Report: Riders take Game One against Sharks

Leicester Riders snatched Game One against the Sheffield Sharks in the clutch, winning 84-81 on the road. 

Miryne Thomas led the team with 24 points and 8 rebounds, scoring 5 points down the stretch in his professional playoff debut. Fellow rookie Jaren Holmes backed him with 21 points and 6 rebounds. 

It was Teddy Allen who sealed the game from the foul line, going 4-4 with the pressure piled high and seconds on the clock. Leicester came back from a deficit of seven in the final quarter to steal home court in the best-of-three series. 

For Sheffield, Prentiss Nixon exploded for 25 points off the bench, getting big bucket after big bucket when it got close late. The Sharks scored 59 bench points in the game, but didn’t have a starter score in double digits. 

The series will go back to Leicester for Game Two on Saturday May 4, tipping off at 6:45 pm, with the Riders having the opportunity to end the series with a sweep. 

Riders bolt out the gate

Allen, who averaged 29 against the Sharks this season, wasted no time getting on the board with an and-one for Leicester’s opening score. 

It was an 8-2 start for the Riders, as Jaren Holmes knocked down his first shot of the postseason from the corner, settling any nerves from the visiting camp. 

Leicester’s lightning start forced a quick Sharks timeout, after Thomas threw down a fastbreak jam- the ninth of the night for the Riders to make it 4-14. 

Holmes made the Riders’ second and-one play of the game with 2:21 left in the period, as they continued to lead from the front early.  

Sharks bite back

The Sharks got back in it at the hands of Nixon, who snatched momentum with five straight points. Nixon scored 11 in the first quarter to lead the game, and bring Sheffield back into it. 

Jalon Pipkins then cut it to five with a tough fadeaway, before Rodney Glasgow Jr followed with a three for the hosts. 

The late surge in the first meant it was 26-28 with one played. And quickly in the second the Sharks took the lead, as Kipper Nichols connected from the corner to make it 31-30. 

It was the Riders’ turn to try to stem the tide with a timeout after Pipkins’ 11th points. But they only scored 10 in the second quarter in their attempt to take the lead back. 

Glasgow got going midway through the second to build the Sharks’ lead to six, and the score was 38-32 by the media timeout. Sheffield’s leading scorer Malek Green then took the mantle from Glasgow with three quick scores and a big block on Holmes. 

The Riders got to the hoop to get their side of the scoreboard ticking over late in the half. Holmes charged to the paint repeatedly to set the tone in that regard, while Thomas got to the foul line after an offensive rebound, and Leicester brought themselves back within five. 

But two scores at the rim for Sheffield ended the half with the score 47-38. 

Sharks fend off Riders run

The Riders made a run back into the game with Thomas hitting their first three of the half, while Allen took it coast-to-coast to cut it to five once again. 

Holmes added another six to his tally, making it 17 on the game midway through the third, and the score was 57-53 to the hosts. 

Next time up, Sesan Russell led the fastbreak after a steal. He gave it to Allen, who threw up a lob to Thomas. The American rose high and threw it down with authority, making it a one score game for the first time since late in the opening period. 

The Sharks, however, kept ahead with timely scores throughout the third. Jordan Ratinho hit from three with a minute left in the period, and Devearl Ramsey finished inside at the buzzer to make it 67-60 with one to play. 

Resurgent Riders win in the clutch

To start the fourth, the Riders were right back in it. Veteran guard Conner Washington hit a transition three two minutes into the period, making it a two point difference. TJ Lall then tied it up with a putback layup, and Allen took the lead with a floater. 

For Sheffield, Nixon came up huge in the fourth. He scored nine of the Sharks’ 14 points in the quarter, and hit a three for his 20th points to stop the rampant Riders. 

Nixon went back and forth with Thomas, the pair exchanging tough buckets throughout the final stages. The Riders looked in control late after Thomas connected on a fadeaway, but a Nixon midrange jumper and Pipkins three tied the game at 79. 

Pipkins had a shot for the lead with 21 seconds left, but he hit the rim and Allen was fouled on the rebound. Allen knocked down both shots, and next time up the floor Green missed a three to win it, and Allen got the rebound again to seal the Riders Game One win. 

Taking a win back to Leicester

Tickets are on sale for Game Two of the series at the Mattioli Arena, on May 4 at 6:45 pm.

Tickets also include entry to the women’s playoff opener against Essex Rebels at 2:45 pm, and the first 1,200 fans through the door will receive a free Riders “Dark Horse” t-shirt.

Get tickets here!