South Adelaide Panthers 97 | Eastern Mavericks 91
A spectacular 47 points from Eian Davis firmed his claims for the MVP title, helping South Adelaide to a rousing six point victory in what was a tight tussle all night.
In what could have been a fairly pedestrian match with both teams unable to make finals, the strong Marion crowd was treated to close contest and a Davis clinic.
Both Matthew Stock for the Mavs and Caleb Davis for South were hot from beyond the arc early, each nailing three long range efforts in the first term.
Little separated the sides, with a Davis to Davis behind the back pass enough to see South lead by three at first break.
A tense start met the beginning of the second with just four points in the opening three minutes.
Dylan Shorne was finding good space within the key, cutting well and finishing off some nice moves to keep things tight.
Eian Davis continued to cause headaches, driving into the arc on almost every Panther play. He was already racking up the points, with 17 in the first half to go with six assists- showing he was more than capable of executing the right pass and bringing his teammates into the game.
When Jarmal Reid landed a huge block and subsequent dunk it looked like South would retain the lead, but Lachlan Barker knocked down a three to a classy three to tie up the scores at 44 all at the half.
Devon McGee was really starting to execute for Eastern up the rim, blocking a number of shots and finishing off a nice reverse layup, shooting at over 80%.
The Mavericks would draw on a spread of players to stay in the match, with six players ending up in double figures.
However, it was just one man for South that proved decisive, with Davis pushing the game the Panthers way.
Drawing 11 fouls across the night, Davis was getting plenty of attention from Eastern, but little could be done to stop his effervescent attack- nudging the margin out to 11 at the final change, as South seized control.
Davis continued his clinic, proving particularly valuable from the line operating at over 92%.
The Mavericks weren’t giving up though, fighting to the very end and drawing with four points in the final minutes.
Zach Lovell was sharp from long range, whilst Michael Hundley used his size to gain an advantage within the paint.
As both teams got into the bonus, Eastern failed to make the most of their opportunities at the line, in a game that there for the taking.
South was able to do just enough when pushed, with the Mavericks unable to get a crucial stop to halt an inspired Davis lead side.
The only disappointment with Davis’ game was that he narrowly missed out on a 50 point game, finishing with 47 points and 10 assists in his most complete performance of the season.
His namesake, Caleb Davis, was also prominent ending with 17 points and six rebounds as South farewelled one of their loyalist contributors- with Thomas McKenzie retiring at the season’s end after more than 250 games in Panthers colours.
For the Mavs, Barker was best with 19 points and five boards, whilst Shorne (16 points and 9 rebounds) worked hard all night.
Both teams showed excellent signs, especially the Panthers who have grown immensely this season- narrowly missing the finals, after showing they can be competitive and realistically push for a spot next season.