WORCESTER Wolves gave themselves a timely boost ahead of their new British Basketball League campaign with a thrilling last-second victory over Bristol Flyers in their final pre-season friendly.
Flyers’ dangerous rookie guard Gentrey Thomas converted an unlikely shot as he fell backwards, putting his side 70-69 ahead with just a couple of seconds remaining, silencing a boisterous University of Worcester Arena crowd.
But, after a steadying time out, Worcester’s own livewire American recruit Cortez Edwards flew forward to the opposite end, releasing the ball a fraction before the full-time hooter sounded to prompt wild celebrations at a 71-70 home success.
A quiet beginning to the evening saw Wolves take a 22-16 first-quarter lead.
Edwards sank a triple to extend the advantage. Raheem May-Thompson and Mark Hughes were also on target from afar and suddenly the score stood at 34-22.
A May-Thompson dunk as the first half ended finalised Worcester’s 44-25 dominance.
However, Bristol’s own purple patch saw them hack away and eventually overturn the lead. With five minutes of the match to go the visitors were 62-61 to the good.
Repeated bustles to the hoop from British forward Jordan Williams kept the pot boiling ahead of the exciting finale.
Williams led the scoring with 22 points, as well as grabbing a dozen rebounds. May-Thompson with 16 points and Hughes with ten also scored in double digits.
Edwards was a whisker away from a triple-double of statistics with 15 points, ten rebounds and nine assists.
“To use a football analogy, it was certainly a game of two halves,” said Wolves head coach Matt Newby.
“We dominated before the interval but fatigue hit us and we made a lot of errors in the third quarter.
“Bristol gave us a stern test but I’m really pleased with how the boys responded to the challenge. We withstood their comeback and made a big play to take the game at the end.”
British Basketball League and Cup holders London Lions visit the University of Worcester Arena for Friday’s season-opening BBL Cup meeting (tip-off 7.30pm).
“Lions are coming off a champagne year,” said Newby. “They’ve retained a lot of their key players and will be the toughest of tests for us.
“But I’d rather take them on now and see where we stand at this time of the year.
“We left Kofi Josephs and Maarten Bouwknecht out against Bristol as a precautionary measure but I’m confident they’ll both be ready to go on Friday.”