The Adelaide University Blacks division 1 men's and women's teams headed down to Marion for a doubleheader with hopes of advancing straight to the big dance with a W. Spirits were high from the supporters, after David Linn delivered the news that the youth league squad continued their hot form on Monday night with a comfortable win and were heading to the preliminary final. Both division 1 teams topped their ladder, earning themselves a double chance. Coincidentally, the opponents of the night were both last winter season's grand final opponents - a consistently strong Southern Tigers squad in the men, and a veteran South Adelaide outfit in the women. There was plenty to play for.
The Men's game got off to a cracking start, with captain Timmy Summers driving hard to the hoop and converting an and1 finish. A Toby Lightheart offensive put back followed by a customary 3-pointer with a hand in his face gave the Blacks a surge of energy to start the game. Despite the opponents best attempts to convince the referee that Matthew 'Bobby' Rogers was setting moving backdoor screens (he only does this at training!), the referee's had a differing opinion: Instead awarded an unsportsmanlike foul to the Southern big man and sending Bobby to the line for a pair of FT's. A quick offensive putback from Lachie 'The Shadow' Hunter gave the blacks an early 12-2 lead and things were looking good.
In what proved to be a recurring theme for the night, Timmy Summers continued to attack the defence and score inside, while splashing 3-pointers when left open, bagging 10 points by the end of the quarter. After a few poor defensive rotations to end the quarter, Southern's shooters made a pair of shots closing the margin - Blacks went into the quarter break up 26-20.
The second quarter started with a flash of Alex Zhang as he scored within his first 6 seconds of getting on the court! Southern clawed back the margin, with their shooter(/flopper) #15 splashing a pair of 3-pointers on back to back plays bringing the margin to 2 points. This would be the closest Southern would get to the Blacks for this quarter, as Timmy Summers scored back to back buckets on strong drives. A mid-range jumpshot from Lachie Cotton, followed by Toby racking off a quick 7 points extended the margin comfortably, before Josh Warnock got out on the break and finished a nice layup with Southern defenders falling backwards everywhere. The referee's did not appreciate their flopping, with Josh converting the and1. Another 3-pointer from Timmy, followed by Alex scoring on his second touch helped the Blacks lead into the half 55-37.
The third quarter started with an excellent deep seal by 'The Shadow', converting on an and1. At this stage of the game, foul trouble was creeping into concerns for the Southern boys, as they were playing only 7 players, compared to 9 from the Blacks. Alex continued attacking the basket, putting some pressure on the Southern defenders in isolation scenarios.
The defence started out great in the third quarter, with Southern taking nearly 4 minutes to get their first basket of the half. Big Cameron 'better than Simran at 3-pointers' Warnock pinned an innocent kids shot onto the glass, leading to a strong drive from Harry Minear, drawing the foul in the process. Unlucky not to convert, the next few minutes developed into a scrappier than normal level of play, with wild shots, turnovers and bodies on the ground everywhere. The play was settled, when the referee decided to give one of the Southern players a harsh tech-foul after a jump-ball on the ground. Toby converted on the ensuing shot, however the Blacks margin heading into the half maintained only 20 points, leading 66-46.
The fourth quarter started once again with Alex getting the better of the defence, scoring on the first possession. Some great defence by the inside tandem of Lachie & Lachie started tilting the opponents, as Southern were already at the foul limit within 3 minutes (that's impressive - even I couldn't do that!). Both teams traded a few baskets, before Southern called a timeout with 5 minutes to play.
The tigers came out of the timeout with some full court pressure, in hope of rattling the blacks and reel off a bunch of 3-pointers to reduce the margin, however Harry 'Mid-range' Minear founds his favourite spot on the court and makes a nice jumper. He then plays some terrific rotation defence on the Southern big man and denies him inside, with the outlet rebound heading to Toby on the wing who drops another 3-pointer, demoralising the Southern team. A pair of 3-pointers caps off an excellent night for captain Timmy Summers as he enjoys the last few minutes on the bench with a well-deserved BOG (uncut fan footage of the game reveals that he got "Zaza'd" on his last shot, but we will leave that to the jury to decide on that).
In what has become a familiar trend, the Blacks closed up the win with a customary 3-point attempt from Cam Warnock in the closing stages of the game. All I can say is that this attempt made Simran Bedi look like Steph Curry. Blacks are victors, 91-59.
Coach Matthew Wensley said the keys to the game were offensive execution in the first half, and weathering the storm from the Southern shooters.
"They have a few guys that can really get hot and make tough shots under pressure. It was important we limited the scoreboard damage that they would do, while focussing on executing our sets down the other end.
We had a few guys on the bench - Alex, Harry, Cam - that were willing to sacrifice and come in energetic and play 3-4 minutes of high-intensity ball at a time. They [Southern] didn't, so that was an advantage for us"
The extra legs proved handy for the Blacks, as no player had more than 2 fouls. On the other hand, every player from the Tigers had at least 2 fouls.
Attention was quickly shifted to the other court, where the women's team was in a close affair with South Adelaide with just over a minute to play, trailing by 56-54. One of the only benefits of Marion stadium is the ability to watch 2 games at the same time when sitting in the middle seats. Did I say "one of"? It might be the only benefit…
Despite a pair of foul shots and an open 3-point attempt (it looked REALLY good from behind), the Blacks women failed to equalise, and South won it from the FT line, 58-54.
Results from tonight mean the men have secured a spot in the grand final, which will be played 7.50pm Pasadena on 17th September vs the winner of Southern/Woodville.
The women get a second chance, where they will be facing West Adelaide this upcoming Tuesday 10th September, game will be played 6.30 at Port Adelaide. The winner will go through to the grand final, also to be played at Pasadena in 2 weeks' time.
If you are still reading this far, then congratulations and thank you. If you are interested in some more Blacks finals, then join us tonight (Wednesday) back at the shed (@ Marion, in case you thought I meant Hillcrest - the penthouse) for another doubleheader with our division 2 teams. The women start with an elimination final against Southern at 6.30, followed up the men at 7.30, completing our rivalry round with the feisty tigers.
BLACKS MEN DEFEAT SOUTHERN TIGERS 91-59 (T Summers 26, T Lightheart 18, L Hunter 14)
BLACKS WOMEN DEFEATED BY SOUTH ADELAIDE PANTHERS 58-54 (D Bator 14, S Franceschinis 10, A Winter 8
T Summers: 26 points, 6x3-pointers, one knee to the balls.
J Warnock: 7 points, 1 sexy and1 finish, lots of pre-game dunks
C Warnock: 1 big swat on the backboard, 1 (more) brick 3-pointer
H Minear: 4 points, making defences pay on his mid-range jumpshots, 1x appreciation letter from Doyle.
T Lightheart: 18 points, 5xFTM, wet jumpshot.
M Rogers: 8 points, plenty of trash talking under his breath, even more moving screens.
L Cotton: 4 points, really long arms, lots of defensive deflections and pokes.
L Hunter: 14 points, multiple blocks, inflicting shadows into the mind of the Southern guards
A Zhang: 8 points, sweet follow through hold on his jumpshot, lots of money from the Lannisters (div 1's) - seriously @Chris McMichael you said we would pay him double to stay with us ??!?
M Wensley: Back-to-back div 1 winter season grand final appearances as coach, no hat throws, no tech fouls (tonight, can't confirm for the season).
A Yeganeh/D Williams: sacrificing on the scorebench, putting their f**g hands up, funding the bank accounts of Zambrero's staff.
By Scott Chislett