BURY Blue Devils moved into the play-off spots in the Manchester Area Basketball League Premier Division after beating Free City 81-79.

Hosts Bury began with defensive determination and an offensive mindset with Omar Abassey, Alex Plumb and Vitoldas Balciunas setting the pace with well-earned baskets.

Two three-pointers for Free City did not stop Bury’s force as Abassey hit consecutive threes of his own.

Bury’s defensive unit made it difficult for the visitors, helping them to a 27- 5 lead after the first quarter.

The second quarter started well with Callum Brady hitting a three-pointer from the corner and with steady passing from Darren Butterworth and Leon Francotte, Bury were making the opportunities but just could not convert them.

That gave Free City some confidence as they attacked and went on a 14-2 run to get back into the game.

Some tactical substitutions saw Bury gain back control to take a 44-35 lead into half time.

Free City came out in the second half a changed team, attacking the basket with ferocious abandon and took a 50-49 lead on a three-point shot.

Again, some tactical changes swung the momentum back in Bury’s favour led, by Chris Stainton closing out the quarter on a 13-4 run.

Leading by only eight points, Bury were well aware of the pressure Free City were going to put on and quickly scored six points to extend their lead to 14 points with eight minutes remaining.

But Free City were not done and slowly pulled the deficit back.

Leading by eight with only two minutes remaining, Bury made a couple of mistakes that gave the visitors hope they capitalised on and with less than a minute remaining, they reduced the deficit to only one point.

With about 15 seconds remaining, it was anyone’s game but it was Bury who stepped up – Abassey drove the lane and made a great pass to Mike Nichols who hit a tough fade-away shot with four seconds left to give them the victory.