In-Depth: Jets fly to top, Cavs pluck Turkeys

The penultimate round of regular season games tipped off with a top of the table clash between Forget Me Not Jets and Wolves. It was Jets who came out swinging with an active triangle-and-two defence that sought to lock down Wolves’ Ross Wilson and Ollie Chrzanowski-Smith. They coupled their defensive efforts with solid shooting from Paul Kilic and inside play by Peter Boussougou, which soon had Jets flying ahead, 12-0. Wolves struggled in the opening minutes and the rings at the NSC proved decidedly stubborn, rejecting every shot. A switch up late in the quarter saw Ben Takken open the scoring for Wolves and he was soon joined by Ross Wilson in a flurry of baskets that brought Wolves back into contention.

Disaster struck though as Wilson badly rolled his ankle on a drive late in the quarter. Drawing a foul from the defence as he shot, Wilson was awarded two free-throws and, under the rules of the game, would be permanently benched if he was unable to take them. Hoping that he could continue to play with some strapping, Wilson stepped up to the line to take the shots, sinking the second and then being immediately substituted for an assessment which ruled him out for the remainder of the match. Wolves held off any reply from Jets until the end of the quarter but were still trailing at the end of the first, 16-10.

The loss of Wilson phased Wolves, but they still came out strong in the opening of the second quarter with a slick 3-pointer that slashed Jets lead as Oscar Lace found space on the outside. More effective defence and some solid breaks saw Wolves snapping at the heels of Jets as Michael Pardoe joined Takken & Lace on the scoresheet. Jets adjusted as the game continued and again it was Kilic and Boussougou who led the charge, both working the inside game around the key to rack up points. Halftime saw Jets extend their lead by 3, scores standing 34-25.

A brutal opening to the second half ended Wolves hopes of victory as Jets went on a 15-point unanswered run that was bookended by outside shots from Kilic. Wolves shooting continued to falter and, despite some decent opportunities, the hoops continued to reject shot after shot. The drought broke by the mid-point of the third but not to a level that allowed them to narrow Jets commanding lead. A low scoring fourth quarter followed, and Jets took a solid win, 68-44, and the top spot in the league table while Wolves were left to lick their wounds ahead of the play-offs.

The second game of the evening saw Cavaliers, secure in their play-off place, face Turkeys who are still fighting for a spot in the finals. It started as a close fought competition, a returning Phil Evans posting points for Cavs while Turkeys relied on inside play to keep pace. It all changed in the second quarter as Cavaliers shut down Turkeys Allan Walkinshaw while their own Martin French found his form outside the arc with a trio of 3-pointers. It was enough to power Cavaliers ahead, 30-22 at half time.

French’s shooting proved decisive in the second half as well, posting another six 3-pointers that fuelled Cavaliers momentum keeping them well in the lead, and taking French’s total to an impressive 27-points from outside the arc. Turkeys continued to fight throughout but they couldn’t match a surging Cavaliers who were firing on all cylinders. With the final whistle Cavaliers had the game, 69-52, and Turkeys path to the play-offs became a little more difficult.

The final game of the evening was an energetic clash between Ravens and Hoops, a must win for both teams to keep them in contention for the season finals on April 27th. Balanced in the opening minutes, both sides found success in the mid-range with Hoops Gemma Kirkham and Amber Carridge matching Ravens Cormac Ewan and Miltos Provatakis basket for basket to keep the teams’ level. Things clicked for Ravens in the mid-quarter and a perfect combo of pace and precision saw them blaze ahead as Matthew Jones joined Provatakis and Ewan in racking up points. It continued through the second quarter and by halftime Ravens were well ahead, 44-16.

Hoops adjusted over halftime and came into the second half with a renewed energy that slowed Ravens scoring and opened opportunities on offence. Lauren Ellison and Holly Hennessy joined the scoring while Becky Dunne capped a solid third quarter performance with a swish 3-pointer for Hoops. The solid play continued throughout the fourth and with an extra step up in defence Ravens were effectively shut down. While they took the second half, Hoops couldn’t match the run that Ravens had produced in the first and the game ended, 77-51, in Ravens favour keeping their play-off dreams alive.

This week’s results setup an exciting final week in the regular season as Ravens and Turkeys both vie for the last spot in this year’s finals, with Jets, Wolves and Cavaliers having already secured their places. First on the docket on Thursday are Ravens as they face Forget Me Not Jets at 18:00 in a must win for a 4th place finish and place in the finals. The NSC main hall then sees a double header at 20:00 as Wolves take on MicroGaming Cavaliers and Turkeys face Hoops. Turkeys have the easier path to the play-offs as either a loss by Ravens or a victory over Hoops will allow them to progress. All games are played in the NSC Main Hall and seating is available for any spectators wishing to attend.

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