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Report: Riders overcome red hot Sharks

Leicester Riders made it four wins on the bounce, beating the Sheffield Sharks 108-94 in a game contested wire-to-wire. 

Teddy Allen went off for 35 points and 12 rebounds, shooting 50% and 44% from three in a Player of the Game performance.

He was backed by Jaren Holmes who scored 19, hitting a tough three through contact to end the half to jolt momentum into the team. 

The Sharks started hot, scoring 57 points in the first half, their most in any half this season. But the Riders overcame it, ending the third quarter on an 11-0 run and seeing out a win in the clutch. 

Sheffield was led by Malek Green who put up 19 points and 11 rebounds. They entered the game as the lowest-scoring offence in the League, but caught fire from the off to challenge the Riders throughout. 

A slow start for the Riders, with them struggling to find the bottom of the basket despite generating good looks, saw them fall into a 10-3 hole after 5 points from Sharks’ forward Jordan Ratinho.

It became 15-6 after Green spilt out onto the fastbreak for an easy two, which forced a Riders timeout after 3:24. 

The Sharks poured in the points in the first quarter. Green was firing from the jump to put up double digits in six minutes, and he made it a double-digit lead at 22-12 with a triple. Sheffield found joy on the glass to snatch 5 offensive rebounds until the Riders closed in to end the period. 

The insertion of Duke Shelton into the game saw the Riders clean up the glass and get back into the game. An 8-2 end to the first meant they trailed 30-27 after one. 

The high-scoring start didn’t stop in the second quarter, with each of the teams scoring on their first two possessions. Sheffield rebuilt their lead to 10 as Rodney Glasgow Jr pulled up from midrange- the visitors continuing their offensive hot streak. 

But again, Leicester found form as the clock ticked down. They went on an 11-2 run, capped off by a triple from Mo Walker, to bring it back within a score with two minutes left in the half.

The Sharks bit back, bringing it back to an eight-point game with a pull-up from three in transition by Glasgow Jr, but Holmes ended the second period with a three-point heave, taking a foul for another point at the foul line to make it 57-53 at the half. 

Leicester quickly tied it up to start the second half. Allen and Samuel Idowu scored four quick points to even the score and set the stage for the remainder of the tie. They took their first lead of the game a few minutes into the half, and Allen pulled up from deep to find separation with the score 64-59. 

Leicester had momentum in the final few minutes, Allen lighting the spark after pulling up on the dribble from deep. He drew an unsportsmanlike foul on Jalon Pipkins after they tangled legs on the break, and Shelton followed his subsequent free throws with a monster two-hand jam. 

The Riders entered the final period leading 82-71. 

Allen made his mark on the start of the fourth, pulling up from the car park for his fourth triple. But the Sharks stayed in the game, finding runs to the rim to chip into their deficit. They started the fourth 12-5, RJ Eytle-Rock cutting the game to five at the foul line. 

It was a tie game with five minutes left, as Devearl Ramsey pulled up from midrange to lock the teams at 88. They took the lead next time down through Bennet Koch, the Sharks holding all of the momentum. 

Kimbal Mackenzie took it back with a corner three, off the back of his clutch performance last time out in Caledonia. He was followed by Holmes, who fought his way to the free-throw line and put Leicester up 94-90. 

Lall was the next to be sent to the foul line, and rebounded his own miss and made the putback as the Riders found form in the clutch. Idowu scored a layup next time up the floor to put Leicester up seven with 1:37 left, and the Riders saw the game out from there. 

The Riders return to action on Sunday, heading to Plymouth to take on the Patriots on the road.