LATE heroics from new playmaker Jordan Aaron helped Worcester Wolves prevail 92-91 in an overtime thriller at Leeds Force on Friday.
Javier Mugica tallied Worcester’s first seven points before Aaron opened his account with a triple for an early 10-4 lead.
Ahead 21-16 as the second quarter began, Pavol Losonsky and Mugica settled into what would be a night-long battle for space against Leeds’ big men Zak Wells and Robert Marsden.
A trio of buckets for Losonsky was tempered by Force fighting back to a 39-39 half time score.
It was still all square at 61-61 with one second to go in the third quarter when Leeds forward Louis Sayers launched a highly optimistic shot from inside his own half which flew through the hoop, bringing home supporters to their feet.
The Force advantage stretched to 79-72 with three minutes to go, before Orlan Jackman wove the ball to Aaron who took up position on the edge of the arc to calmly sink a three-pointer.
Leeds were unable to contain Aaron on his next possession, leading to two successful foul shots which tied the match at 81-81.
The hosts went back in front before Aaron again drove to the basket to force five minutes of added time.
Jackman inked the scoresheet for the first time when the extra period commenced and, when Wolves led 92-87 inside the last minute, it looked as if the contest had finally been decided.
However, point guard Mark Klassen managed to sink a triple and a bonus free throw as Leeds trailed by a single point with just 14 seconds remaining.
Klassen then dribbled down court to run the clock down in the hope of a decisive score to win the game.
However, an off the ball offensive foul by Leeds forward Armand Anebo on Mugica turned over control to Wolves, who finally edged a 92-91 success, keeping them in third place in the British Basketball League behind Newcastle Eagles and Leicester Riders.
Head coach Paul James said: “It was an up and down performance and a bit crazy at the end, but I’m really pleased we came away with the win.
“Aaron only arrived here last Wednesday and is still getting used to the team, but he had an excellent game. He controlled the ball well down the stretch and that’s what we brought him in to do.”
Aaron, who led Wolves’ scoring with 23 points said: “It was a well-fought game. There was tension at the end but we held our composure. This was about the team doing what it had to do to get the win.
“Everyone in the team has gone out of their way to make me feel comfortable here.”
Wolves will be on the road again this Friday at Newcastle Eagles with a 7.30pm tip-off, before returning to the University of Worcester Arena on Friday, March 18 to welcome Plymouth Raiders to the city.