Sheffield Sharks claimed the domestic basketball season's first piece of silverware with a 89-86 victory over Cheshire Jets in the BBL Cup final in Birmingham.
Spurred by 19 points apiece from Mike Cook and Ryan Patton, the league leaders justified their tag as favourites by seizing control in the opening stages and holding off Cheshire's frenetic late rally.
It was an even opening to the game, despite two three-pointers from Sharks' fit-again playmaker Patton. However, it was Cheshire who took the first significant advantage - they enjoyed a 9-2 run to lead 18-11, with threes from James Hamilton and Chez Marks. Sheffield battled back and scored the final 11 points of the quarter to take a 22-18 lead into the second quarter.
Sharks' lead was extended to eight points at 28-20 midway through the second stanza on the back of a Mike Tuck bucket.
However, the quarter proved to be a relatively low scoring affair, as both teams looked to limit their opponents chances. Sheffield pulled out the biggest lead of the half at 37-26, courtesy of seven unanswered points, including a Perry Lawson three-pointer.
Sharks applied the pressure in the third quarter - a 7-2 start saw them leading 48-35, thank in no small part to the scoring of Mike Cook. Jets managed a few long range shots, but ultimately struggled to find their range and Sharks led 64-48 going into the final quarter.
However, the Jets – led by a game-high 24 points and 12 rebounds from Hamilton, the final's Most Valuable Player - applied pressure to trim the deficit.
A Colin O'Reilly three-pointer with 1.33 to go saw Jets get back to within three points at 76-79. Tuck pulled Sharks back, before Hamilton and then O'Reilly again cut the gap back to three points.
Paul Peterson had the chance to cut it back to a one-point ball game, but failed to convert his free throws with 26 seconds remaining and with Jets in the penalty they were forced to foul to try to regain possession.
Lawson scored four from four free throws to keep Jets at arms length and while Marks scored twice it was not enough to steal victory.
"It's great to win the first silverware of the season," Atiba Lyons player-coach of the Sharks commented.
"Chester made it tough for us in the final quarter, but we are delighted to get our hands on some silverware."