West Adelaide Bearcats 77 | Sturt Sabres 68
The West Adelaide Bearcats have triumphed in an intense Elimination Final matchup against the Sturt Sabres, scoring a narrow nine-point victory in Port Adelaide.
The hosts headed into this match as favourites, but required an inspirational effort from Darrius Oldham to get across the line.
The import racked up 32 points and 10 boards as West were pushed to the very edge by the Sabres, who at one stage led with just 4:00 left.
Oldham initiated proceedings with an early jumper, but it was Samuel Daly (27 points, 10 rebounds, 6 assists) who stole the limelight early. The guard had the hostile crowd mesmerised – and concerned – with a series of delightful layups.
A late triple to Hamish Burns had the visitors up by three at the first break, as nerves seemed to be getting the better of multiple Bearcats.
Sturt continued to hold their slender lead, before the match went without a field goal for over four minutes, increasing tension around the stadium tenfold.
Of course, it was none other than Oldham who snapped the drought, as the Bearcats rocketed into a 35-30 half-time lead on the back of a crucial 10-0 run.
Jack Turnbull made his presence felt for the visitors early in the third, hitting a three before attacking the basket for an and-1.
The Sabres had the lead soon after, before a huge response from Jordan West (3 blocks in Q3) and Tom Kubank saw favour return to West Adelaide, who threatened to extend their advantage before Daly stepped in.
The Sabres star pulled off two and-1’s within thirty seconds to drag this affair back into Sturt’s reach, who ended the championship quarter down by two.
West Adelaide’s Oldham knew exactly what was at stake in the last,
“Going into the fourth quarter, we knew (it was) 10 minutes. We knew this was the time.
“We just had to pull together and make it happen.”
Claybrin McMath (19 points, 11 rebounds) and Harold Ridgeway played their hearts out for their respective sides in the last term, finding plenty of scores to keep their teams in this vital sudden-death clash.
The battle continued, but when Samuel Daly converted the free-throw from a tip in foul, Sturt took the smallest of leads with just 5:00 remaining.
That was the closest the Sabres got.
With half-an-eye on that illustrious last import position on the 36ers roster, Oldham scored quick-fire baskets to open up a margin of eight points with under two minutes remaining.
From there, the visitors lost McMath to foul trouble and were only able to add two more points to their total, as West Adelaide saw out the final seconds to secure an invaluable victory.
The win sets up an absolutely brutal contest between the Bearcats and Flames next weekend, and the man of the match seemed quietly confident ahead of the fixture.
“Norwood’s a physical team. They’ve beaten us twice. It’ll be good, we’re going to line up, and everything else will be decided between the lines.”
Photo: AllStar Photos