The loss of leading scorer and rebounder Luke Mapunda, and the experienced Brett Collins proved too big a hurdle for the North Premier League Men to overcome on Sunday, in their game against a Southern team that realistically contained 4 NBL quality players. The boys struggled from the get go, quickly falling behind and never able to make up the difference, as the Southern Team showed they will be the team to beat for this year’s title. Final score was 48-92. 

Coach Hawkes started with Cody, John, Tom, Adam and Pikey, but despite early promise relentless pressure from Southern saw the difference in scores grow quickly. The North boys were struggling to get into any sort of consistent offence and when they did get an opportunity, they just could not put the ball in the basket. Turnovers were mounting (8 for the quarter to Southern’s 3), and it was becoming obvious that anything less than full commitment to rebounding the ball would be punished by the fast running team from Noarlunga. The “knowns” of Creek, Johns and Starling were particularly damaging, whilst John Wernham was working hard at both ends for the Rockets. Quarter time score was 10-27 and things were not looking good. 

Coach Hawkes was calm in the break, looking for ways to get the boys going offensively, but there were no easy baskets to be had, and anytime Southern had the ball it demanded full attention from everyone on defence. Having said that the boys did hold their own for the last 5 minutes of the second quarter (outscored 6-8), but the damage had been done and the deficit was 27 at half time. Pikey continued his good recent form with 9 points, 3 rebounds and a steal to the main break, whilst John Wernham was proving his worth to the team with 8 points, 2 rebounds and a steal. Overall shooting was very poor, with 31% from the field (11/36) and 0 of 12 from the 3 point line. Turnovers had improved however with only 1 for the quarter, but the rebound gap was growing (16-22). 

The 3rd quarter proved the most difficult of all. We scored just 9 points (season low) on the basis of some very poor shooting (4 of 19 for the quarter), and Southern managed to score 25. One positive sign was that the boys were working very hard on the boards, managing to get the deficit back to just 6 (27-33), so effort could not be questioned. Creek and Starling continued to prove to be very, very difficult to match up on and controlled the game at their pace, playing “above the rim” on many occasions, but they were bringing their other players into the game (Creek had 7 assists to three quarter time). 

The last was a continuation of what had happened so far, despite many changes to strategies and personnel. Coach Hawkes did take the opportunity to “clear the bench”, giving Kane Della Pia, Josh Graetz, Jono Lloyd and Cam Simmons some very valuable, extended court time, which will augur well for the future. They did very well in the circumstances contributing in several different ways. Kane scored 4 points on some excellent outside shooting (had 2 rebounds) and showed confidence in his ability to take the open shot, Josh ended up with 4 rebounds and a steal against some tough opposition, Jono had an assist and an offensive rebound, whilst Cam ended up with 7 points and 2 rebounds.

Not a great night for the boys, but given the loss of Leroy and Brett combined with the obvious ability of the Southern team, somewhat understandable. Time to move on and look forward to the next two weeks with three very important games to come. Norwood (at Mars) Saturday, Forestville (Hillcrest) Friday the 22nd and then Centrals (Hillcrest) on Anzac Day. See you there !!!!!!!! 


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