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By Nigel Slater Monday 12 November 2012 Updated: 12/11 17:02
WORCESTER Wolves responded to head coach Paul James' pre-match rallying call with a 97-84 win against Cheshire.
After two consecutive defeats last weekend in the League and Cup, James demanded a big improvement from his players and they delivered winning a close BBL Championship contest at the University of Worcester.
In a thrilling topsy-turvy game, 19-year-old English forward Kalil Irving came to the fore for the home side at the most critical time to help Wolves return to winning ways.
In a scrappy opening neither side was able to establish clear superiority but it was Wolves who had the better of proceedings as Stan Ocitti and Alex Owumi helped Worcester to a 20-14 lead at the end of the first quarter.
A dunk from Irving extended the hosts' lead before Cheshire player-coach Chez Marks sprung the visitors into action with consecutive scores from distance and a close basket to bring the scores level at 22-22.
The remainder half remained close and scrappy featuring several turnovers and missed lay-ups. But sloppy play from the home side at the end of the first half saw Cheshire take a 47-42 half-time lead as Marks continued to fire in the baskets.
Wolves regrouped in the second half and levelled the scores again soon after the restart. The third period then saw the match swing one way and then the other as both sides locked horns with each other.
An Owumi triple with three minutes left gave Worceter a four-point lead at 63-59 with three minutes of the third quarter remaining. But Cheshire hit back with three-point baskets from Marks and Shawn Myers gave them a slender 67-66 lead going into the final quarter.
Worcester got off to a superb start in the final quarter as six straight points from Masiulis gave them the spark and momentum which was needed.
Consecutive three-pointers from Owumi looked to have sealed the contest but a determined Cheshire refused to give in and reduced a seven-point deficit to just a single point with four minutes left on the clock.
But Irving then stole the show with a stunning passage of play which proved to be the difference between the two sides.
After racking up vital baskets the youngster produced the move of the night when he jumped high above a trio of Cheshire defenders to slam the ball home and give Worcester a crucial nine point advantage before the hosts closed the game out.
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