In-Depth: Wolves & Jets through to Final

There was plenty of action at the NSC as the penultimate week of the 2022/23 season tipped off with two semi-final play-offs. The early game was a hotly anticipated affair between MicroGaming Cavaliers and Wolves. Cavaliers have proved to be a formidable opponent in previous years’ play-offs knocking Wolves out of the competition twice before and, with Wolves missing 4 key players including top scorers Ross Wilson & Viktor Capkanovski, the odds seemed tipped in their favour again.

Wolves weren’t to be underestimated though and a swish 3-pointer in the opening minutes from Ollie Smith set a tone for the game. Les Winnicki responded on the drive for Cavaliers but another two 3-pointers from Smith had Wolves flying ahead, while an aggressive pressing defence kept Cavaliers on the back foot. Momentum stayed with Wolves throughout the first quarter with tough defence accompanied by solid shooting, Smith joined by Kyle Mills from outside the 3-point line. There was plenty still to play for though, scores standing 21-16 to Wolves at the end of the quarter.

A change in tack from Wolves in the second quarter saw a quick pace that caught Cavaliers defence in transition and opened opportunities for points inside the arc. Cavs job was made even more difficult as Wolves scoring was shared throughout their team, Ben Campbell, Cameron Scott, Corey Pinder, and Michael Pardoe all finding baskets on the drive and mid-range. Cavaliers defence did their best to adjust but with everything clicking for Wolves it was tough to contain the multiple offensive threats. Dave Minay and Daniel Dunajewski managed to keep Cavaliers score ticking over but Wolves were starting to pull away, scores 41-25 at half time.

The game was sealed in the third, as a further step up in defensive pressure from Wolves effectively shut down the Cavaliers offence, their only points in the quarter coming from Minay at the free throw line. Again scoring on the other end of the floor was spread throughout the Wolves team, Pardoe, Scott, Mills and Smith all featuring. With baskets coming from multiple players and a near relentless pressure in transition, Wolves pulled further ahead while Cavs started to show signs of fatigue. By the end of the third quarter scores stood 54-29 and the game seemed settled.

Cavaliers started to break through in the fourth, Martin French and Phil Evans finding their mark with some nice shots. Wolves scoring continued to be spread throughout their squad making it hard for Cavaliers defence to contain and allowing Wolves to match pace with the renewed Cavs offensive performance. A late flurry allowed Wolves to claim a points edge, 18-15, in a more balanced quarter but their spot in the Championship Final was already well secured, score 72-44 to Wolves at full time.

The second game of the evening pitched first seed Forget Me Not Jets against Turkeys with both teams hoping to keep their trophy dreams alive. Turkeys opened with a strong showing from seasoned player Chris Wolfendale, who lived up to his credentials as one of the island’s best shooters with 10 quick points in the first few minutes. Jets stayed close through efforts from Wayne Mears and Peter Boussougou but their offence seemed unsettled and lagged behind Turkeys pace. Unhappy with his sides’ performance, Jets player/coach Paul Kilic took a time out and sought to settle his squad.

It was a game changing break as Jets returned to the floor to post a 16-point run that pushed them well ahead in the first quarter, 23-15. Jets kept the pace throughout the remainder of the game, with Bousssougou, Mears and Kilic racking up plenty of points against the Turkeys defence. Turkeys struggled in reply and the despite Wolfendale finding some more success deep in 3-point territory, Jets continued to pull away. With the final buzzer Jets had a decisive win, 95-50, and will now set their sights on Thursday’s final.

The results set-up an exciting Championship final between Wolves and Forget Me Not Jets which is sure to be speed and intensity by both sides. Entering their fourth Championship final as the current title holders, Jets will be keen to show they have staying power. Meanwhile Wolves will be hungry to make their mark and take-home silverware in their first appearance on the arena court. Both teams have notched up wins against one another in the regular season so the title match should be a hotly contested affair.

This year’s Championship Final will be held on the Arena Court in the NSC Main Hall on Thursday 4th May, tipping off at 20:00. Courtside seating is freely available, and the game will be preceded by the Junior League finals so it should be an enjoyable night of basketball for all the family.

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