2016 FINALS REVIEW
The Kilsyth Cobras are back-to-back Champions in the NWBL, capping off an impressive regular season with a sweep of the finals that ended in an 80-54 thrashing of Perth in the gold medal game.
Kilsyth were never troubled in the Grand Final, not losing a quarter as Tristan Knowles recorded a second straight triple-double of 28 points, 14 rebounds and 16 assists.
Shawn Russell (12 points, ten rebounds) and Josh Allison (14 and 7) also hit the scoreboard to help nullify the performances of Shaun Norris (22 points, three steals) and Amber Merritt (14 points, nine boards).
It was a completely different story in the Semi-Final on Friday night when the Cobras escaped the Wheelcats with a one-point victory.
Trailing by 16 points in the fourth period, Norris (30 points, eight rebounds, ten assists) led the comeback as he scored 12 points in the space of just over three minutes.
That helped trim the margin to just two points before Kayl Jeffrey put Perth ahead with under a minute remaining.
A turnover in the dying seconds proved costly though as Russell (16 points) punished the Wheelcats with a made basket to regain the lead for Kilsyth.
While Norris had a final attempt on the buzzer, his shot was wayward as the Cobras recorded a thrilling win thanks to a triple-double from Knowles (19 points, 14 rebounds, 16 assists).
Perth’s top-two finish at the end of the regular season ensured a double-chance and pitted them against Wollongong after they took care of Red Dust in the other Semi-Final, 89-68.
The Roller Hawks held a solid six-point advantage going into the final break but dominated the fourth period 26-11 to run out comfortable winners.
Brett Stibners was close to unstoppable in the clash, recording 42 points on 19-26 shooting to go with eight boards and eight assists while Nick Taylor’s 18 points helped answer Brad Ness’ 17 points and six assists.
In the Preliminary Final, with a spot in the Grand Final on the line, Perth controlled proceedings against the Roller Hawks from the outset with their lead ballooning to double-digits in the second quarter.
Wollongong slowly pulled themselves back into the contest though before Luke Pople put them ahead inside the final six minutes.
From there, Merritt (13 points, nine rebounds) and Kim Robins (21 points) combined for 11 points to take back control for Perth.
However, when Norris (40 points, ten rebounds, ten assists) missed a free throw with nine seconds remaining, the door was left ajar for Stibners (19 points, 13 assists) who could not hit the three-pointer and send the game into overtime, seeing Wollongong fall 77-80.
The Roller Hawks were able to bounce back the following day, taking care of Red Dust 66-55 in the bronze medal game.
The game was tied at three-quarter time but a superb defensive effort mixed with 11 points from Stibners (who out-scored Red Dust in the final period) saw Wollongong improve on their 2015 efforts.
Stibners (22 points, eight rebounds, five assists) led four starters in double-figure scoring including Taylor (15 points, nine assists) while the Heelers were paced by a double-double of 14 points and ten boards from Ness and 17 combined points off the bench from Ryan Morich and Rob Pike.
Stay tuned to the NWBL website for a recap of all the end of season award winners.