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R11 Report: Gritty Kings stun Melbourne, snap streak

Sydney captain Tom Garlepp stole the presents then Jason Cadee drove the getaway sleigh as the Kings rode into Hisense Arena and gave Melbourne United an unhappy Christmas house call on Wednesday night. A festively cheerful crowd of 7,344 filled much of the stadium expecting Melbourne to take the win but Garlepp scored 17 of his 22 points in the first term before Cadee found his range in the second half with 16 of his game-high 28 points as the Kings won 96-81. Todd Blanchfield was Melbourne’s only consistent contributor on the night with 18 points and 11 rebounds while Chris Goulding and Stephen Holt scored 16 points each. The Kings’ stunning opening was bettered by Melbourne in the second term as they won the quarter 39-20 to take a half-time lead. But after an even third quarter the Kings’ defence locked down in the last 10 minutes and Melbourne’s shooting went off the boil as they made just four of 23 shots. Kings coach Joe Connolly praised his players’ defence and their determination to win for Garlepp who was playing his 200th game. “Tom got us out of the gate,” Connolly said. “This was his 200th game so guys were really hyped about that, they really wanted to get the win for him. “We wouldn’t have won this game without him getting us out of the game and so underrated was his fourth quarter defence – we had him playing on some guards and he did a tremendous job with his length and stopping them from getting easy looks.” Connolly added the fight in the Kings side remained despite their difficulties in the first half of the season. “It was pure heart and belief man,” Connolly said. “I believed this was a tailor-made game for us to falter in – the stage was set for us to back down – we dug in deeper, guys showed so much heart and believed they could win. “This is what we were working towards – this moment.” Garlepp said the win was a relief for the Kings after five-straight losses but his opening term was one to remember. “I even did a little three-point sign – it was the first time I’ve done one of those,” Garlepp said. “It was pretty cool. I’ve even been playing in the three spot [small forward] in the last few weeks and that’s made me feel like I’m in my early 20s again. “They got me the ball early and I got it going.” Melbourne United coach Dean Demopoulos said his club was beaten on the night and had to improve. “It was a basketball game that they took basically,” Demopoulos said. “We got off to a terrible start and that didn’t help. We didn’t make too many shots and we didn’t defend too well but we did some things that were very positive and we need to build on them.” The Kings (now 4-12) face Illawarra Hawks in Wollongong on Friday night when Melbourne United (11-6) travel to Adelaide to play the 36ers next Wednesday night.   SYDNEY KINGS 96 (Cadee 28, Garlepp 22, Khazzouh 12, Thornton 12) MELBOURNE UNITED 81 (Blanchfield 18, Holt 16, Goulding 16) BOX SCORE
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