In a see-saw affair the North Adelaide Men’s Premier League team lost Saturday night’s Qualifying Final, to Forestville, in overtime 92-99. The Boys led early getting themselves up by 8 points, then fell behind by as many as 17 in the 3rd, before staging an amazing comeback, culminating in an 87-87 score line as the final whistle blew off the back of three successful free throws from Alex Starling with .3 seconds left on the clock.
As has been the case through most of the recent successful run, the Boys got themselves off to a good start leading early and showing a real desire for the contest. At the five minute mark it was 13-8, built off the back of minimal turnovers, but a couple of crucial ones allowed Forestville to wrest the momentum away and they took advantage to score some easy buckets and get the difference back to just 2 (26-24) at the first break. Jack led the way on the scoreboard with 10 points (couple of field goals and 6 successful free throws) aided by Darcy who started well with two long “3’s” and 3 rebounds. On a positive note, we had forced the Eagles into making 6 turnovers whilst we only had 2 and we had secured 5 offensive rebounds to just 1.
The 2nd quarter was disappointing, after having had such a good start. The 13-27 score line off the back of some average shot selection saw the Boys face a 12 point half time deficit. We allowed Forestville to take the lead immediately with the help of a couple of early turnovers and things just went downhill from there. There were long periods where the Boys just could not get a shot to drop (5 of 17 for the quarter) and they only got themselves to the line twice (making 1) after having made 8 of 8 opportunities in the 1st. At the break Coach Hawkes reiterated the game plan with most emphasis on the boards and getting the ball inside.
The 3rd certainly had some moments. With just two minutes gone, the Boys found themselves down by 17 (39-56), but some excellent defensive pressure from Ray, Darcy, BJ, Nick, Alex, Jack, Tobias and Adam saw them force some turnovers and claw their way back finishing the quarter with momentum at just 9 points down (64-73) and a glimmer of hope.
The last was very exciting and within the first five minutes it was 77-77 following a 13-4 run. Bijan got us up and running with a looooong 3 off a Jack McVeigh assist. Then Jack made two dunks in a row, from steals by Nick and Bijan and everything was going our way!! Another Bijan “3” saw us hit the lead with 4 minutes 30 seconds left. The lead changed five times in that short period as each team took their opportunities and traded baskets. We were in for a big finish and so it proved to be. Forestville got themselves three up (84-87) with just 12 seconds left and with a split second left on the clock Alex was fouled throwing up a desperation 3!! With the precision of a surgeon, he calmly sank all three leaving .3 of a second and no time for a Forestville response.
After the excitement of the finish to regulation time, the extra period proved to be a bit of a bust. The Boys had a couple of early turnovers allowing Forestville to score, which upped the pressure and saw us miss some “bread and butter” shots (2 of 10 for the five minutes). The lead extended to 10 quickly and unfortunately despite a late “3” from Jack the final score saw us down by 7 (92-99).
Final statistics make for interesting reading. The Boys had 24 MORE field goal attempts than Forestville (91 to 67) but managed to score just one more (35 to 34) of these opportunities. We had a season high 22 offensive rebounds (to Forestville’s 9), 51 overall rebounds to Forestville’s 42, 16 steals to 7 and made 13 of 14 free throws BUT just couldn’t score when it counted in overtime. 
Individually Jack led the way with 32 points, 8 rebounds, 5 assists, a steal and a blocked shot; Bijan had 18 points, 5 rebounds, 5 assists and 2 steals; Alex had 17 points, 7 rebounds, 2 assists, 5 steals and 2 blocked shots; Nick had 9 points, 9 rebounds, 3 assists and 4 steals.

So BIG, BIG elimination final this week at Hillcrest v Norwood who defeated an undermanned Southern. Having won one encounter each during the season and in a strange anomaly in both games the away team has come away with the win, so this should be interesting. Game time is 7:15pm. 
For the winner, a chance to play in the Preliminary Final, for the loser the season is over!! 
Come and help get the Boys over the line.


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