Experience of Sharks is too much for Force

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Sheffield Sharks reinforced their position as the premier team in Yorkshire with a resounding 71-52 victory over BBL rookies Leeds Force in the county’s first top-flight derby.

But for a brief rally early in the second half, Force were ruthlessly dispatched by a team celebrating 20 years of professional basketball this year.

COMING UP SHORT: James McCann gets a shot in for Leeds Force against Sheffield Sharks last night. Picture: Bruce Rollinson.

COMING UP SHORT: James McCann gets a shot in for Leeds Force against Sheffield Sharks last night. Picture: Bruce Rollinson.

Led by American guard Nick Lewis with 19 points, Sharks snapped a five-game losing streak and moved towards mid-table in the BBL standings.

Force remain rooted to the foot of the 13-team table with just two wins from 13 games.

There are mitigating circumstances. They are a fledgling professional operation that stepped up to the top flight only this season.

They have a budget and a support base that falls comfortably short of that enjoyed by their rivals from down the M1, but even that cannot mask their problems in front of the basket last night.

Force were successful on fewer than 25 per cent of their shots in the first half last night, considerably lower than the ratio they have been hitting in making a number of other established teams sweat in recent weeks.

James McCann provided the only sustained scoring threat achieved by the hosts, the San Diego State graduate scoring 21 points and the only two baskets of the second quarter as the game went away from Leeds.

“In terms of what we’ve produced this year so far we were nowhere near as good,” said Force’s director of professional basketball Matt Newby.

“We weren’t good enough in terms of execution and decision-making and they pressed us really well.

“Even when we put a run together they found a way to put the brakes on it and that’s the sign of a good team.

“We hope that this will become a rivalry that is good for the league and the sport in this area, but we have got to make a game out of it.”

Nick Lewis led the way for Sharks with 19 points with Allen Payne and Mike Tuck each contributing 15. Patrick Horstmann claimed 10 rebounds.

American forward Tuck said: “It was important for us to get back to winning ways tonight and it was a strong performance that proves that we have so much more to give.”

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