Complacent Sharks slump at Brighton

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The Independent Online

Sheffield Sharks, the Northern Conference leaders coasting towards the play-offs with their place in the last eight already assured, slumped to their fifth defeat out of their last six games on Saturday night, losing 81-75 at Brighton Bears.

Sheffield Sharks, the Northern Conference leaders coasting towards the play-offs with their place in the last eight already assured, slumped to their fifth defeat out of their last six games on Saturday night, losing 81-75 at Brighton Bears.

Wilbur Johnson, who was cut from Sheffield's roster last summer, top-scored with 25 points as the Bears continued to climb away from bottom place in the South with their fourth win in their last five games.

Sharks' Peter Scantlebury scored the 13 points he needed to equal Russ Saunders on 8,945 as the all-time joint leading scorer in the game's history.

London Towers confirmed their place in the play-offs with Friday's 98-97 win at Newcastle Eagles, then moved on to their inevitable Southern Conference title with Saturday's 85-78 win over Manchester Giants.

Towers are also through to the North European League play-offs and play Ventspils in Latvia on 14 March and at Crystal Palace on 23 March.

Manchester's defeat at Towers pushed them out of a play-off spot, as Leicester Riders capitalised on the absence of suspended Chris Webber to defeat Edinburgh Rocks 116-75 and climb to fourth place in the North. Larry Johnson led Leicester's scorers with 41 points.

Birmingham Bullets, who will stage the qualifying round of this season's NEBL Challenge Cup next week, strengthened their grip on fourth place in the South by coming from behind to defeat Derby Storm 86-82. Bullets' former Derby player, Antonio Garcia, scored seven consecutive points to tie the scores on 76-76, before Rob Paternostro and Brant Bailey, 27 points, secured victory from the foul line.

London Leopards' Bob Donewald, still coaching while his club prepare to contest pending suspensions in the High Court, saw his team win 109-101 at Thames Valley Tigers, who are in danger of being caught by Brighton at the foot of the South.

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