LIONS’ season will end on Saturday after two shocking weekend defeats ended their hopes of reaching the British Basketball League play-offs.
The city side slumped 78-95 at home to nearest rivals Cheshire Jets on Friday night which all but ended their hopes of a top eight place, and any remaining chance they did have was put to bed on Sunday afternoon when they crashed 94-86 at Mersey Tigers, leaving them second from bottom of the Championship table.
Only Durham Wildcats – who they visit on the final day of the season – are sparing Lions’ blushes at the foot of the table after a season that at one point promised so much has slipped away into utter disappointment.
Defeat in Liverpool was the final nail in the coffin for Mike New’s men. Indeed, the head coach’s position will now be called into question with the team now consigned to a 10th place finish.
An even first quarter at Mersey saw the two teams tied at 10 apiece, before the visiting Lions established Daniel Northern under the basket as he dominated the action. Adrien Sturt and Demarius Bolds chipped in as Lions led 27-30 at the end of the first.
Never able to shake the Tigers off, Lions kept their noses in front. Nuno Pedroso hit a pair of free throws then Cameron Bernard dunked twice and tipped in filling in for the foul ridden Sturt. Then Northern, on his way to 18 first half points, put his side up 48-53 at the half.
Tigers were playing catch-up ahead of the interval but turned around the five-point first half deficit with a much improved second half display as they emerged from the locker rooms with a 10-0 run.
Bolds halted the slump but Lions tired and Tigers got ahead at the end of the third to lead 72-67. Bolds tied things up with five straight points, and so it continued as each side took the lead. Despite a combined 50 points from Northern and Bolds, Lions lost their way in the closing stages and weren’t helped by Pedroso and Robert Youngblood fouling out.
The home side won 94-86, but will also miss out on a play-off place after Cheshire Jets built on their win over Lions on Friday night by seeing off Glasgow Rocks on Sunday.
Lions have only pride to play for on Wednesday night when they welcome Plymouth Raiders to town for the second time two weeks, before travelling north to face Durham on Saturday for their last game of the season.
Raiders won 100-93 at Winterhill in early April and have been largely blamed for starting Lions’ second half of the season slump after beating them in the BBL Trophy semi final. Defeat on Sunday was Lions’ 13th in their last 14 outings.