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Taipans defeat Crocs take top of the table

Another fourth-quarter masterclass has rocketed last season's minor premiers Cairns Taipans to a big lead in this year's NBL Blitz with an 82-67 win over the Townsville Crocodiles on Friday night. The Snakes were rock solid when it counted, raining jumpers in an 11/16 fourth term as they turned a seven-point third-quarter lead into 15 by the end. Silky Taipans import Markel Starks and Stephen Weigh drained jumpers right out of the gate to take the margin to double digits – a gap that was never threatened. Two consecutive made shots became five as the Snakes gradually drew the margin out with a series of impeccable cuts from Starks and Craig, while captain Cameron Gliddon and veteran Mark Worthington iced it with triples in the final three minutes. "When you've got a consistency with your roster, roles are consistent and you get into a bit of a rhythm minute-wise and we moved the ball really well tonight," Taipans mentor Aaron Fearne said post-game. "A little disappointed with how we came out in the third. We just turned down open shots, and I'm big on uncontested shots. "But they re-adjusted and I thought our defence tonight was really stingy; they didn't get much easy. "We had some breakdowns. I'm not very patient when it comes to that type of thing – the defensive end – and they know it and that's a non-negotiable for us at that end of the floor." The Crocs were paced by reigning league MVP Brian Conklin who finished with 18 points and receiving contributions from tough guard Corey Maynard (13 points) and Clint Steindl (12). The first half was dominated by two bigmen – Conklin (12 points) and Cameron Tragardh (15 points on 6/9 from the field). Both bigs Targardh mixed up post play with jumpers out to 18 feet in the aesthetic first half. The third term was one of the scrappiest of this year's Blitz with both teams registering just 12 points between both teams before Cairns exploded in the final term. Crocs Clint Steindl and Corey Maynard attempted to snatch the game under Cairns' nose with late buckets, but Cairns' execution was too much to handle. Post-game Croc coach Shawn Dennis again lauded his team's fight after losing energetic power forward Mitch Young after just two minutes of play, while Conklin and Nick Kay played through foul trouble. "Plenty of lessons (from tonight). It was difficult to lose Mitch Young with Schenscher out," Dennis said. "We had Mitch Young stand on someone's foot in the first minutes and Brian and Nick getting in foul trouble. So our four bigs were effectively out of the game, and they are a big part of what we do. "To hang in the game was incredibly positive. I know it ended out being a 15-point win but I think that was a bit blown-out in the end." The Taipans (6.5 Blitz points) all-but kept the Crocodiles scoreless with a 12-12 third quarter being the only points the reigning Blitz champions took away from Friday.   Cairns Taipans 82 (Torrey Craig 15, Cameron Tragardh 15, Weigh 12, Gliddon 10) Townsville Crocodiles 67 (Conklin 18, Maynard 13, Steindl 12) Box Score
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