CHARLES Smith strengthened his case for future entry into the Newcastle Eagles’ hall of fame after producing a swashbuckling 49-point performance in the 106-65 destruction of Durham Wildcats.
The forward is already a living Eagles legend and has produced some great performances, many of which have come in games of more magnitude than this run-of-the mill league clash; and yet from a statistical point of view, it rarely gets any better than this.
While time may have ebbed away in the game to leave him stranded like a batsman in cricket one short of a half-century, 49 in basketball terms certainly surpasses a double-century, sticking with the cricketing comparisons. It was also a tally which had everyone frantically flicking through the history books last night.
The veteran fired a stunning eight three-pointers and completed a double-double by amassing a fantastic 16 rebounds, providing an emphatic reminder to every BBL player with a future defensive assignment concerning Smith that age certainly isn’t slowing him down.
Although it was perhaps a shame that the 49-point haul of Smith overshadowed the similarly impressive feat of Joe Chapman, who accumulated a rare and outstanding triple-double of 18 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists.
Despite lining up without the considerable influence of Damon Huffman, the Eagles were like a runaway train during the early stages of the game, making a mockery of Wildcats’ recent red-hot form which had seen them win three of their last five games.
The visitors annihilated their shell-shocked hosts with a scorching and unstoppable offensive display during the opening 10 minutes, pouring in a mammoth 40 points. Durham, meanwhile, were stranded back on 13 points and bitterly regretting their catastrophic start which saw any chance of a shock win evaporate in double-quick time.
They did at least re-emerge for the second period with more vigour and determined to at least begin bridging the gap, something they did impressively well. Whether it was due to the improved play of Wildcats or merely the Eagles slacking off, it made a difference as the home side outscored their opponents by 25-14.
But, with Smith and Chapman sensational and well supported, normal service was resumed after the half-time break as the supporters who made the short trip to Newton Aycliffe were treated to more fun.
The Eagles scored twice as many points as Durham, 34-17 to be precise, and it was once again exhibition stuff from Flournoy and his players who regained outright leadership of the BBL table in real style.
Unfortunately the day was sullied slightly by Flournoy suffering a knock to the knee, although not half as much as the absolutely miserable spectre of losing Huffman for any serious length of time with his worrying hip injury.
Consequently it will be a nervous wait this week until medical specialists assess the damage.
Durham Wildcats: Page 12, Keister 11, Guinane 11.
Newcastle Eagles: Smith 49, Defoe 21, Chapman 18