Who are We? Knox Basketball was established in the early 1970’s to provide youth from the City of Knox with a sporting and social infrastructure to develop and promote personal, team and social s ...
05:57PM, Mon 31 August 2009


The Knox Ford Raiders have secured the 2009 SEABL Championship after an emphatic 125-98 victory over the favoured South Conference Champion Frankston Blues on Saturday night in front of over 1,800 spectators at MSAC (Melbourne Sports & Aquatic Centre).

After finishing the regular season second in the East Conference with a 15-12 record, the Raiders hit their straps at the right time of the season, rolling over arch-rival Kilsyth in the Conference preliminary final two weeks ago, then travelling to Brisbane last weekend and defeating the heavily backed Spartans team in one of the greatest come from behind victories in club history to lock up the East Championship to then dominating the entire Championship game against the Blues as underdogs.

Coming into the highly anticipated contest, the Raiders knew they would have to contain Frankston’s big three of South Conference MVP David Gruber (17 points, 12 rebounds), Andrew Harms (15 points, 4 rebounds) and Rob Kampman (22 points, 10 rebounds), all of whom made the South All-SEABL team. All game long the Raiders did a superb job on forcing the big three into tough contested shots and gave their opposition very little chance of establishing any rhythm at the offensive end. 

With the defence holding up the way it had been designed by Coach Graham Longstaff, it was then up to the star power of American import duo CJ Massingale and Lester Strong combined with other starters Mick Hill, Cam Rigby and Sean Carroll to deliver on the offensive end.

Massingale who was named in the All-SEABL East team becomes Knox’s all-time leading import Championship winner with the victory was at his very best in the first half as he torched anyone the Blues threw at him in hope of containing one of the league’s best ever scorers. Massingale would pour in 25 first half points including 17 of his team’s 40 points in the second quarter which gave the Raiders a healthy 14 point lead at half-time.

Massingale was awarded the Hugh McMenamin Medal for Grand Final MVP, finishing the game with 30 points, 6 rebounds, 5 assists and 2 steals and holding the ever dangerous Harms to well below his average on defence.

Fellow import Strong had arguably his best game of his SEABL career as he got the better of his match-up with the talented Gruber all night. Strong stamped his authority on the game early, throwing down a massive alley-opp from former College and now Raider teammate Massingale which had the “Raider Nation” contingency on their feet. With the game for the taking in the third quarter, Strong came to forefront for the Raiders, scoring 13 points in the term, ripping down monster rebound after rebound and continuing to frustrate his direct opponent in Gruber. Strong finished the game with 25 points @ 78.6%, 10 rebounds, 2 assists and 5 blocked shots.

New recruit duo Hill and Rigby provided the Raiders with stability all throughout the finals and nothing was different against the Blues on the big stage. Hill recorded 14 points, 6 rebounds and 5 assists and contained the impact of Kampman. Rigby notched up 13 of his own points including 3 three-pointers to go with 4 rebounds as he played the supporting role to Strong’s dominance inside the paint.

Meanwhile, Captain Sean Carroll who like Massingale becomes one of the two players with the most Championships in Knox Ford Raiders history had a great night on the offensive end with 13 points@ 75%, 5 rebounds and 3 assists.

But it was the role that bench player John Philip served up that really had the “Raider Nation” up and about. Coming into the game many felt Philip could be the ‘X’ factor that the Raiders needed to guide them to victory and Philip was just that. The talented forward that can score from anywhere on the floor was the Raiders third top scorer with 19 points @ 77.8% including 4 from 4 from beyond the three point arc and pulled down 5 rebounds to go with his hard nosed defence Coach Longstaff has become accustom too over the last two months of the season.

The end margin was 27 with the Raiders winning quarters two, three and four convincingly after being tied at 30 a piece after the opening term. The team shot at 58.8% from the field and 52% from the three-point range for the match and outscored the Blues 60-40 for points in the paint.

Longstaff wins his first overall SEABL Championship since its inception last year after last week earning his third Conference title (1996, 2008, & 2009) as a Head Coach. Longstaff was also an assistant coach in the Raiders 2006 Conference Championship.

Earlier in the evening, the Raiders unfortunately couldn’t make it a double celebration as the Knox Ford Raiders SEABL Women were defeated by the Brisbane Lady Spartans 77-69 in their Grand Final.

The Raiders entered the contest favourites, particularly with Brisbane missing Australian Opal Emma Randall but it was the Lady Spartans who looked the goods early on as they raced to a 12 point lead by the end of the first quarter.

Entering the second term of play, the Raiders lifted their defensive intensity which was sorely lacking in the first ten minutes of action and kept their opponent to a much more respectable score of 14 points for the quarter but seven turnovers on offence cost the Raiders their chance of cutting the lead down to single figures by half-time, scoring just 12 points of their own and leaving themselves to dig out of a 14 point hole at the main break.

At half-time Coach Heath Anderson encouraged his team to remain positive and to lift in the second half. The Raiders responded and poured in 25 points in the third quarter, Sarah Graham and Caitlin Cunningham leading the way in the scoring department with 21 each for the game.

Despite the 25 points from the Raiders, the lead was only cut down by 2 as the Lady Spartans continued to shoot the ball exceptionally well, nailing 4 from 5 from beyond the three point arc in the third term.

With just a quarter left in the season, the Raiders were faced with mounting at least a 12 point turnaround and almost did the remarkable. The minor premiers Knox got it back within 2 points on two occasions inside the last three minutes but a crucial three-point play conversion by eventual game MVP Holly Smith (18 points, 8 rebounds) with just over a minute remaining put the dagger in the resilient Raider squad.

The Lady Spartans were eventual winners by 8, shooting 50% from the field and 53.8% from the three-point line. The Raiders shot 39.3% from the field and 30% from the three-point.
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