Worcester Wolves boosted themselves up to fifth place in the British Basketball League after an 83-76 win over close rivals Cheshire Phoenix at the University of Worcester Arena on Friday.

A ding-dong contest was tied at 67-67 with six minutes left in the evening before Wolves broke clear after inspirational plays from their captain Maarten Bouwknecht and a spark off the bench from reserve guard Tola Okiki.

Cheshire took the opening eight points of the match before the hosts finally engaged gear when Elijah Burns produced a flying flush.

Henry Wilkins announced his arrival on court with a triple and hustling defence set up a Mike Parks lob as the first quarter buzzer sounded and gave Wolves their first lead at 18-16.

A 27-25 advantage was maintained at six minutes before half time after Bouwknecht stole the ball from Phoenix seven-footer Jimbo Lull and passed it on to Burns who slung it over his shoulder for Wilkins to connect from the corner.

Neither team could draw away from the other during a back-and-forth third quarter which ended 59-56 in favour of the visitors.

Parks profited from a Bouwknecht pass that sliced through traffic and Wilkins was the next player to receive a gift from the Dutchman drawing defenders and accordingly enabling room for a successful three-pointer.

As Jordan Williams drove to the hoop his former teammate Matthew Bryan-Amaning crumpled to the floor in front of him, attracting the displeasure of the match officials who promptly awarded a technical penalty for flopping.

Bouwknecht slotted in the consequential free throw and bounced forwards again to drain a shot from distance and create a 71-67 gap.

A perfect seven from seven made-foul shots were shared between Bouwknecht and Okiki to seal the home victory.

Bouwknecht led the scoring with 18 points as well as supplying ten assists and grabbing seven rebounds. Parks provided 16 points, Wilkins notched 12, and Burns and Lamarr Kimble tallied ten points apiece, with the latter also dishing up nine assists.

“There was lot on the line tonight as everyone moves towards the end of the regular season,” said Worcester coach Matt Newby.

“We benefited from a number of steals, moved the ball around well, as was shown by our twenty-six assists, and got the result we wanted.

“Maarten demonstrated that’s he’s a quality creator, exposing Cheshire defenders, and Tola came good at the end, negating the play of one of Cheshire’s dangers Mike McCall.”

Wolves are next in action this Sunday 11 April (2pm) at Surrey Scorchers.

“We can’t assume anything about Surrey,” added Newby. “We need to go into Sunday with a desire and hunger to get the win.”