WORCESTER Wolves started the new decade in mixed fashion as a place in the BBL Cup final was slighty overshadowed with a disappointing BBL Trophy defeat to Chershire Phoenix.
Matt Newby’s men will face Bristol Flyers in the showpiece final on January 26 at Arena Birmingham after an 83-71 triumph and a 146-137 aggregate win over perennial powerhouse Leicester Riders.
Leicester went into Friday’s semi-final second leg decider holding a 66-63 advantage gained from December’s reverse fixture at the University of Worcester Arena.
And the East Midlands side looked odds-on to take their place in the final when they raised into a 12-point lead in the opening quarter.
But Worcester drew a line in the sand, putting a lid over their basket to limit Riders to just a single point in the next five minutes while hurling in 18 points of their own to dominate the rest of the evening to emerge on top.
It was a case of after the Lord Mayor’s Show for Wolves as they slipped to an 88-69 defeat in their first round BBL Trophy tie at the Phoenix on Sunday.
The hosts had not hit the court since before Christmas as opposed to Wolves who faced their fourth game in just over a week.
Wolves began the match with dependable forward Jordan Williams not suited up and standout centre Amir Williams sat on the bench. The latter only came onto court for a few moments, slotting in a single basket, before retiring from the action.
Raheem May-Thompson was the feature of a competitive opening quarter, making a trio of scores to restrict Phoenix to an 18-14 lead.
But a gulf between the sides soon became evident. May-Thompson’s final points of the first-half came after Cheshire had stretched their advantage to double-figures at 30-20 five minutes before the interval.
Mark Hughes toiled for nine points over the second-quarter but with scant offensive output from elsewhere, Cheshire eagerly snatched the opportunity to pull away.
Former Worcester guard Disraeli Lufadeju stepped up in a two minute spell where he sank consecutive three-pointers and produced a strong drive to the hoop to establish 50-33 half-time control for the hosts.
The gap remained steady at 66-49 entering the final quarter of the match.
Busy work from Cortez Edwards, including a circus shot that rocketed skywards and somehow flew down through the net at the same speed, was to be Worcester’s last hurrah, narrowing the deficit to 66-55 with seven minutes remaining.
Time and again Wolves were outmanned around both baskets, leaving Cheshire to ease to the win.
Wolves can make amends on Friday when Cheshire make the trip to the University of Worcester Arena for a BBL Championship encounter.