Giants close on Conference title

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Manchester Giants lined up the Dairylea Dunkers Northern Conference title by sweeping aside their only challengers, the Sharks, 84-59, at the Sheffield Arena last night.

Sheffield endured a nightmare third quarter, hitting only seven points in total and being outscored 24-2 as Roy Hairston and Tony Dorsey ran riot for the Giants.

Hairston led their scorers with 24, ahead of 19 from Dorsey and 14 from Phil Handy. Terrell Myers scored 18 for Sheffield and Todd Cauthorn, the only Shark to find the target during Manchester's third quarter blitz, scored 14.

The victory put Giants two points ahead of Sheffield with four games to play each. But Giants, having clinched their Northern Conference series 3-0, will take the Conference title even if they finish level on points.

Sharks looked out of sorts at the Granby Halls on Friday night, sprinting for the line by outscoring Leicester City Riders 17-2 over the last three minutes, and 12-0 over the last two, to win 112-102.

"We just couldn't figure out how to stop them," Chris Finch, the Sheffield coach, said, as he watched a foretaste of Giants' performance last night. Leicester held the edge for the first 38 minutes, with even the 6ft 10in centre Rob Wilson blitzing them with five three-pointers.

Myers sparked the type of recovery which Sheffield so desperately needed yesterday. His three-pointer started the 12-0 run which Finch hoped had primed his team for yesterday's clash with the Giants. Instead Manchester can now clinch the Northern Conference title by winning at Thames Valley Tigers on Wednesday and Edinburgh Rocks on Thursday.

Tigers will strike little fear into the Giants after their Saturday night performance, losing 94-83 at the Southern Conference's bottom club, Brighton Bears, who took control at 82-69 with a 10-1 run.

The Rocks also lost, 85-82 at Newcastle Eagles, where the home team's Canadian international Andrew Mavis led their scorers with 18 points.