The Hawks forces series decider in Adelaide
The Illawarra Hawks have outlasted the Adelaide 36ers but not before they got an almighty scare. The 36ers were still in the game until the final buzzer, before losing 100-94. The clash of the afternoon was between Jerome Randle and Mitch Norton, both players having a considerable impact on the match.
The Hawks opened in an attacking manner after 250-game coach Rob Beveridge’s comments made at Titanium Security Arena on Thursday night. Six rebounds to zero enabled the Hawks to take an early lead.
Randle was booed every time he went anywhere near the ball. However, the reigning MYP embraced the extra attention and pushed Adelaide back in front during the first quarter.
Terrance Ferguson was introduced into the game mid-way through the first and opened his account with a triple, continuing his aggression from Thursday night.
Trips to the free throw line and some-crowd influenced calls put the Hawks a couple of baskets in front. Their rebounding was a marked improvement on game one. The Hawks led by six at quarter- time (28-22), Norton and Kay leading the scoring with six each.
Wright implored the team to tidy up its rebounding to take advantage of their better shooting percentage from the first stanza but the Hawks got the jump early. Some sloppy turnovers and Clarke hit the scoreboard for the first time in the game.
After White scored on Randle, the two ‘exchanged pleasantries’, which required intervention from referee Vaughan Mayberry.
Creek got busy with Adelaide’s next five but the determined Hawks took advantage of some poor defensive set-ups from Adelaide and had a 12-point lead. Randle cut it back to single figures but, with plenty of offensive fouls being called, momentum swung both ways. Teys, active at both ends, helped Adelaide to a 10-4 run.
Both sides called time-out in quick succession. Wright delivered one of the time-out speeches of the season.
“Playoffs are about being yourself when it’s tough to be yourself,”
– Joey Wright
A fired-up Drmic scored a couple of triples and Adelaide was back in the game at half-time, courtesy of an and1 opportunity on the buzzer from Sobey. He created the contact and draining the runner but the Hawks led 54-49 at the main break and leading the 36ers on the rebounds 24-19. Tim Coenraad led all scorers with 14 and Drmic had 10 for the Sixers.
The 36ers heeded Wright’s words throughout the second half. DJ and Randle put Adelaide back into the battle and Teys started to influence the game at both ends showing his averages double in finals basketball. The 36ers started to attack the basket and the Hawks were looking nervous as Coenraad once again sat down in the third after collecting his fourth foul.
The Hawks improved their lead to five when DJ and Hodgson couldn’t work out who was bringing it up court and Clarke made them pay with a rare triple for the afternoon. DJ was finding himself at the offensive end and Randle’s goal-tended basket and runner jump shot put them in front for the first time since the first quarter. A 29-25 quarter had the 36ers down by a point at three-quarter time and leading the rebounds 29-28.
Creek slipped the defence to start the final quarter, Teys found Jacobsen and Clarke again found range: scores level. Sobey hit an open triple before dishing an assist on the fast break. After a quiet game, Sobey started to become a factor.
Randle took the game to Norton on the dribble and produced a potentially match-winning move; scores again level at 93 apiece, with less than four minutes remaining. Norton then outworked Randle and the Hawks led 97-93.
Unexplainably, after the next rebounding contest Jacobsen was grabbed by the leg and dragged to the ground with the ball already over halfway and a standard foul was called, much to the dismay of the 36ers bench. The Hawks managed to win the pinball rebounds as Randle gave up his fourth foul and sent Norton to the line; he made both taking it to 99-93 with 21 seconds left in the game.
Randle appeared to receive some contact going for the triple as Ogilvy was fouled by the Sixers making one to take their total to 100. DJ was fouled, scored and with 11 seconds left the Hawks led 100-94.
A travel from Kay gave Adelaide a chance to get back into it at the eleventh hour but the Hawks held form to force a game three: 100-94 being the final score. Adelaide won only one of the key statistics (rebounds) as the Hawks forced Adelaide into 16 crucial turnovers, with eight between Sobey and Randle.
Adelaide 36ers coach Joey Wright told adelaide36ers.com: “We had some opportunity out there; it was a pretty good ball game. If even two things had gone different it would’ve been possibly a different result.”
Guard Adam Doyle echoed Wright’s comments, acknowledging the result could’ve gone in a different direction.
“We’ll stick to what we know and get ready to come out Thursday and make sure we play similar to the way we played today,” Doyle said.
Hawks coach Rob Beveridge praised his side’s ability to execute but foreshadowed that it would be even more difficult to do that in Thursday’s clash at Titanium Security Arena.
“Our resilience tonight was great, they gave everything they’ve got tonight but we know to get through that we’ve got to learn to handle the Adelaide crowd.
“They are the best team when they run and get on the run with their home crowd,” Beveridge said.
Guard Norton, whose game on Randle once again was crucial, also talked about the importance of doing the little things on Thursday night.
“We need to lock down on defence and get back on defence transition. We’ve got to start communicating at stoppages during the game when that crowd gets large in their stadium,” the feisty Norton said.
Jerome Randle led the way for the 36ers again with 20 points, seven assists and five rebounds and was well supported by Johnson with 17 points and five rebounds. Eric Jacobsen had an influential second half with 12 points, six rebounds and two blocks.
The Hawks had more contributors in this match with Norton doing the job at both ends with 17 points and three assists while Coenraad was hitting some finals form with a double-double of 17 points and 10 rebounds.
Game three is at Titanium Security Arena on Thursday (7pm tip-off). The winner advances to the final, the loser to look to the 2017-2018 season.
Adelaide 36ers 94 (Randle 20, Johnson 17, Jacobsen 12) defeated by Illawarra Hawks 100 (Norton, Coenraad 17, Clarke 15) at WIN Entertainment Centre
Written by Tristan Prentice