Surrey Scorchers bowed out of the BBL Cup in the most heart-breaking fashion last night as the London Lions clinched an overtime win at Surrey Sports Park.
Three dominant quarters for the visitors gave little hope for the 700+ home fans in the arena, until a 30-point haul in the final period sent the tie into overtime where Lions turned up the heat and took the win.
Christian Behrens started his debut on the bench with birthday boy Coach Creon opting to start with Wilkins, Schreiber, Schlitzer, Neighbour and Ogedengbe against an experienced side from the capital.
Both teams started the game brightly and exchanged leads early on. Both Schlitzer and Ogedengbe put solid points on the board for the hosts before a short dry period stopped either side from advancing. Efforts from Kai Williams and Nick Lewis spring the Lions ahead with 1-10 run late on in the quarter, handing them a 16-25 lead at the break.
Behrens scored his first points in black mid-way through Q2 but by that point London has taken a 13 point advantage against a Scorchers side who didn’t look up for the challenge. Wilkins handed them a confidence boost with a tidy 3 from down town to end the period but the Lions extended their lead to 35-45 at half time.
London flew out of the blocks after the break. With just over 3 minutes gone they found themselves with a 19 point lead thanks to some solid rebounding at both ends of the court. Scorchers made numerous attempts to claw back the deficit, only managing their first field goal half way through the period thanks to a 3 from Behrens, but London took what looked like an unassailable 47-63 lead into the final quarter.
It was at this point that the tables turned. Wilkins and Ogedengbe bagged 3-pointers from the off to swing the momentum in Scorchers’ favour, followed by superb defensive pressure from Schlitzer to force a back court violation. Lions captain Joe Ikinmwin was sent packing half way through the Q after being fouled out, allowing Scorchers a 10-1 run in the closing minutes to close the gap right up.
With 0.41 on the clock Felder picked up his 5th foul of the evening to also sit out, leaving Lions with two
chances from the charity line. Both were missed keeping Surrey within 3 points of their opponents. The clock registered 13.2 seconds remaining when the hero of the evening Henry Wilkins found the basket from long range to send the crowd wild and secure overtime for his side at 77-all.
With full momentum in the hands of the hosts, Lions knew they needed to step up again. And that they did, taking 12 points in the extra period to Scorchers’ 4 and handing themselves a tie in the next round of the BBL Cup. Heartbreak for Scorchers players, coaches and fans alike.
Ogedengbe, Schlitzer and Wilkins all picked up 17 points each on the night, but a heroic effort from every man on court leaves heads held high in what was one of the most exciting games of basketball ever seen at Surrey Sports Park in front of a record crowd.
Scorchers will refocus in training this week as they prepare to host the Plymouth Raiders in the BBL Championship on Saturday evening (7pm tip-off), with news of much needed point guard signing coming in this week!