Bury Blue Devils progressed into the semi-final of the Manchester Amateur Basketball League Cup after a narrow 69-61 quarter-final victory over local rivals Bolton.
Although Bury beat Bolton by 16 points in the league a couple of weeks ago, coach Mike Nichols knew the hosts would be looking for a closer game at Bolton College with a full squad to pick from.
It was Bolton who showed some early form, taking a 5-0 lead until Ergoli Togo, Chris Stainton and Charlie Cuthbert hit the target.
However, it was Bolton who finished the quarter the stronger side with a 14-11 lead.
Bury suddenly found themselves 10 down as their defence allowed easy baskets and turnovers offensively saw the game tilt in Bolton’s favour.
However, the Stainton brothers – Phil and Chris – found a higher gear to help Bury to a 34-29 point lead.
With Bart Szareko and Nichols hitting the target, Bury were helped by a four point play by Chris Stainton to lead 34-33 at the half-time break. Both teams traded baskets, with neither one able to push ahead before Cuthbert hit consecutive threes for Bury.
Jay Knowles made some great assists and Conor Wilkinson also blocked a shot as the visitors began to take control.
Bolton persisted with some outstanding play of their own to trail Bury by one basket with a quarter to go.
Bury switched up the defence, putting the taller Togo on Bolton’s danger man and restricting his effectiveness.
With Bury leading 65-61 with a minute and a half left in the match, it was still anyone’s game.
Bolton missed a basket, while Bury remained calm as Cuthbert and Nichols added the extra baskets to give the visitors a 69-61 point win. The Devils will now play a semi-final match against a premier league team.
Coach Nichols said: “This wasn’t a pretty game to watch. “We were lacking the kind of form I know we are capable of, but we stepped up when we had to.
“Credit to Togo for limiting their threat and the team for staying positive throughout tough patches. “It was a scrappy win but we’ll take it!”