Sandringham and Kilsyth go head-to-head in our game of the week, plus we preview each match.
By Grant Richardson
Game Of The Week – Sandringham v Kilsyth
Saturday 18th April – 7:00pm @ Sandringham Basketball Stadium
Pre-season, Kilsyth were seen as a possible South Conference champion while it was considered unlikely that Sandringham would sneak into the top four as they did last year. However, after Round 1, the tables have been turned with the Cobras falling to Dandenong and the Sabres winning two on the road.
Those Sandringham victories were hard fought as they held off a fast-finishing Hobart side to win by 3 before defeating N/W Tasmania by 4 despite a 12-21 final term. A Tasmanian road trip to open the season is certainly a tough ask but sweeping the weekend has already given the Sabres a head-start on the rest of the competition.
Rayshawn Goins was the star, averaging 23.5 points at 62% shooting and 12.5 rebounds over the weekend. In the match against N/W Tasmania, he collected 8 offensive boards to the Thunder’s 9 as a team. He was ably assisted by Junior Hairston (15 points, 9 rebounds per game) while Stefan Uzelac averaged 10 points off the bench.
Tim Lang and Auryn MacMillan will have the job of slowing down Goins and Hairston but Kilsyth will be looking for an improved performance from both their stars after they combined for just 19 points and 8 rebounds in an 8 point loss to Dandenong. Daequon Montreal got off the leash in that match and the Cobras need to be wary of another dominant display from an opposition power forward.
In the off-season, Kilsyth addressed their lack of depth with the additions of Taylor Cameron and Kieran Murphy. At 201cm, Murphy received little playing time in Round 1 but will aid the Cobras in guarding against the bigger bodies of the league. We could see more of him if Sandringham’s third forward, Trent Zomer, improves on his own debut performance.
Having heard about their impressive road trip, the Sabres faithful should flock to Sandringham Basketball Stadium to witness their promising side. They deserve to go in as favourites but if Lang and MacMillan can fire for Kilsyth, the added incentive of a looming 0-2 start should get them over the line.
Prediction: Kilsyth by 4
Friday, 17th April –
Hobart v Geelong:
Both sides suffered narrow losses in Round 1, with Cam Bennerman missing a game tying three in the dying seconds for Hobart while Geelong’s Nick Owusu and Nathan Herbert also missed on buzzer beaters in their match against Ballarat. Scoring just 26 points in the second half and 61 points overall last weekend, the Chargers will be looking for an improved effort at the offensive end.
Mt. Gambier v Canberra:
The Pioneers already have a worse home record than they did last season after they began their title defence with a loss to Nunawading. They are in the middle of a three game home stand and will be looking to get on the winners list against a Canberra side that tallied only 57 points in Round 1, with their bench collecting 3 points and 11 fouls.
Albury-Wodonga v Bendigo:
The Bandits shot out of the blocks with a 40 point win over the Gunners, hitting 53% from the field while out-scoring their opponents 44-16 in the paint. They won’t find the going as easy against the bigger front court of the Braves who pulled down 20 offensive rebounds despite losing to Ballarat.
Saturday, 18th April –
Brisbane v Ballarat:
A 28-9 second term paved the way for Brisbane in their victory over Frankston but Saturday night will be a true test as they host the ominous looking Miners. All 12 rostered players hit the scoreboard for the Spartans and it will require another team effort to control Roy Booker and Kodi Augustus who both scored 20+ in Ballarat’s wins over Bendigo and Geelong.
Dandenong v Canberra:
Trailing by 5 points with six minutes remaining, Dandenong finished their clash against Kilsyth on a 24-11 run with Andrew Harms and Daequon Montreal out-scoring the Cobras 24-23 in the final term. While five of the Rangers’ first six games are at home, Canberra’s tough three game road trip to start the year ends here.
NW Tasmania v Geelong:
Five players reached double figures for the Thunder last weekend but they had no answer for Goins. Although he is not as athletic, Ash Cannan has a skill set that could once again expose N/W Tasmania in the power forward position though the visitors could be vulnerable on the second night of their Tasmanian double-header.
Nunawading v Albury-Wodonga:
This will not be an easy road trip for Albury-Wodonga, backing up less than 24 hours after hosting Bendigo. Nunawading will be fresh having not played in eight days but an upset win would stake the Bandits claim on the East Conference against a perennial finals contender.
Sunday, 19th April –
Kilsyth v Frankston:
Frankston jumped out to a 13 point lead in the first quarter against Brisbane but by half-time they trailed by 14. That turnaround proved insurmountable, despite finishing the match on a 12-2 run.
They will need to find consistency in their game if they are to compete with Kilsyth in the Cobras’ first home match of the year.