BURY Blue Devils beat St Helens 73-63 in their latest outing in the Manchester Area Basketball League Premier Division.

Their opponents had won comfortably the last time the two sides met but the return of Vitoldas Balciunas, emergence of youngsters and the lockdown defence played by Bury led to a well-fought 10 point victory.

With a former Italian professional player on their roster, St Helens were favourites on paper but Bury had another script and it was Alex Plumb who opened the scoring for them with a three-pointer, followed by Omar Abbassy’s long-range effort.

Great communication and swarming defence held the usually high-scoring St Helens team to only 17 in the first quarter while Bury managed 15.

Stand-in coach Stu Jackson, recovering from injury, brought his experience to the table with great effect, rallying the troops and identifying smart plays to execute on offence.

Nick Metcalfe attacked the basket from the low post, using great footwork to create space for baskets inside with Balciunas also using his strength to hit the target and a basket by Metcalfe saw Bury trailing by three at half time.

Veteran Mike Nichols hit a three-pointer for Bury to tie the game and the emergence of Abbassy, who top scored with 24 points, on offence kept them in the game.

But it was the defence of Ste Graham that stifled the offensive threat that gave Bury hope.

They were moving the ball well on offence, while being vocal and smart on defence and with a quarter remaining, Bury led 52-51.

With only seven players available, fatigue was expected to take its toll.

And St Helens took the lead with a two-point basket before Nichols hit a three-pointer to grab the lead back for Bury.

However, a three by St Helens saw them take the lead.

Smart, patient basketball then propelled Bury into a lead that would never be relinquished to seal a good result against a team above them in the league.