Manchester Magic 81, Team Northumbria 71

Ellis Cooper with fans

Manchester Magic enjoyed the long trip to face Team Northumbria, who were on a high following victory over second-placed Derby the week before.

A close first quarter saw a neck-and-neck matching of points ending with an 18-15 lead to Magic.

Further strengthening of the Northumbrian team matched Magic’s skills and an equally split scoreline saw the half end 38-35, again in the north west side’s favour.

A strong push in the third saw the three-point lead pushed to 13, and a switch of fortune in the last quarter, only held back by strong performances from Magic’s Ellis Cooper and Jack Minister, saw a final scoreline of 81-71 and another win for the Whalley Range side.

Magic remain on top with Derby Trailblazers also matching them with a win the night before.

However, with two points and a three-game advantage, it’s going to take some misfortune to take the title away from Magic with seven games remaining in the season.

Another weekend of away trips takes the team south on Saturday to strong contenders Hemel Storm, with mid-table Leicester Warriors on the Sunday.

Stats: Cooper 24pts, 18rebs, 2as, 2st; Minister 22pts, 4rebs, 6as, 1bl; Lohfink (Capt) 11pts, 6rebs; Alarcon-Lizaur 7pts, 2as, 2st; Gainsborough 6pts, 3rebs, 1bl; Garrido 5pts, 3as.