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SEABL Round 16 Wrap Up

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You may have noticed a distinct lack of SEABL contributions to this blog in the last few weeks. Or you may be sitting there saying “Oh, has the column not been up for a while? I didn’t notice.” In which case, thanks for nothing. But seriously, I have been on hiatus taking road trips around the USA, which for those of you who follow me on social media will know as #BethAndMaliksExcellentAdventure.

I am back, and have sufficiently recovered and caught up with what’s going on the SEABL (import injuries, replacements, coaches getting fired, players getting fired, Albury winning 2 in a row – it all happened while I was gone!) ready to bring you the latest from Round 16 – which was the official charity round for the Still I Rise Foundation. Being a director of the Foundation, I managed to get out to three games over the weekend as a representative, so it’s a good week to pick up the pen again! Er, or laptop.

Starting off on Friday night, I headed down to my old stomping ground in Geelong, to see the top of the table clash between the East Conference Supercats and the South Conference Mt Gambier Pioneers. In the weeks that I’ve been absent, Supercats import Mike Mercer suffered a season ending (and career ending, as he has chosen to retire) injury, and Geelong were quick to fly in a replacement in the form of Anthony White Jnr. Unfortunately for the Supercats, the disruption seems to have thrown their team balance into a bit of turmoil, having won just two matches out of five going into Round 16 since the introduction of White. Missing Ash Cannan (injury) and Nick Owusu (illness) for the weekend, Geelong played some great basketball for three quarters. Eric Gaff was consistently good again, finishing the game with 17 points and 17 rebounds, with Jamie Medved having his best game of the season also ending up with 17 points. The fourth quarter was where it all fell over for Geelong, with the Pioneers down 16 points at three quarter they staged a comeback and outscored the home team 27-6 to snatch victory from under the Supercats nose, the final score 82-77. Geelong shot at just 13.3% for the quarter compared to the Pionners 66.7%. Brad Hill was dominant for the visitors with 31 points, 10 rebounds and 4 assists, and Erik Burdon managed 18 points and 6 assists in just his second game back for the Pioneers this year after undergoing surgery at the end of the NBL season.

After suffering a loss on their home court, the Supercats headed to Knox on Saturday night to take on the Raiders, who were riding high on their 4th win of the season last Sunday against cross town rivals the Kilsyth Cobras. The visiting Supercats trailed the whole game and the Raiders shooters seemed to find their form, with Knox getting the shock 86-79 win over Geelong and picking up their 5th win of the year. Rhys Carter top scored for the home side with 19 points, 15 of those coming from beyond the arc, along with 5 rebounds and 7 assists, while import Delwan Graham picked up a double double with 17 points and 11 rebounds. For Geelong, it was Gaff again who led from the front, with 20 points and 16 rebounds for the game, and local star Nathan Herbert adding 20 of his own points. Although out of finals contention, Knox have now strung together two wins in a row after a dismal season. The Raiders did push Geelong to overtime in Geelong earlier in the year, but this time the Supercats were not able to claw back and claim their victory. The 0-2 weekend could come back to bite them with just four rounds left and Dandenong and Nunawading snapping at their heels, Geelong may very well find themselves knocked off the top spot they have been sitting pretty in all year come September.

Meanwhile, the Mt Gambier Pioneers had some more travel ahead of them, as they headed north to Brisbane to take on the Spartans on Saturday night. Although starting strongly with a 28 point first quarter, the home side Spartans dropped off early and a 13 point third quarter sealed their fate, as Mt Gambier ran away with a 101-76 victory in the sunshine state. Brad Hill was again good for Pioneers with 17 points and 11 rebounds, and Erik Burdon with 15 points, but it was Ben Allen who was the star on Saturday, finishing with 20 points, 15 rebounds and 6 assists. For Brisbane, it was fitting that their best player was none other than Dan George, founder of the Still I Rise Foundation, who led his team with 16 points and 12 rebounds. The loss for Brisbane sees them bow out of the finals race in the East conference, with 4 games remaining they sit 4 games behind Ballarat, and the Miners hold the 2-0 head to head against the Spartans.

Elsewhere on Friday night, the Frankston Blues were handing out a 31 point loss to the Canberra Gunners in the nation’s capital, winning 110-79. The Blues jumped out to an early lead in the first quarter and steadily increased it as the game wore on, thanks to the trio of Matt Hodgson, Chuck Long and Brandon Polk. Polk finished with 20 points, 6 rebounds and 7 assists, Hodgson 26 points and 8 rebounds and Long with 25 points and 12 rebounds. For the Gunners, import Garlon Green top scored with 30 points to go along with 7 rebounds, while Daniel Joyce contributed 16 points, 5 rebounds and 3 assists. It was an important game for both teams, with the South Conference still battling to cement a top four coming into finals time, and the win for Frankston sees them rocket from 7th to 4th off the back of some other weekend results. Canberra however still have 6 games remaining to finish the season and are not out of the hunt just yet.

The Blues helped their finals chances again on Saturday with another win over the Basketball Australia Centre of Excellence, in what was the Kids last game for the year. The youngsters weren’t as easy to hold off as the Canberra side, the Blues just scraping in with a 76-71 victory in the final quarter. Matt Hodgson added another 23 points and 12 rebounds to his weekend totals, Mike McInnes was the next top scorer for the Blues with 14. For the Kids, it was Tom Wilson who led the scoring with 20 points, Xavier Cooks leading the rebounding with 12 boards to go with his 5 points. Frankston now sit 10-12 on the South Conference ladder with 4 games remaining.

