Lions losing grip on BBL play-off places

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INCONSISTENT is probably the kindest way of describing Lions’ season so far, after another two defeats saw them fall further off the British Basketball League play-off pace.

Mike New’s side produced an excellent six-game winning run in January and February, but all that hard work has been undone by another painful slip in form which has now seen them lose their last four.

Friday night’s match against lowly Worthing Thunder - one of just two sides below them in the Championship table - gave Lions the perfect chance to respond to their unlucky defeats Cheshire Jets and Glasgow Rocks.

But a shocking 95-88 defeat to Thunder at the Lions Arena was followed by a similarly poor loss at Worcester Wolves on Sunday.

New’s men are four points off the top eight, but have played a good number of their games in hand now. If they had won their two weekend games they’d now be occupying a play-off spot for the first time this season.

To put Friday’s defeat at home to Worthing into context - it was just the second time the south coast side had won in 21 outings this season. Sunday’s 99-95 loss at Wolves was less of a surprise, but just as damaging following Lions’ result 48-hours earlier.

A 12-2 run from Thunder saw them lead 16-6 mid-way through the first period, but Lions kept themselves in the game as they spent the remainder of the first quarter closing the deficit and got to within four points at 20-24 at the end of the session.

In the second period a Stefan Gill three-pointer gave the home side a brief lead at 32-31, but this was the final time Lions would have the edge in the contest as a Adam Williams three-pointer in response sparked an 18-2 burst to take the score out to 34-49.

Lions were very lacklustre, and only Demarius Bolds and Shawn Myers showed urgency as Thunder maintained that 15 point advantage into the locker rooms, leading 36-51 at the half.

In the second half, an 8-0 run from Lions trimmed the deficit to four points at 51-55 midway through the third quarter, but that was the closest they would get in the remainder as an 11-2 response from Thunder saw the score out to 53-65.

And the visitors enjoyed their biggest lead at 72-88 with two minutes remaining in the fourth period as they remained strong to seal victory, despite the best efforts of Bolds who finished on a highly impressive 37 points.

Things didn’t get much better for Lions on Sunday, although they did at least make a game of it - a one-shot game with just 21 seconds remaining in fact.

Lions had made an excellent start to go 4-12 ahead on a Kris Clark three, but Wolves quickly countered through a 13-2 burst to give them a 17-14 lead.

Nothing could separate them for the rest of the quarter until a Michael Creppy three helped the hosts to a 22-21 advantage after 10 minutes.

Wolves hit last five points of the first half to lead 55-46, and despite Lions trimming the gap to just four midway through the third quarter, they were ahead by double-digits (81-71) heading into the final stanza.

It was nip and tuck during the fourth, and despite losing Myers to five fouls, Lions battled back.

After Yorick Williams was fouled scoring three, the veteran made all of them from the line to cut the gap down to three with those 21 seconds left. And then a Clark lay-up made it two after a free throw from Creppy.

But Wolves kept their cool to see the game out, leaving Lions to look ahead to a return trip to Wolves this Friday before they welcome Sheffield Sharks to town on Sunday at 5pm.