BIG V – GRAND FINAL SERIES
SO WE go to game three…. and won’t it be a nail-biter.
There’s no other fitting way to describe the BIG V Division 2 Men’s grand final series thus far.
Keysborough’s double-overtime win last weekend in the first match was matched, and then some, by a tenacious fight-back from Western Port on their home court.
The 81-80 last-ditch victory kept the Steelers’ alive and forced the series to go the distance in order to find a winner.
It started with a bang for Keysborough as Malcolm Heard (29 points, 13 rebounds) and Adam Sliwinski (12 points, six rebounds) found their three-point range early.Even the big Oyster himself Robert Ostojic (nine points, 10 rebounds) found his range to help push the Cougars well away through most of the match.
Demoralised and missing the easiest of shots, it seemed like Western Port had thrown in the towel part way through the third term afterWhile the lead fluctuated from eight all the way up to a whopping 15 through the third term, for most of the night it was a 10 point margin the Steelers were faced with.Despite being up against the wall, Western Port found a way to stick in the clash and kick into high-gear when the time was right.And the Cougars let the home side stay in the clash too with poor foul shooting.Whether it was the hyper-noise echoing around the Steelerdome or just the pressure of the moment overwhelming the Cougars, whatever the case may be – Keysborough made some howlers from the free throw line.
It’s there in the stats-sheet – 15 of 34 frees made from the line. If any of those drop it’s a different ball game, but instead the Steelers seized the slender window left open by the Cougars.
It started with a phenomenal passage of play from league superstar Manny Hendrix (28 points) – the Steelers’ guard put himself onto Heard defensively late in the third term and came up with the goods instantly, taking a couple of steals and lighting the game up with a phenomenal play.
He hit his first free – after getting fouled by Sliwinski on a fast-break – missed the second, pushed out to his favourite wing and drilled the three – putting the gap at 68-63.
Three more treys dropped for the Steelers in a three-minute window to bring the game past to 76-75.
It was all level soon thereafter with three minutes to go – 77-apiece – and neither side was willing to take the foot off the pedal.
Sliwinski popped up again to hit a clutch three, only to see Western Port charge down the court and hit one of their own via Dale Jaensch (12 points).
The last 90 seconds was the true definition of chaos – John Constance stepped out of court, Hendrix missed a crucial three-attempt, Constance went to the line and missed his frees, before Dylan Walsh missed a shot for the Steelers.
Keysborough had one last chance in the dying seconds to post the match-winning shot, but the frantic attempt bounced off the ring to give Western Port the see-it-to-believe-it 81-80 comeback victory.
Western Port only held the lead for two minutes in the match, but they picked the right two to be ahead when the final siren went.
Heard was sensational once again – as the import singlehandedly fought back in the final term as the match started to slip away – while Andrew Lowe (six points) provided a spark through his limited court-time and Jamal Talo (one point, five rebounds, four assists) stuck with Hendrix as long as he could in another superb guarding effort from the young Cougar.
Keysborough faces Western Port in the decider today (Sunday) from 2pm at Western Port’s home court in Somerville.
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