WORCESTER Wolves consolidated their hold on third place in the British Basketball League by seeing off Plymouth Raiders 77-70 on Friday.
Extra seating had to be set up as lines of spectators poured into a packed University of Worcester Arena, eager to see their team return to the city after a month on the road.
Buoyed by the noisy support, new point guard Jordan Aaron announced his arrival in Worcester with a confident three-pointer after four minutes had elapsed and repeated the feat a minute later.
Javier Mugica then added a score as Wolves found themselves 17-8 ahead.
Raiders’ Cory Dixon was on the mark as time expired in the first quarter to bring matters back to 24-18, before both sides settled into a defensive stand-off for the remainder of the first half.
Mugica twice laid on clever assists for Perris Blackwell to convert, helping the hosts to stay just in front at 37-34 by the interval.
A textbook play where every Worcester player had a touch of the ball was eventually rounded off by Pavol Losonsky to open the second half.
A wraparound dunk from Blackwell eased Wolves out to 43-36 after the opening three minutes, but a double of baskets for Dixon again drew the sides close together at 49-47 as the third period wound down.
The final quarter still stood close at 56-53 but, when Ashton Khan floated home an imperious triple, the wolfpack gained some much-needed momentum.
Orlan Jackman nailed his first basket from the field and Khan was again on target, breaking the match open at 66-57 to finally end Raiders’ resistance.
Fans were on their feet in the last minute to celebrate Aaron rattling home the last of eight consecutive successful free throws that sealed the win.
Aaron and Blackwell notched 17 points apiece to lead the home scorers, closely followed by Losonsky on 14. Mugica and Jackman had big rebounding performances, grabbing 13 and 10 boards respectively.
Dixon top scored for Plymouth with 24 points.
Wolves’ head coach Paul James said: “It was a really good win for us and our fans were tremendous and produced a fabulous atmosphere.
“We stuck to our plays and got stops when we needed to. It was a solid team effort.”
Wolves return to the University of Worcester Arena on Friday, April 1 to welcome title contenders Leicester Riders.