ROUND 4 REVIEW
Photo via Kilsyth Basketball.
The Wollongong Rollerhawks, Kilsyth Cobras and Be Active Perth Wheelcats have flexed their muscles in Round 4, winning every game of the round to now claim the top three spots on the ladder.
Wollongong proved too good for the Queensland Spinning Bullets, succeeding in every quarter across their three clashes to win by an average of 31 points.
Four of their starters scored in double-figures each game, led by Brett Stibners (27 points, 9.7 rebounds and 10.7 assists) who had a triple-double in the third meeting.
Luke Pople also had a triple-double in the first clash before finishing with 17.7 points, 9.7 rebounds and 8.3 assists, Nick Taylor added 14 points and 11.7 dimes, Michael Auprince (23 points, 12.7 rebounds) controlled the paint while Tim Markcrow, Hannah Dodd and Nicholas Scott played important minutes as well.
The Spinners were paced by Tom O’Neill-Thorne (25.3 points, 12 boards, 5.3 assists), who was coming off captaining the Under-23 Aussies to a bronze medal at the World Championships while national team mate Jake Fulwood was also strong with 6.7 points per game.
Kilsyth were just as successful against the Adelaide Thunder, keeping them winless while moving into second place on the ladder.
Having played three less games than the Rollerhawks, they now sit only nine points back of top spot as they aim for a three-peat in 2017.
Tristan Knowles (22 points, 6.7 rebounds and 12.3 assists) was as impressive as ever while Shawn Russell (12.3 points) and Michael D’Amelio (11.3 points) kept the scoreboard ticking over.
However, their depth off the bench was the most damaging aspect of the games, finishing with a +56 edge from their second unit with Daniel Del Toso, Brian Carminati, Phil Turner and even Rollers gold medallist Dylan Alcott all contributing.
Slow starts again proved the Achilles heel of Adelaide while points off turnovers also hurt them but Adam Roocke (11.3 points, 7.7 rebounds) and Beau Buckley (10.3 points) did their best to match Kilsyth on the scoreboard while Phillip Stephens showed promising signs.
In the final match-up for Round 4, the Wheelcats replaced the Red Dust Heelers in the top four with three victories, two of which came on the road.
While the Heelers stayed in touch through the first quarter of all three contests, the second term proved the difference for Perth.
They extended a five-point lead to 15 in the first game, doubled their opponents total in the second quarter of the second game and pushed a five-point edge into double-digits in the third meeting.
Shaun Norris was at his destructive best at both ends of the floor, combining 5.3 steals (compared to Red Dust’s team average of 5.7 per game) with 26 points, 10.3 rebounds and 12 assists.
Kim Robins (15 points, 11.3 rebounds) also proved a handful offensively while in the third clash on Sunday, Andrew Dewberry and Thomas McHugh joined him in double-figures with a combined 26 points.
Red Dust struggled to get their offence clicking, shooting just 31% as a team but Ryan Morich averaged 14.3 points while Adam Deans held his own in the paint with 8.7 points and 10.3 rebounds.
Heading into Round 5 this weekend, Kilsyth will host the Bullets in a critical round for Queensland’s top four hopes while Adelaide will need to upset the ladder leading Rollerhawks to get on the winners list.
Sydney Metro Blues will come off the bye to take on Red Dust as well with both teams having the chance to overtake Perth in third place.