Spirited Hoops hounded by Wolves

There was a slow start for league leaders Wolves and Forget Me Not Jets in their Senior Basketball Games on Thursday night. Wolves found themselves on the wrong side of an energised Hoops in the opening quarter, with Oksana Federovych and Gemma Kirkham matching pace with Michael Pardoe and Viktor Capkanovski to keep the teams neck and neck. Wolves’ offence struggled as Hoops locked down the key and this gave plenty of chances for Hoops to breakthrough. The initiative was seized late in the first as Becky Dunne and Danielle Murphy made it rain from outside the arc, hitting 3 successive 3-pointers to push the Hoops ahead – 17-14 at the buzzer.

After licking their wounds at the break, Wolves came out fighting in the second quarter with a change up in defence and a greater emphasis on fast breaks. Murphy kept the Hoops ahead with another swish basket from outside the arc and Lauren Ellison and a returning Holly Hennessy followed quickly with inside shots that extended the lead. Wolves held their nerve though and soon the changes in strategy paid dividends as defence denied Hoops shooting while Ross Wilson went on 15-point rampage with a series of breaks that were capped off by a slick 3-pointer. When half time arrived, the fortunes had reversed, and Wolves were in the lead – 24-41.

The second half continued Wolves’ advance with the scoring led by Capkanovski who setup outside the 3-point line and locked onto the hoop for swish after swish. The run and gun offence built momentum for Wolves through the half, though it was a less than perfect performance as several open shots and layups were missed, keeping the stats man on his toes. Hoops continued to move the ball well as they sought opportunities, but the defence proved solid and it wasn’t until later in the fourth that they again made headway. Baskets from Federovych and Ellison pushed Hoops forward but the breakthrough came too late to change the face of the game. At the final buzzer Wolves had won the day, final score 36-79.

The story was vaguely familiar as Jets faced Cavaliers on Court 2, with the current title holders widely expected to take an easy win against Cavaliers with the departure of key man Sergio Arboleya. Cavaliers were keen to prove that they aren’t a spent force though and came out strong in the opening with a corner three from Martin French and four points on the inside from Dave Minay. Solid defence kept Jets grounded and they struggled to catch Cavaliers until late in the first quarter. Unfortunate shooting fouls by the defenders gave Jets 4 free-throws which Tom Dalton-Brown and Paul Kilic were happy to sink to draw the teams level, 13-13.

Stern words from player/coach Paul Kilic fired up Jets going into the second quarter and Jake Glover pushed the break to power them ahead. The problems were compounded when the Cavaliers defence again sent Jets to the line for free-throws and within a few short minutes they were trailing by 9 points. A quick time out saw the Cavs stem the tide and soon the points started to flow as Minay on the inside was complimented by James Capelan on the mid-range and drives. More disciplined defence denied Jets anymore free throws and the teams traded points through to halftime, but the early run kept Jets well ahead 36-27.

The second half played to Jets strengths with an aggressive pace down the court that allowed them to capitalise on every turnover for fast break points. Cavs found it difficult to match and failed to breakdown a more active defence from Jets which stunted any momentum. The fourth was more balanced in scoring but by that stage Jets had the game well in hand and ran out the winners, 67-43. Cavs will take heart in a strong performance in the opening which they will hope to replicate and carry through to the play-offs in late April.

This Thursday sees some of the continuation of the regular season with two matches due to tip-off at 20:00 in the NSC Main Hall. Court 1 will see Forget Me Not Jets take on Turkeys while Court 2 sees Ravens play Cavaliers. Courtside seating is available free of charge for any spectators who wish to attend.

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