WORCESTER Wolves missed out on the chance to seal a spot in the British Basketball League end-of-season playoffs when they fell to an 85-75 defeat at Surrey Scorchers.
Wolves now hold a 13-15 win-loss record and stand amongst a clutch of six teams crowding to squash into four post-season places.
An up and down contest was tied at 73-73 entering the final three minutes before, inspired by lively plays from highly-regarded 18-year-old US college prospect Cameron Hildreth, Surrey wrenched the upper hand.
Lamarr Kimble took the spotlight in the early going with a couple of three-pointers, setting up scores for Worcester big-men Elijah Burns and Jordan Williams, and jabbing the ball away from his attacker to enable Micah Elan to debut on the scoresheet.
Kimble connected again at the start of the second quarter to nudge his side 24-23 in front. Mike Parks also produced a steal ahead of a put-back jam to extend the lead, before Scorchers took their turn to control matters.
A few seconds before half-time Surrey point guard Tony Hicks emerged from a timeout huddle to sink a buzzer-beating triple and bring up a 44-37 advantage.
Momentum switched again after the interval when Burns and Parks took charge near the basket and Maarten Bouwknecht succeeded on several drives to produce a 65-61 edge as the final quarter began.
Williams took aim from the free-throw line eight times in the last period but a make-one/miss-one pattern enabled Scorchers to keep in touch with their visitors.
Kimble was whistled twice for fouls in his attempts to slow attacks from Hildreth and the game’s outcome was finally decided when the Worcester guard was penalised further as he got in the way of a Hildreth long-range hurl in the closing minute.
Three-from-three made foul shots put matters out of reach at 81-75.
Kimble and Williams led the scoring with 17 and 14 points respectively. 13 points for Bouwknecht, a dozen from Parks and ten for Burns rounded out Wolves’ double-digit scorers.
“We did well in the third quarter to regain the lead but Surrey ramped up again, the ball stuck in our hands, and they did a good job in closing out on us,” said Wolves coach Matt Newby.
Having now completed the challenge of a five matches in ten days spell, Wolves have a break before taking to the court again at Sheffield Sharks on Sunday (April 18).
They conclude their regular-season fixtures by hosting Newcastle Eagles at the University of Worcester Arena the following Friday (April 23).
“We’ve just missed a chance to box off a playoff place,” added Newby. “But there’s bound to be quite a few more twists and turns in the playoff race, so we now have to make sure we take care of our own business in our final two games.”
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