seven of the final eight to trail by two at 26-28 at the end of the first period.
The second saw both sides trade baskets before Myers and Patton traded three-pointers, with Myers bagging the final one of the period to give the hosts a 51-48 lead at the mid-way point.
Sharks started strongly after the break and an 11-5 run helped them into a 56-61 lead, but Lions fought back immediately with a 12-2 burst to lead 68-63.
Lions tried valiantly to increase their lead, but Sharks remained in touch as they netted 10 of the last 15 points of the third period to tie the game at 73-73 heading into the final stanza.
In the final session both teams traded baskets until the fireworks of the closing stages. Stout led all scorers with 29 points for Sharks, while Bolds led the way for Lions with 25 points personal.
Forty-eight-hours earlier Lions suffered another big blow in losing out to play-off rivals Wolves after trailing by three points in two of the first three periods. Although it was again late drama that saw the city side beaten as Justin Dobbins sank a couple of three-throws with seconds remaining.
Lions held the upper hand in the opening exchanges as they built up a quick-fire eight point advantage at 13-5 inside the first five minutes, Bolds and Gill leading the way.
Wolves found themselves down by double digits, but they hit back with a 12-5 burst to make the score 22-19. Their hard work seemed to have unravelled for the home side as Lions began the second quarter strongly and opened up a 10-point through seven unanswered points - a Gill triple making it 29-19.
However, Wolves then exploded into life, posting a devastating 22-4 run in an incredible and crazy four minutes to put themselves 41-33 in front, before Lions re-gained their composure to get back to 48-45.
The two teams could only trade baskets during the third and that set the final period up for another nail-biting conclusion.
But again Lions lost out - Travis Nelson’s block on Dobbins handed him the chance to win the game as the clock showed just two seconds to play.
Lions are in desperate need of a win and go in search of that away at Worthing Thunder on Sunday before Leicester Riders come to town on Tuesday.