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R14 Wrap: Adelaide make a late charge for the Finals

Illawarra keep blasting opponents off the court with high-octane offence, while it is a distinctly different story in Far North Queensland. Two games conceding exactly 61 points has the League on notice for a desperate Taipans team that has a chance to slip into a semi-finals spot, but is guaranteed nuisance value for the rest of the competition. Meanwhile, Melbourne has won three-straight to take back top spot on the ladder, and Adelaide find themselves on the top four’s doorstep after also winning three in a row. Cairns Taipans 71 def Perth Wildcats 61, Cairns Convention Centre The Taipans bounced back from their disappointment in Sydney to lock down the ladder-leading Perth Wildcats and send them to their third-straight loss. After conceding 87 points to the cellar-dwelling Sydney Kings four days prior the Snakes rediscovered their defensive mojo on Wednesday, giving up a season-low 61 points. Jermaine Beal was Perth’s only real source of offence, posting 14 points in the second half, while Taipans Torrey Craig (15 points) and Shaun Bruce (10 points) continued their run of good form. Mark Worthington (13 points, six rebounds, two steals, two blocks) again played the part of defensive pest and was rewarded with a number of breakaway buckets. Both sides came in with distinctly different game plans – Perth pounded the ball inside to Nathan Jawai and Matt Knight as the big men combined for the visitor’s first 12 points, while Cairns looked for early offence. Two of the Taipans’ best athletes, Craig and Worthington, thrived in the open court as Cairns led at the end of each term and going on to win in double digits. BOX SCORE Melbourne United 97 def Illawarra Hawks 96, State Netball and Hockey Centre Two of the League’s most prominent offensive forces battled it out in the best game of the round. Thursday night in Melbourne was a showcase in offensive basketball, but Hawks star Kevin Lisch will be left to rue a play that may well have cost his side a minor premiership. With the shot clock off and scores level at 96 apiece the American guard failed to recognise the time and score situation, trying to beat United point guard Stephen Holt off the dribble with 15 seconds remaining and turning it over. Chris Goulding (game-high 27 points) drove left and drew a foul from Kirk Penney with 4.6 seconds left, making 1-of-2 from the line. The solitary point proved the difference as Illawarra could not get the inbounds pass to Penney, instead finding Cody Ellis who drove left on Todd Blanchfield and missed over the outstretched hand. Melbourne’s third-straight win was one of the season’s most thrilling finishes and has the team that started 9-0 back on top of the ladder. BOX SCORE Adelaide 36ers 87 def New Zealand Breakers 81, North Shore Events Centre While Melbourne have risen from the ashes of a mid-season slump, New Zealand’s season trajectory is headed in a distinctly different direction. Having not played since December 23rd Adelaide were raring to go in their clash across the ditch, while the home team failed to match the Sixers’ intensity and lost their third game in four outings. Scoring machine Corey Webster (12 points on 5-20 FGs) was not his usual self, but point guard Cedric Jackson (16 points, five rebounds, three assists) stepped up the scoring for one of his better games in over a month. Just two Sixers scored in double figures, as Daniel Johnson and Jerome Randle went off for 25 points each. Johnson added a game-high 12 rebounds in an efficient 8-10 shooting night and Randle dished a game-high eight dimes. The home side dug its way out of a 17-point hole early in the third quarter but Randle played closer, scoring or assisting on four of his team’s five final-quarter field goals – including Daniel Johnson’s dagger three midway through the quarter as NZ were making a run. BOX SCORE Cairns Taipans 75 def Townsville Crocodiles 61, Cairns Convention Centre Cameron Gliddon put in a captain’s knock as his Taipans put Townsville in a straitjacket on Friday. Gliddon finished with 25 points but it was Cairns’ team defence that stole the limelight from their captain’s game-high, as the Taipans won consecutive games for the first time this season. For the second game in a row the Snakes held their opponent to a season-low 61 points after Perth walked away licking their wounds on Wednesday. Gliddon received notable contributions from Torrey Craig (15 points, six boards) and a confidence-boosting 14 from Cameron Tragardh. Shaun Bruce had a night to forget, but import Markel Starks came up big with 11 points in 14:28 on court. The game was one-way traffic as the hosts kept Townsville scoreless in the 7:45 before half time and stretched the lead to 25 late in the third term, before Crocs streak shooter Mirko Djeric got going with five treys in under four minutes either side of three-quarter time to avoid potentially record-breaking embarrassment for the club. BOX SCORE Illawarra Hawks 114 def Sydney Kings 90, Sydney Olympic Park Illawarra took out frustrations from Thursday’s heartbreak on their New South Wales rivals, scoring an NBL season-high 114 points on Saturday. Kirk Penney (29 points, five assists) was superb for the Hawks, while AJ Ogilvy made up for his most forgettable game of the season with 19 points and six rebounds. Tim Coenraad had 13 points after sitting out the Melbourne game and Cody Ellis continued his solid run of form with 10 points. Blasting 15-of-31 from downtown and 53 per cent from the field the Hawks were never troubled, opening up a 34-20 lead by quarter time and leading by a dozen at the main break. A Kings fightback was on the cards early in the third quarter as Jason Cadee (nine points) got the margin back to 10 on a three-pointer, but the buzz around Sydney Olympic Park did not last long as 10 points became 22 in 3:10 thanks to four threes to Penney, Oscar Forman and Kevin White. Jordan Vandenberg was solid in his six minutes of court time, posting six points and two blocks. Tom Garlepp’s 18 points led the home side. BOX SCORE Six games make up Round 15, with four of them home-and-homes. Cairns host Melbourne on Wednesday before New Zealand take a trip to Wollongong on Thursday. Friday’s double sees Cairns and Melbourne play their second leg at the State Netball and Hockey Centre, and Perth host Sydney straight after. Townsville are at home to Adelaide on Saturday and the round wraps up in New Zealand when the Breakers and Hawks do battle for a second time.
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