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Basketball: Tigers turn up the Heat on champs! Midgley is the hero as Everton do the double.

Byline: By ANDREW TUFT

COACH Henry Mooney hailed hero Richard Midgley after Everton Tigers defeated British Basketball League champions Guildford Heat 95-90 in front of a record home crowd atGreenbank Academy.

The 24-year-old has proved a big hit since arriving from Newcastle Eagles in December and he produced a man-of-the-match performance with a personal haul of 25 points.

Mooney said: "Richard was outstanding.

He is a big player for us and has been a great signing.

"We played really well - we had a game plan and it paid off.

"That's twice we've beaten the champions this season so it shows what a good teamwe are.

"We've developed a strong mental edge and we needed it when they came back into it in the third quarter."

Nearly 600 supporters packed into Greenbank to see the Tigers consolidate their place in the play-offs.

The Tigers were without captain Chris Haslam, who underwent knee surgery last week, but they dominated the first two quarters.

Midgley, Calvin Davis and David Aliu ran rings around Heat in the opening 10 minutes to establish a 20-13 lead.

Guildford reduced the deficit in the second quarter to 37-36 but the Tigers upped their game and an unanswered run of four baskets saw the hosts go into the interval with a 46-36 lead.

In the third quarter the visitors clawed themselves back into the game and took the lead for the first time.

As the contest entered the final period Everton held a slim 71-68 lead and the scoring in the last 10 minutes was frenetic.

Dean Williams' three-pointer got Heat within two at 87-85with 70 seconds remaining but the Tigers held their nerve from the foul line for the win.

THE crowd for the Tigers' clash with Guildford was boosted by 95 members of the Irish Toffees.

The families from one of Ireland's biggest Everton supporters' clubs were over to watch the Premier League clash with Reading but also watched the Blues' other sports team in action.

Vice-chairman of the Irish Toffees Dermot Nealon said: "There wasn't much interest in the sport before but we've become interested in the Tigers through supporting Everton.

"The kids were really looking forward to the game and I think we'll definitely be back.

We'd even consider making this trip a more regular event. The standard is unbelievable."

See Junior Xsport for more Tigers news.

EVERTON TIGERS 95

GUILDFORD HEAT 90

CAPTION(S):

CLIMBING HIGH: Calvin Davis rises above the Guildford defence to slam dunk for the Tigers to go into the lead and (inset) coach Henry Mooney
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Liverpool Echo (Liverpool, England)
Date:Feb 12, 2008
Words:426
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