AFTER five consecutive British Basketball League defeats, MK Lions rediscovered their winning touch to beat Worcester Wolves in a Lions Arena classic on Sunday afternoon.
Veteran Shawn Myers rolled back the years for the hosts with 17 points and 16 rebounds - and there were plenty of other positives for coach Mike New as Lions won 87-85.
Recent recruit Demarius Bolds top scored with 20 points, Stefan Gill weighed in with 17 points, and Kris Clark claimed a critical six steals which proved a pivotal factor in a tight game.
The win was a crucial one for Lions and an under pressure New who had seen his side go down to a fifth defeat in as many games just 48 hours earlier when BBL Champions Newcastle Eagles left 100-91 winners.
It was Gill who produced a game winning steal inside the final minute against Wolves as he grabbed the ball and dished it up for Clark to make the lay-up as Lions sealed a morale-boosting victory - their second from five fixtures at their new Winterhill home.
The hosts had forced the pace early on as Gill opened the scoring, after Bolds opened his account and Gill nailed a three pointer. Wolves were struggling with the speed and incisiveness of Lions, and it was left to big man Justin Dobbins to keep the visitors in contention.
Travis Nelson quickly joined in for Lions as a hard dunk opened his account on his way to nine first quarter points, and Clark ended the period with an spectacular lay-up as the home side led 29-24.
The second quarter saw the entrance of Yorick Williams, and he exploded into life with eight points, including two deep three pointers. Wolves suddenly looked rocky as the lead had extended to 12, but as Lions got trigger happy from behind the arc, Dobbins and Rod Middleton brought their side back into it as they reduced the deficit to 49-47 at half time.
The third session started where the second had left off as Wolves accelerated in front, and with Nelson picking up fouls it was left to Myers to step into the forefront. Having only contributed a point in the first half he quickly found 10 in the third to keep Lions in it, grabbing rebound after rebound. But despite his efforts Wolves held a five point lead at the end of the third at 66-71.
In the fourth the home side dug deep and their defence was tenacious. Slowly they put a stranglehold on Wolves’ scorers, while new man Michael Creppy keep the visitors going.
However, the suffocating pressure quickly saw Wolves crack and Lions take control. Myers carried on rebounding at the offensive end and Bolds drove hard as the clock ticked to just 40 seconds left and Lions down by just three.
Another defensive stop allowed Gill free to hit a game tieing three pointer that raised the roof on the arena with 26 seconds to play, leading to a Wolves time out. Gill was licking his chops on the defensive end as he hunted the ball down and stole it from Callum Jones, then had the presence of mind to find Clark who laid up to score with six seconds left.
Lions restricted Wolves to just four points in the last five minutes to complete a much needed success, much to the delight of the home crowd and coach New.
Their win was all the more satisfactory as it came two days after Eagles held on to seal a nine-point victory.
Lions trailed by just two after the opening session before the visitors stormed ahead to lead 53-41 at the break. Clark hit 30 points on the night, and really came to life in the third quarter as the hosts took it 23-20 and his side trailed Eagles 73-64.
Having worked so hard with the vociferous crowd right behind them, there was a sigh of disappointment as an 8-0 run for Eagles saw them take control in the final period as Lions fell just short.
Nevertheless, their weekend performances marked a significant improvement for Lions who remain10th in the Championship table. But they face another tough run of fixtures in the weeks ahead, starting with a trip to Guildford Heat on Sunday. They then return to the Lions Arena next Wednesday for the visit of league leader Mersey Tigers.