Basketball: Ruthless Sharks lift play-off title

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The Independent Online

Sheffield Sharks fought injury-hit Chester Jets to a standstill at Birmingham's National Indoor Arena last night to win the British Basketball League play-off final 86-74.

Sheffield, who beat London Towers 94-88 in Saturday's semi-finals, passed the ball between them unmolested to count out the final 24 seconds of the game, with exhausted Chester players watching and waiting for the final buzzer to put them out for the count.

Neither side grabbed a hold in the first half until John McCord limped to the Chester bench with the injury to his strapped left calf plainly paining him and restricting his mobility. Sheffield's athletic 6ft 8in forward Lynard Stewart immediately capitalised exploiting McCord's replacement, the lumbering Billy Singleton, under Chester's basket to open a 39-34 lead.

H L Coleman's three-pointer then put Sheffield 44-38 ahead at the half. McCord returned, but by the time he scored Jet's first basket of the second half, Stewart had sparked a 7-0 run to give Sheffield a 51-40 lead.

After Saturday night's 17-point comeback to beat Brighton Bears 80-79 in the semi-final, Jets still had the energy to throw a full court press, panicking the Sharks into conceding seven straight points.

Rob Yanders steadied Sheffield with two soft baskets inside to give Sheffield a 60-55 third-quarter lead and Sheffield pulled away to make up for previous disappointments and finally lift the play-off title.