After what has been a long, long pre-season, the Premier League Men finally got the opportunity to get on court in a “real” game against South Adelaide on Saturday night, in Round 1 of 2018, coming out with a 106-88 point win in what was an excellent encounter, in front of a big crowd at Hillcrest.

Over the summer, there have been several changes to the North line-up, with lots of juniors making their presence felt, some new faces and of course plenty of others continuing on, so the contest has been hot to make it into the 10 who suited for this all important game, potentially setting the tone for the remainder of the season. In the end the Coaching staff went with a mix of youth and experience.

Those named were –

Alex Starling
Adam Schild
Atem Atem
CJ Reed
Brad Jonnek
Nick Marshall
Riley Slater
Gab Saldavia
Marko Miskovic
Matt Trandafil

The Boys were certainly ready to go and the first five was Adam, Alex, Atem, Brad and CJ, and they got us off to a good start. A missed “3” point shot saw an offensive rebound from Adam and his subsequent pass became an assist as Atem sunk the jumper from the foul line. Great start with just 20 seconds gone. Whilst both sides looked a little nervous at times, the Boys certainly were working hard. The next two missed shots again saw offensive rebounds taken and a Brad Jonnek “put-back” saw the lead out to 4. South settled a little, but some great ball movement and a hot start by CJ who hit a big “3” from the corner, Brad who racked up three offensive rebounds and hit a “3”, and Atem who hit his third jump shot in a row from the elbow, saw the score at 14-6. The lead moved to 10 (18-8) with Alex making a smooth layup through traffic and Coach Hawkes took the opportunity to call a time out, get Marko and Nick in and positively reinforce the effort we had seen. The changes made no difference to the momentum as Nick scored following a defensive rebound and a coast to coast move, then hit a big “3” which along with Alex getting more involved and Atem continuing his very positive start saw the difference at 18 (30-12). To their credit South were also working very hard and Eian Davis in particular was proving difficult to contain, but a Gab Saldavia jumper on the buzzer saw the first quarter score at 32-16 with 8 players having been involved significantly in the game for us. A fantastic indicator of good team play, in the first quarter was the fact we had 11 assists from 13 made baskets!!!! That must be some sort of record. At the break Atem led the way with 10 points and Alex had 7, with Brad leading the rebound count with 4 (3 offensive).

The 2nd started poorly with four fouls in the first minute to Alex, Adam, Brad and Gab so the momentum was taken out of our great start for a few minutes. The only scores were a couple of free throws, one each to Brad and Adam, before Alex made another nice layup and a 2 point jumper and the score was 38-18. Then the momentum changed as South started getting on top of the rebound count and with a subsequent 6-19 point run, suddenly the difference was just 7 (44-37)!! But to the Boys credit, a couple of BIG “3’s” from CJ, free throws from Adam and a jumper from Nick and the difference was 15 again (54-39) with a minute and a half on the clock. An “and 1” from CJ following a South score provided what looked to be a comfortable 16 point break at the main break, but South did hit a late “3” to make it 57-44 as the siren went. At the half, Alex had 15 points and 4 rebounds; CJ had 12 points and 4 rebounds; Atem had 10 points and 1 rebound; Brad had 8 points and 6 rebounds; Adam had 3 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists and a block; and Nick had 7 points, 1 rebound, 2 assists and a steal, so our “main” rotation were certainly heavily involved.

The 3rd was another good quarter for us with a 25-18 score-line and an overall three quarter time score of 82-62, but of more significance was the fact that there was a good scoring spread with 5 players in double figures (Nick 11, Brad 12, Atem 10, CJ 16 and Alex 25) and we were winning the boards 39-33. The quarter got off to a good start with two layups to CJ and one to Brad and the margin was 19 (63-44). It remained between 17 and 22 for the rest of the quarter, with Alex in particular having a significant impact on the scoreboard with 10 points. The only downside was the fact that Adam, Atem and Raj all picked up their 4th fouls which restricted their input somewhat, but it did have an upside, with young Matt Trandafil stepping in and contributing very positively with 3 big rebounds. Also of significance was young Marko Miskovic (who had played well so far), scoring his first points, having called the offensive play and finishing it with a nice fade away jumper for 2!!!!!

The last started with South hitting a “3” and obviously thinking to themselves that they were in with a chance if they could get themselves going, but an immediate “3” in response by Alex saw that momentum taken away quickly. South did have a couple of runs, but the experience of Alex, Brad, Adam, Atem and CJ in particular made sure that they were few and far between and there was never any real doubt about the outcome. Great to see young Riley Slater start for the last period and play more than 4 minutes. Whilst it would have been a blur to him, he contributed very positively with an excellent offensive rebound within seconds of him entering the game and some great efforts getting down the floor to ensure our offensive worked as planned. With the margin in the high teens, Coach Hawkes took the opportunity to have Riley, Marko, Gab and Matt get some invaluable experience on court and the benefit of that will be in weeks to come. Final score was 106-88 and a decent start to 2018.

Final statistics saw Alex have a big game with 38 points, 6 rebounds, 1 assist, 2 steals and 2 blocks; CJ had 18 points, 6 rebounds and 4 assists; Brad had 15 points, 9 rebounds, 2 assists and 2 steals; Nick had 13 points, 6 rebounds, 5 assists, 1 steal and 1 block; Atem had 10 points, 5 rebounds, 1 assist and a steal; Gab had 5 points, 1 rebound and an assist; Adam had 4 points, 8 rebounds, 4 assists and 2 blocks; Marko had 3 points, 2 rebounds and 3 assists; Matt had 3 rebounds and Riley had 1 offensive rebound. Overall we out rebounded South 52-46, we had 21 assists and just 12 turnovers.

So an excellent night overall, but a big test this week against Southern at Noarlunga. A long trek, but it should be an excellent game. Hopefully see you there.


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