Report: Cheshire Phoenix 75-87 Bristol Flyers
Sunday, March 31st 2019
Bristol Flyers claimed an important road win to take the season series over Cheshire Phoenix.
Justin Gray led all scorers with 20 points, helping Flyers improve their record to 11 wins and 14 losses on the season. Fred Thomas added 19 points, six rebounds, three assists and two steals.
Flyers overturned their recent history of slow starts, coming out strong and getting their work done early in the game. A reworked Flyers rotation saw Tevin Falzon and Daniel Edozie back in the starting line-up. Edozie won the tip-off and Thomas got Flyers going early, ripping down an offensive rebound and laying it back up and in.
Falzon got to the free throw line for two easy points. Jalan McCloud showed great on-ball defence, stripping the ball from Daniel Norl and feeding Gray for a soaring two-handed dunk in transition. McCloud then cut through the Phoenix defence for a driving lay-up of his own. Thomas found Edozie for a score in the paint and all five Flyers starters were out of the gate with an early 4-10 lead.
McCloud was the beneficiary of great paint position as he snuck under the Phoenix bigs for an offensive rebound to force a Cheshire time-out. Mike Vigor was first off the bench for Bristol and was active in the passing lanes, picking up a steal which led to a transition three for Gray.
McCloud found Vigor with a go-ahead pass for a pull-up three-pointer of his own. Momcilo Latinovic was able to stem the bleeding for Cheshire at the free throw line, knocking down all of his shots after getting fouled by Thomas on a three-point attempt. Flyers’ defence continued to fuel their offence with Marcus Delpeche also picking up a steal and then trailing the play for a put back lay-up in transition.
Bristol continued to find success in the paint. Gray showed off his handles with a crossover beating his man off the drive for an easy lay-up. Flyers finished the first quarter strong to claim a 14-24 lead.
Lewis Champion kept the offence humming in the second quarter, driving and dishing to Delpeche for a dunk then finding McCloud for a pull-up jumper. McCloud was again able to steal the ball from Norl and went coast-to-coast for an easy score. A put back lay-up for Edozie completed an 8-0 run to start the second period..
Latinovic answered with a three-pointer. The Phoenix Captain was heating up fast, hitting a lay-up and a fadeaway three. Timely three-pointers from Falzon and Champion kept the Flyers lead in double figures. Cheshire kept battling and Dii’Jon Allen-Jordan made a three-point-play the hard way. A Flyers turnover allowed Jalen Hayes to cut the lead to nine with a mid-range basket. Justin Gray stepped up with a huge three-pointer off a McCloud assist. Flyers survived the run, heading into half-time ahead 33-43.
Thomas came out firing in the second half. He splashed a three-pointer off a well timed skip pass from Falzon and then knocked down a turn-around jumper. Cheshire centre CJ Gettys was able to get multiple scores in the paint and the Flyers lead was once again looking assailable.
With both teams locking in on defence, Vigor eventually broke through to draw a foul and hit both of his foul shots. Edozie remained a force on the glass, tipping in a missed shot for one of his team-high eight rebounds. Flyers dominated the battle of the boards during the game, grabbing 43 rebounds to 30 from Phoenix. Gray finished the third period on fire, hitting two more three-pointers to grow the lead. Bristol took a 46-60 lead into the final quarter.
Jalen Hayes started the fourth with a three-pointer, but Flyers continued to get into the paint, this time with Gray hitting a lay-up. McCloud broke down the defence for a score through contact from Allen-Jordan and completed the three-point-play at the line. Coach Ben Thomas looked to make some adjustments with a time-out.
The Phoenix defence was able to force a miss from McCloud, but Edozie was right there to put the ball back in. A 7-0 run from Phoenix followed and Coach Kapoulas took a time-out to steady his team. Thomas made key scores for Flyers down the stretch, getting to the line and hitting another turnaround jumpshot. Back to back three-pointers from Daniel Norl cut the lead to just six points heading into the final minute.
Champion was able to cut through the Cheshire defence for a lay-up. He followed up with a drive and dish to Thomas for a dagger three-pointer to restore a 10 point lead. Coach Thomas took another time-out. McCloud and Thomas displayed clutch composure with both converting a pair free-throws to seal the win.
Images courtesy of JMPUK.