Men's Premier League Report v Sturt

Men’s Premier League Team go Down to Sturt

Despite being down several important players, the North Adelaide Men’s team, played three very solid quarters, leading at every break, before going down to Sturt, when fatigue set in and they just couldn’t “buy a shot” in the fourth. The final score was 64-77, with the boys playing their hearts out, but they just couldn’t match it with the Sabres for the last 5 or 6 minutes of what was at times a very physical game.

The bad news started on Saturday morning for the boys with news that star import Alex Starling was ill and would not be able to take his place in the starting line-up. Along with the short term absences of Darcy Aistrope and John Wernham (both unavailable), there had to be some adjustments to the starting five and to the rotations throughout the game. However, it created an opportunity for others to step up, with the on-court debut of young Nick Marshall, extended playing time for Josh Graetz and the introduction of Matt Trandafil and Scott Parry to the bench.

Coach Hawkes started with Adam, Leroy, Brad, Aric, and Ray and the boys were full of running and got off to a “flyer” with everyone involved. Aric hit a big 3 and was fouled, making the extra shot for a lead of four points early. Leroy hit a jumper, Aric made three layups in a row following some aggressive defence by everyone, and suddenly the score was 12-4. A great tip-in by Ray saw a 10 point lead, but Sturt hit back (following an early time out) with a couple of baskets of their own on the back of a miss from us and a turnover to make the score 14-9. Josh entered the game with 3 minutes to go and had an immediate impact with an excellent offensive rebound. At the 1 minute 39 second mark, debutant Nick Marshall stepped onto the floor and showed why the Coaching staff have a lot of faith in him when he secured two strong offensive rebounds giving us a couple of second chances. Even more impressive considering Nick broke his nose Thursday night at training, but he was determined to take his place in the team!!!!!  The quarter time score was 23-19 and everyone was playing their part. Aric in particular had a cracker with 15 opening quarter points, proving unstoppable at the offensive end. On the team statistics, we were shooting the ball at some 43%, but Sturt were winning the boards 13-9 which was the focus of Coach Hawkes’ quarter time address.

The second was a more see-saw affair, with both teams having periods where they played well. An early steal by Ray and a nice assist created a layup for Aric seeing the lead at 6 before Josh got involved again securing a strong offensive rebound, being fouled and scoring on one of his free throws, taking the score to  26-19 with things again looking good. But a couple of Sturt’s better shooters were getting themselves into the game with some long range bombs despite an emphasis on our defensive effort. Aric continued with his incredible start with 29 points, along with a couple of steals and 2 rebounds by the half; Leroy had 9 with 2 rebounds, 2 assists and a blocked shot; Ray had 5 points, 2 rebounds, 2 steals and an assist; Adam and Josh had 3 rebounds each. So the half time score was 44-39 and the atmosphere was very positive.

The 3rd started with three 3 point shots taken and missed, then a long 2 missed, and it was something of a pre-cursor to the struggles of the second half. Early shots were taken, creating transition opportunities for Sturt who quickly took the lead. They held the advantage for some three minutes until Nick hit a big 3 pointer from the corner giving us an edge by just 1 point. The boys did fight for every possession, literally getting down on the floor several times, stayed together and made every effort to maintain the momentum they had built up. Sturt looked to slow Aric’s momentum which saw him go to the free throw line regularly and he scored 5 of 6 from there, finishing with 36 points by the three quarter time break and we maintained a lead of 3 (59-56).

Unfortunately the last quarter was a struggle. Overall shooting was 2 of 20 from the field (both of these were in the last minute and ten seconds) and it wasn’t always due to Sturt’s pressure. Some of the boys were tiring, and despite some substitutions made, and the desperation obvious, the momentum was swinging Sturt’s way. They fed off that, hit some big shots themselves and before we knew it we were 10 down and struggling to get back into it. Final score was 64-77 in a disappointing finish. Aric had a big night offensively, finishing with 36 points, 4 rebounds, 1 assist and 2 steals; Leroy had 9 points, 8 rebounds, 5 assists and a block in an excellent all round game; Ray had 5 points, 4 rebounds (3 offensive), 1 assist and 2 steals, running the team comfortably from the point; Josh had an impact on the game with 5 points, 5 rebounds, and a steal; Brad worked hard for his 5 points, 3 rebounds and a steal; Adam was a workhorse against several opponents finishing with 8 rebounds, an assist, a steal and a block. A special mention for Nick, in his first ever game. He came on several times and made a difference, scrapped for boards (finished with 4 offensive rebounds) and scored 4 points. An excellent start and a sign of things to come.

The shot statistics told the story unfortunately. In the first half we scored on 17 of 41 shots, but in the second this fell away to just 6 of 36 to finish at just 30% overall, but given the personnel changes, we continue to be very positive about the season.  The next couple of games will hopefully give us the opportunity to get ourselves back on track, continue to assess our depth, get some minutes into the legs and grab the momentum back.

Eastern at Hillcrest on ANZAC Day, followed by Centrals at Starplex next Saturday, hope to see you there!!      


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