ROUND 4 REVIEW
Red Dust Heelers have raced into contention for the top four with three victories in Round 4 while the Wollongong Rollerhawks have gained some separation at the top of the ladder with three wins as well.
The Heelers had played the least amount of games coming into this weekend and had not hit the court since Round 1 but they let their intentions be known on Friday night with a 76-72 upset over Wollongong.
Trailing by three points at the last change, Red Dust then surrendered the first six points of the fourth period as the Rollerhawks looked like they were in control.
Brad Ness (16 points, seven rebounds) led the fightback though, scoring 14 of the Heelers’ 20 points in the fourth quarter as Red Dust ran over the top over the ladder-leaders.
In his debut for the club, Paralympic gold medalist Josh Turek also starred with a triple-double of 30 points, 17 rebounds and 11 assists while also scoring the other six points in the final term.
The teams met again on Saturday night and Wollongong jumped out an early double-digit lead before Red Dust reeled them in, moving in front by four points with four minutes left in a copy of their first clash.
This time though, the Rollerhawks found a response through Brett Stibners (19 points, five assists) who helped his side finish the game on a 14-2 run and secure a seven-point victory.
Michael Auprince (12 points, ten rebounds) and Nick Taylor (12 points, ten assists) added double-doubles each, countering two more big games from Turek (37 points, eight boards, five assists) and Ness (13 points, 16 rebounds).
In their other mini-series for the weekend, the Heelers defeated Sydney Metro Blues by an average of 20.5 points over two games with Turek adding another 32 points, 11 rebounds, seven assists and 3.5 steals.
Ness tallied 13.5 points, coming off the bench in their fourth game of the round, Jannik Blair contributed 11.5 points and Jake Kavanagh collected 5.5 points, three assists and a steal per game against the Blues.
Sydney Metro wAS unable to get a win on the board in Round 4, dropping two more games to the Be Active Perth Wheelcats but Anderson Parker stepped up, scoring 30 points in their first meeting.
CJ McCarthy-Grogan did all he could across their four games, tallying two triple-doubles against the Wheelcats including a 29-point, 22-rebound and ten-assist performance to finish with an average of 27.8 points, 15.5 boards, 8.3 assists and 3.5 steals per contest.
Shaun Norris was able to match McCarthy-Grogan with consecutive triple-doubles of his own to average 35.5 points, 13 boards, 12 assists and two steals while Kim Robins scored 19.5 points and Thomas McHugh added 17.5 points.
While that helped the Wheelcats claim two wins, they were unable to keep the streak going against Wollongong, falling by 28 and 31 points over two games.
Auprince dominated the paint with 36 points and 19 rebounds in their first meeting, following up with 18 points and 18 boards the following day while Shawn Russell had 21 points, 14 rebounds and eight assists in the second game and Stibners averaged 23 points and 11.5 assists.
Wollongong now have an 11-point lead on the ladder over their closest rival but have played the most games out of any club.
The Wheelcats sit second but have played three more games than the third placed Kilsyth Cobras and four more games than fourth-placed Queensland Spinning Bullets which will make the task of holding them off very difficult.
Likewise, Sydney Metro have moved into fifth place but with only five games remaining in their regular season, a chance at the top four is slipping from their grasp.
Adelaide Thunder face a season-defining June as they aim to get off the bottom of the ladder but they can take inspiration from Red Dust who are right in the hunt with a 4-4 record which has placed them just three games outside the top four.
Find all the results, stats and the ladder for the season so far here.