The battle for South Conference finals positioning heated up on Saturday night between the Kilsyth Cobras and the Bendigo Braves when the Braves visited the Snake Pit. With Kilsyth in 3rd place and Bendigo in 4th, this game was crucial for both teams, and the Cobras came out on top, defeating the visitors 82-66. Auryn McMillan top scored for the home side with 23 points and 11 rebounds, Tim Lang just missing out on a double double with 18 points and 9 rebounds, and Kyle Adnam adding 17 points, 6 rebounds and 4 assists. For the Braves it was import duo Dustin Salisbury and Zach Atkinson who led the scoring, with 15 and 16 points respectively. The loss for Bendigo, plus Frankston’s two wins in Canberra, sees them slip down to 5th position at the end of Round 16, with the same 9-11 record as Canberra and still also with 6 games left to play.

The Nunawading Spectres also helped Frankston out by kindly defeated the Sandringham Sabres 102-86 on Saturday night to push the Sabres down to 7th place in the South.  Tommy Greer was explosive, finishing with 30 points and 11 rebounds, including 5 of 7 from downtown. Mitch Creek was also pretty handy with 19 points, 5 rebounds and 6 assists, with Simon Conn adding another 18 points to the team’s total. The Spectres outscored the Sabres 30-13 in the third quarter to set up the win. Nathan Crosswell was valiant for the home team with 23 points and 9 assists, import Ray Goins adding 20 points and 9 rebounds. The Spectres weren’t done for the weekend, with another match up scheduled on Sunday against the Hobart Chargers.

Before facing Nunawading, the depleted Chargers side headed to NSW to take on the Albury/Wodonga Bandits. After the shock sacking of Coach Paul Davie and replacement import Zac White, the Hobart side struggled against a team that for most of the season have been easy beats. To the Bandits credit, they had won three in a row prior to Round 16, but unfortunately Hobart spoiled their party – but not before a nail biting overtime finish, with the Chargers winning by just one point in the end. Deba George was huge with 42 points for the visitors, no one else on the Chargers team coming close. For the Bandits it was their replacement import Cristan Lamar-Mallory who top scored with 22 points and 15 rebounds, Alex Opacic scoring 20 points. It was the first win for Hobart after losing 6 in a row, and the first for new interim head coach Willie Joseph who took over from Paul Davie this week.

The winning feeling didn’t last long for the Chargers, as they came up against Nunawading the next day and were easily accounted for, losing 116-72. A more even spread of scoring for the Chargers saw Tom Wright, Khalil Hartwell and Deba George each with 14 points, but it seems that if Deba doesn’t go for 30 or more the Chargers don’t stand a chance. The Spectres had their own even scoring spread, with almost every player getting on the scoreboard, with Alex Vanrenen the top scorer on 16. Shane McDonald and Simon Conn each added 15, with the Spectres shooting at 66.3% for the game compared to the Chargers 37.3%. Although not mathematically eliminated from finals possibilities in the South yet, you would have to think that the turmoil within the club right now will mean a rock bottom finish for Hobart in 2014.

The Dandenong Rangers, resplendent in yellow for the Still I Rise round (and I’m sure their naming rights sponsor Solo would be very happy with the way the team looked on Saturday night – just like a can of solo!), cemented an important victory on Saturday night over the North West Tasmania Thunder, winning 75-70 in a close match up. Tony Lewis could be a real MVP contender this year, his 14 points and 11 rebound stat line not even coming close to reflecting the impact he had on the game. The only roadblock to votes would be his equally impressive teammate, Daequon Montreal, who finished the game with 13 points, 10 rebounds and 5 huge blocks. For the Thunder it was Nathan Wilson who led the scoring with 21, BJ Jenkins adding 15 to go with 4 assists and 5 steals, and Tyrone Lee with a double double of 13 points and 16 rebounds. The win for Dandenong sees them step over Geelong to sit in top spot in the East – at least for this week – having one fewer loss than Geelong, but also having played 3 fewer games. The Rangers still have 7 games left to play in the last four rounds while Geelong have just 4, and Geelong have the head to head advantage should the teams finish on the same record.

After a close loss to Dandenong on Saturday night, the North West Tasmania Thunder headed to the Mars Minerdome to take on the Ballarat Miners. While the Miners started well, it was a game controlled by the Thunder, who led for the majority of the game and eventual won 102-84. Not for lack of effort on the part of Miners import Ken Horton, whose state line of 37 points, 17 rebounds, 4 assists and 4 blocks might have earned him another player of the week nod should his team have won. But it was the Thunder who got the chocolates, import BJ Jenkins leading their scoring with 28 points, 7 rebounds and 6 assists, Nathan Wilson and Tyrone Lee each picking up double doubles with 23 points/12 rebounds and 17 points/14 rebounds respectively. An important win for the Thunder with Kilsyth now creeping up and eying off second place in the South, and still to face Mt Gambier and Dandenong.

My ATF player of the week this week goes to Brad Hill, who recently signed with the Wollongong Hawks for the upcoming NBL season, for his average of 24 points and 10.5 rebounds in two games over the weekend and helping to guide his team to a tough 2-0 road trip.

With four rounds left, the South Conference is still anybody’s pick as to who will make the final four!

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Beth Davis

Beth Davis

The extent of my basketball playing career is 3x3 in primary school, but my passion for watching, reporting, writing and presenteering (it's a word, trust me I'm a wannabe writer) about the sport knows no bounds!
Beth Davis

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