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R17 Report: Craig show gets Snakes over Kings

A high-flying, freewheeling Torrey Craig dominated his opposite number Josh Childress to star for the Cairns Taipans in their animated 81-76 win over the Sydney Kings at the Cairns Convention Centre on Friday evening. The result seals the wooden spoon for the Kings for just the second time their storied franchise’s history. The Snakes and the Kings had nothing to lose and for most of the game they played like it, with 19 lead changes and rapid-fire scoring exchanges. Jason Cadee’s game-high 21 points and a late surge in the paint by his big men wasn’t enough for Sydney to overcome a Snakes team buoyed by Craig’s dazzling array of poster dunks, drives and threes. Craig’s mercurial performance was backed up by vintage performances on behalf of Taipans veterans Cam Tragardh (18 points), Mark Worthington (eight) and Alex Loughton (seven). In a free-flowing first term, Craig (20 points, five rebounds) outshone his opposite number Childress with some sleek drives, a three and a key offensive rebound to propel the Snakes to a six-point lead heading into the second quarter. A pair of poster dunks by Craig set the Cairns Convention Centre on fire in the second quarter but sharp shooting by Cadee saw the Kings claw to within four of the Snakes at the half (39-35). The Snakes’ lead slipped to just one at the end of the third quarter with Kings general Tom Garlepp and Cadee leading the fightback. Taipans veteran Tragardh starred off the bench with seven hard-fought points in the paint and a foul shot on his way to 18 points for the game. With just minutes to go, bombs from both teams landed in rapid succession from beyond the three-point arc but it was the Taipans who snuck home with some late form at the stripe. "The Kings are tough and we were able to make some plays at both ends of the floor at the end of the game that got us across the line," Taipans coach Aaron Fearne said. "You’ve got to be the best team you can be right to the very last game." Taipans leader Gliddon described the game as "scrappy". "We came to play but we needed a rev up because we were a bit flat at times," Gliddon said. "There’s a lot of pride there, you don’t want to lose, and we’re not giving up yet. We’ll keep fighting." Kings coach Joe Connelly was happy to claim a win in the series against the Taipans and is proud of his team’s performance in recent games. "Our guys were composed throughout because the crowd was really into it," Connelly said. "And as a coach you ask your guys to leave it out on the court and that’s what they did. I’m proud to be their coach." The Taipans confront the Adelaide 36ers at home in the Cairns Convention Centre next Friday before jetting across the Tasman to face the New Zealand Breakers at the North Shore Events Centre on Sunday. The Kings step in to the daunting Perth Arena to take on the mighty Wildcats on Friday. CAIRNS TAIPANS 81 (Craig 20, Tragardh 18, Gliddon 11) SYDNEY KINGS 76 (Cadee 21, Garlepp 16, Childress 14) BOX SCORE
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