North Men Win Top of Table Clash With Forestville
In a cracking “top of the table” clash at Hillcrest Saturday night, the North Adelaide Men’s Premier League team defeated previously unbeaten Forestville 93-88, to take them to the bye round at a confidence building 5 wins and 1 loss. Alex Starling and Aric Miller proved again to be “big game” players, at both ends of the floor, leading the boys to an impressive result.
With Darcy and Alex back to full fitness, they joined Adam, Leroy and Aric in the first five, with clear instructions on the necessary strategy to win the game. But as has been the case several times this season already, the boys took a little while to get rolling. Forestville’s most dangerous player (Deng) scored an early basket, but Alex answered soon after with a layup on a Luke Mapunda assist. Adam was rebounding well with 3 early boards, Alex was involved in everything and Leroy was pushing the ball at every opportunity, but they found themselves five down early on a Rios 3 pointer (5-10). Also of concern was two fouls on Aric who was having problems adjusting to the refereeing. Things improved as the quarter continued with the Rockets outscoring Forestville 17-9 on the back of 7 points from Aric, 8 from Alex and a nice cameo from Josh Graetz who in just 1 minute 46 seconds, scored 4 points (2 of which was from a fantastic offensive tip in over Deng) and secured 2 rebounds. Quarter time score was 22-19. Fourteen fouls were called for the quarter, seven for each team, which it was thought may have an influence on the game in the latter stages.
An early 11-2 run to start the 2nd saw the score out to 33-21. Alex started it with a big 3 pointer, followed by Darcy with 2, Raj with two free throws (after an unsportsmanlike foul), then a nice jumper and Forestville were under pressure for probably the first time this season. The boys had found their run again and were looking to attack the rim at every opportunity. Alex dominated with 16 points for the quarter and 24 to half time!!! Aric was up to 10, and despite being down slightly on the boards, the boys were competing well, particularly at the offensive end where they had secured 10 (Forestville had just 4 offensive rebounds). The other big factor was turnovers, where we had just 6 and Forestville had been pressured into 15, giving us some excellent opportunities to score. Half time score was 51-47, and whilst by no means a safe lead, there were signs the boys had settled into the game well and were confident. There was one major concern though with Aric on 4 fouls and still a long way to go.
The 3rd, like the 2nd started with A North Adelaide run (13-4) and the boys were up by 13 at 64-51 and looking good. Darcy this time started it with a big 3 pointer with the shot clock expiring, then Adam with a 2, Alex with a dunk and a jump shot and Aric with a two and a couple of free throws. The lead hovered between 10 and 13 for most of the quarter until a couple of late free throws and a 3 pointer to Rios kept Forestville within touch at 8 (74-66). A good quarter by the boys leading the way 23-19, Aric had 9, Alex 7, Darcy 3, Adam 2 and Brad 2. The rebounds were now slightly in our favour at 30-29, 16 of which were offensive!! So plenty of second chances. Alex was up to 31 points, 6 rebounds an assist, a steal and a blocked shot as well as keeping Deng to just 22 points; Aric was on 16 points, 2 rebound, 3 assists and a couple of steals, and as a team we were shooting a respectable 44% from the field. Three quarter time score was 74-66.
So with an 8 point lead and 10 long minutes to go the 4th quarter started with the first five on the court, Aric, Alex, Darcy, Adam and Leroy, looking to bring us home. A layup to Alex and a 3 pointer from Aric in transition made the difference 13 and things were looking good. Another 3 to Aric and a layup to Alex, in between a couple of baskets by Forestville saw the lead balloon to 17 with six minutes to go!!! But given the team Forestville are, it was too early to celebrate with Garrett scoring the next 6 points and Deng getting 2 and suddenly the lead was just 9 again. The next couple of offences came to nothing and Garrett hit another 3 making the difference just 6 and there appeared to be a little doubt creeping in. Forestville were fouling now with less than two minutes to go to give themselves a chance and our foul shooting was making their task easier (just 5 of 16 for the quarter). Aric made 1 of 2, Garret sunk another long 3 and the difference was just 4 with 1 minute 40 seconds on the clock. Forestville had a turnover, fouled Aric again but this time he hit both and the difference was 6 with 43 seconds to go, then he steals the ball makes a layup and the difference is 8 and we are hoping that’s it!! But Deng hits a 3 with 29 seconds on the clock, difference 5 and Forestville again choose to foul Aric. One of two free throws made, and the difference is 6 with 27 seconds to go, then Forestville are forced into a turnover, foul Leroy (who makes 1 of 2), difference is 7 with 20 seconds to go, Rios gets a layup and the final margin is 5 at the buzzer. Relief all round. An exciting last quarter to say the least.
Final statistics show what a great game both Alex and Aric had in particular. Alex with 35 points, 9 rebounds, 2 assists, a steal and a blocked shot; Aric with 30 points, 7 rebounds, 3 assists and 5 steals; Darcy with 13 points, 4 rebounds, 1 assist and 4 steals; Brad with 8 points, 3 rebounds, an assist and a steal; Josh with 4 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists; Adam with 2 points, 5 rebounds, 2 steals and a blocked shot; Leroy with 1 point, 6 rebounds and 5 assists
Statistically the team did very well with just 10 turnovers to Forestville’s 25; 43 rebounds (21 offensive) to Forestville’s 43; and we shot at 40% from the field, but one area still to be worked on is foul shooting with just 20 of 37 at 54%.
Anyhow another win in an exciting game, now a week’s break (for Junior State Championships), before we travel to South on the 20th. Hope to see you there.
And a big thank you to Jeff Richardson for stepping in very late in the piece and taking the photos which you will notice are fantastic quality. Thank you Jeff, much appreciated. A lot more than normal because they are so good!!