Surrey Heat 81 (25, 41, 65) v Sheffield Sharks 69 (18, 42, 49)
The Surrey Heat kept up their winning start to the season with a comfortable road win against the Sheffield Sharks on Sunday evening. The Sharks provided a stiffer test for the Heat than the Tigers had the weekend before, but ultimately they were swept away in a dominant third quarter.
The game was evenly balanced at half-time, with the Heat trailing by just a point, 41-42. This was after they had bossed the first quarter, taking a 25-18 before a Sharks fight-back gave them a one point lead at half-time. However, any thoughts the Sharks had of taking the momentum into the second half swiftly evaporated. Chavis Holmes put the Heat into the lead for good, scoring on an inbounds play with a shot from the corner. That put the Heat ahead, 43-42, and although Micah Williams tied the scores at 43-43 with a free-throw seconds later, that was as close as they would get.
Several calls went against the Heat in the opening two minutes, but this seemed to motivate the Heat rather than put them off their stride. Peter Simek, who had just come on, immediately scored inside, one of a number of impressive finishes at the rim by the young Slovak. This triggered an 18-0 run as the Heat shut out the Sharks for over five minutes. Heat head coach Creon Raftopoulos was delighted by his team’s defence and credited their ability to keep the Sharks out of the paint as the key to the victory.
Sam Cricelli scored six points in the run, all on jump shots, while Martelle McLemore scored with a put-back, having had his drive stopped by Mike Tuck. The Sharks called a timeout, but it was to no avail as Chavis Holmes got to the line for a pair of free-throws and then stole the ball, only to be fouled on his way to the basket, leading to another pair of free-throws. Albert Margai finished the run with a coast-to-coast drive.
That made it 61-43 with three minutes to go and forced the Sharks into a second timeout. Although they scored coming out of the timeout, it was too little, too late as the Heat kept pace with them for the rest of the quarter, taking a 65-49 lead into the last ten minutes.
Any hope the Sharks had of a comeback slowly slipped away as the Heat kept up the pressure. With five minutes to go, the Sharks had pulled it back to 12, the Heat ahead 73-61, but then came the defining play of the fourth quarter. Martelle stripped the ball from Mike Tuck on the half-way line, who was called for an unsportsmanlike foul as Martelle went for the dunk. This incensed Sharks coach Lyons, who got a technical foul for this troubles, leading to a total of four foul shots for the Heat and possession. This effectively put an end to the Sharks challenge and the Heat ran out winners, 81-69.
The Heat were led by Chavis Holmes, with a game-high double-double of 21 points and 12 rebounds. Martelle McLemore posted 17 points and eight rebounds, while Sam Cricelli chipped in with 16 points and six rebounds.
The Heat now look forward to a trip to London on Friday, 5th October, to take on the Lions and ex-Heat players, Mike Martin and Tayo Ogedengbe, before returning home to host the Worcester Wolves on Sunday, 7th October, 3 o’clock at the Surrey Sports Park.