ROUND 7 REVIEW
Three teams have further solidified their place in the top four with the Kilsyth Cobras, Wollongong Rollerhawks and Queensland Spinning Bullets all sweeping their way through Round 7.
The Cobras claimed three victories over the Sydney Metro Blues by an average margin of 23 points, giving their entire roster some important minutes on court while at least seven players hit the scoreboard in each contest.
Tristan Knowles paced them with 29.3 points, six rebounds, 6.3 assists, and 1.3 steals per game, Shaun Groenewegen added 12.3 points and 7.7 assists while notching five blocks in the second meeting, Jontee Brown recorded a double-double in the third meeting with 13 points, ten rebounds and five assists while Michael D’Amelio got Kilsyth off to a great start on Friday night with 12 points in 23 minutes.
Josh Allison also impressed off the bench with 7.7 points per game and David King scored nine points on Sunday and the confidence those role players have gained from the weekend will put them in good stead for the playoffs.
Sydney Metro will have been buoyed by a monster weekend from CJ McCarthy-Grogan, who almost had a quadruple-double on Saturday night with 25 points, 17 boards, 11 assists and eight steals to finish with an average of 23 points, 15 rebounds, 7.7 assists and 4.3 steals.
Anderson Parker notched double-digits in each of the three games to record 12.7 points per game and Josh Meoli averaged 11.3 points but the Blues are now officially out of playoff contention.
Wollongong have remained on top of the ladder following two big wins over the Adelaide Thunder, cracking the century mark in the first meeting and prevailing by 55 points the next day.
Brett Stibners controlled the game at the offensive end, averaging 36.5 points, seven rebounds and 9.5 assists and on Saturday night, his 43 points (including 3-6 three-point shooting) and 12 assists contributed 67 points out of the Rollerhawks total compared to Adelaide’s 35 points as a team.
Michael Auprince was also dominant on the glass, averaging a double-double of 23 points and 10 rebounds and he helped his side own the paint as the Thunder struggled to contain the home side.
Shawn Russell had a double-double off the bench in their first clash before role players Brad Fisher (14 points), Luke Pople (eight points, ten boards) and Nick Taylor (ten points) helped to answer the best of what Adelaide threw at them via Adam Roocke (13 points, nine rebounds per game) and Luke Watkins (12 points, five assists per game).
In the final series of the weekend, Queensland got the better of the Red Dust Heelers on the road in two meetings to make a statement against the most in-form team of the competition.
On Saturday night, the Heelers owned a one-point lead at three-quarter time and moved ahead by six almost halfway through the final term.
They were still ahead by four points with three minutes remaining but the Spinning Bullets finished the game on a 9-0 run to claim victory as Tom O’Neill-Thorne (22 points, 14 rebounds, five steals) scored seven points (five from the free-throw line) and Steven Elliott (six points) hit an important bucket down the stretch in a 79-74 win.
The inclusion of Bill Latham this weekend proved to be the difference though as the two-time Paralympian collected 30 points, 15 rebounds, four assists and five steals to answer Josh Turek’s triple-double (26 points, ten rebounds, 13 assists) and Brad Ness’ 22 points and 11 boards.
The following day, Queensland started well with a seven-point edge at quarter-time but Red Dust reeled them in to tie the game at the main break.
Just when it looked like another game would go down to the wire though, the Spinning Bullets came out with a 26-8 third period to blow the game wide open and succeed 82-66.
Rob Pike had 15 points off the bench for the Heelers, complementing Turek’s 32 points and nine assists but Queensland’s spread of scorers was on full display as O’Neill-Thorne (29 points, ten assists) paced Latham (17 points, 15 rebounds, eight assists), Kurt Thomson (ten points) as well as Elliott and Matt McShane who scored six apiece.
At the conclusion of Round 6, only five teams remain in the race for the playoffs with Wollongong and Queensland continuing to fight for first and second spot.
Red Dust may still be in the best position as they have played the least amount of games and could still overtake Kilsyth for third place, especially with a triple-header against the bottom-placed Thunder to come in the last round.
Victories in their last two games may still not be enough for Perth to stave off the Heelers but they must succeed in those two clashes with Kilsyth to have any chance of reaching the playoffs.
Find all the results, stats and the ladder for the season so far here.