Semi-Finals report written by Bruce Martin
Photo Courtesy Graeme Campbell
Lincoln University held off a strong fightback from the Ethan Rusbatch led Checkers in the closing minutes to win Thursday night’s Mens Premier Basketball semi-final encounter, 69-63 at Cowles Stadium.
LU will now meet Hoben trophy winner Pioneer Pacers in Saturday’s Grand final at 7pm. A very first championship title awaits the winner.
Buoyed by the appearance of Tall-Black Rusbatch, Checkers had Lincoln on the back foot with Checkers taking a 19-16 first-quarter lead. After trailing 30-35 at half-time Lincoln used their dominance on the boards to run the ball at speed against the tiring Checkers. Lincoln took over either side of the third quarter break stretching the lead to 62-48 but Checkers, championship winners in 2011/12 and 2014, lifted its game for a final challenge with Rusbatch (23, 14R) and veteran Nat Connell (19, 9R) leading the charge.
Lincoln University held its nerve with Ben Bowie accumulating an incredible 16 points and 30 rebounds, 20 on defence with the Williams brothers, Josiah scoring 16, and Ben 19 points. James Cawthorn played a key role in setting up the LU’s moves, especially the call to go into a zone at the start of the third quarter, and had 14 points, eight rebounds and four assists while being closely guarded. LU made better use of its chances scoring 19-9 second chance points and led the rebounding 66-54.
Lincoln now have four teams in action of Grand finals day, LU Women’s Premier which plays North Canterbury at 5.20pm. The LU Bulls, undefeated for the last three seasons and beat Wolverines 97-81 last Wednesday, plays University of Canterbury 10.40am while the LU WU23 team plays Halswell at 12.20pm
Men’s Premier Semi-Final: Lincoln University 69 (Ben Williams 19; Ben Bowie 16, 30R; Josiah Williams 16; James Cawthorn 14, 8R) Checkers 63 (Ethan Rusbatch 23, 14R; Nat Connell 19, 9R). HT: Checkers 35-30.
Saturday’s Grand final: Lincoln University v Pioneer Pacers 7.00pm.
Mens Under 23 Semi-Final: Lincoln University Bulls 97 (Ben Williams 23; James Cawthorn 21, 8R, 7A; Ben Bowie 21, 12R; Josiah Williams 12; Stu Erskine 10, 11R) Wolverines 81 (Taylor Britt 26, 5A; Jahnim Campbell 19; Amosa Faituma-Nanai 16; Carl Isitt 13, 13R). HT: 46-36.
Saturday’s Grand final: Lincoln University Bulls v University Canterbury A. 10.40am.
Womens Under23 Semi-Final: Lincoln University 72 (Lucy Elizabeth Brown 26; Bianca Malifa 18; Sophie Schrader 12) Wolves-Royals 56 (Letitia Mullaly 34; Lauren McNicol 10). HT: Wolves 33-32.
Saturday’s Grand final: Lincoln University v Halswell. 12.20pm.