The opening game of NWBA Division One saw Brewers pitted against Ellesmere Port Panthers.
With eight games to decide the title every point counts and the Brewers went out strong behind some decent early three point shooting form Niel Gillard and Alex Jones coupled with their traditional tough defence.
The result was an opening 19-6 stretch that gave the Brewers a good foundation to build on.
The Panthers however have a few wily old heads and they quickly adjusted, countering in the second quarter with a 17-6 run of their own to close the gap by the half.
Brewers Head Coach Adam Lloyd called for more intensity as the Brewers defence held strong but their offence had slowed.
In the third they reacted – matching the Panthers blow for blow as both sides virtually cancelled each other out, the Panthers clawing back another point 12-11.
Luke Sharland-Wong vs Richard McNutt is one of the NWBA’s classic big man battles and so it proved, the pair of them locking horns and pulling out every trick they had to gain the edge over their rival.
So epic was their battle they each received the respective MVP nominations, Sharland-Wong after putting up 11 points for the game and countless rebounds.
The game was set for a barnstorming fourth quarter, with the Brewers clinging to a single point lead.
Both teams pushed hard to seize the advantage but neither could shake the other as they continued to nullify each other.
Towards the end however Josh McGinn – as he has done for many years – found a little heat and nailed some shots from another postcode to give the Panthers a slender four-point advantage with six seconds remaining.
It was time for the Brewers to draw up something special and in the time-out they did. On the floor the ball found Easaw George who put up a three and nailed it. But with two seconds to go the home side couldn’t stop the clock in time to give themselves a chance and after leading for three quarters the game agonisingly slipped through their fingers.
Afterwards Coach Lloyd was honest in his assessment of the game.”I can’t lie, I’m gutted,” he said. “I can’t fault our effort but losing by one is difficult to take.
“We did need to pick up the offensive pace in the middle section of the game and that is on us, but on the whole we went toe-to-toe against a team with a hell of a lot of high-level experience and we ran them damn close.
“At the end, we had to come up with something, it worked but the clock was against us, that’s basketball. If we’d been more clinical in the second or third, we wouldn’t be in that situation but we have another game next week, so we’ll run it back and do whatever it takes to ensure we are in the conversation with the league leaders come the end of the season.”