A LAST-second scoop from Micah Elan edged Worcester Wolves past a resilient Cheshire Phoenix in a dramatic finale at the University of Worcester Arena on Friday.
With just over five minutes left in the evening Wolves held command at 65-50. But a dash to the hoop from Cheshire’s quicksilver guard Kahron Ross topped off a stunning late burst of scoring to tie the teams at 71-71 with just 1.4 seconds remaining.
Coach Matt Newby called a timeout to draw up a last play. Lamarr Kimble inbounded to Elan who stayed clear of defenders to propel Worcester to a 73-71 nail-biting success.
“Micah made a smart move to get his man out of his stance, took the dribble and knocked the ball down,” summarised Newby.
“But it wasn’t the way we wanted to have to finish the game. Cheshire jumped back on us. They got too many points from too many turnovers.
“It wasn’t pretty at times, but we showed flashes of what could be once our players are more familiar with each other.”
A sluggish start to proceedings saw Cheshire nudge into a 14-12 first quarter advantage with Jordan Williams the only player managing to impact the host’s side of the scoreboard.
Williams took on the role of provider to allow Maarten Bouwknecht to announce his return from injury with a three-pointer, reversing the lead, before serving up a double of further assists to widen the gap.
Phoenix were harried into an unsportsmanlike foul as they struggled to slow Wolves’ momentum. Mike Parks bagged his first home court points after a sprint up the floor and Josh McSwiggan turned and hooked the ball into the net for a 37-24 half-time cushion.
American duo Brandon Anderson and Kj Lawson drained outside shots while their countryman Parks got busy close to the basket for a swift four scores, keeping Worcester 58-46 clear of their visitors entering the final period.
Williams continued to prove his reliability but Cheshire, driven on by the speed of Ross, whittled away at the arrears, setting up the exciting finish to the match.
Williams dominated the scoring with 24 points to sit alongside an impressive nine assists, supported by 11 points from Lawson and 10 apiece for Anderson and Parks.
Wolves are quickly back into action tomorrow (Sunday) when they travel to Bristol Flyers.
“Matches between us and Bristol are typically physical and hard-nosed – I am expecting another hard-fought affair on Sunday,” added Newby.
“I’m pleased with aspects of today’s game but we will need to be more disciplined than today. Simply put, we need to be better for longer.”