Leicester Riders lose to Mersey Tigers in play-offs

Rob Paternostro
Paternostro's side put up a brave fight against the league's top team

Leicester Riders put up a brave fight before narrowly bowing out of the play-offs away at regular BBL season champions Mersey Tigers on Sunday.

Tigers held a three-point lead after Saturday's quarter-final first leg at the John Sandford Centre and won 92-90 to secure a 181-176 aggregate success.

But the hosts were made to fight all the way by a gutsy Riders side.

The visitors led by three points at 22-19 to level the overall scores at the end of the first period.

A James Whyte three edged Leicester ahead overall by one point early in the second quarter, but Mersey rallied and were soon ahead 41-33 before going into the break 46-44 up.

Tigers' biggest lead of the night came at 58-48 when Jamal Williams made a two. Riders responded with some excellent play, capped by another three from Whyte to make it 63-62 at the end of the third.

Whyte levelled the tie early in the final stanza but the visitors could not edge ahead and Tigers took control once more.

However, after going ahead 79-71, Mersey found themselves clinging on to a slender overall lead. Leicester took an 81-82 lead on a Jo Harris two and still led by one on a Whyte free throw at 87-88.

David Aliu calmed home fans' nerves with two from the line and James Jones made three of four to see the league champions home.

Nate Reinking led the Mersey scoring with 25 points while Frank Holmes top-scored for Riders with 25 points.

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