THE Kennedy’s Tours Shoalhaven Tigers remain on top of the Waratah League division two youth men’s ladder, after winning a nail biter (77-76) against the Illawarra Hawks on Saturday.
(min cost $8)
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The Tigers jumped out to a 6-nil lead early at the Den, before the visitors settled.
The star of the first quarter was forward Jeremy Harding, who scored at will for the hosts, while former Tiger Sean Quinn and Andrew Gray starred for the Hawks – as the cubs led 27-23 after one.
Riley O’Shannessy, Brendan Sampson and Brayden Morris all kept the Tigers in front in the second before costly turnovers by the hosts saw the Hawks hit the lead for the first time.
But a number of solid fast break points to finish the term saw the hosts lead by two points (43-31) at the main break.
On the back of guards Luke Smith and Josh Watts and sharp shooter Kyle Leslie, the cubs stretched their lead out to 11 points midway through the third quarter – only for the Hawks to claw their way back.
Just when it appeared the Hawks would go into the final term with a four point lead, Leslie hit an off-balance three pointer as time expired, to reduce the deficit to just one (64-63).
The fourth quarter saw both teams trade blows, in a highly entertaining game of hoops.
The hosts appeared in trouble when Harding and O’Shannessy fouled out within two minutes of each other.
But Balsar called on Leslie and Tim Balzer to fill the void and both answered the call.
Scores were tied going into the final minute, before Watts put the hosts up by two – only for Gray to return with a three pointer for the Hawks.
Down by one, Balsar’s team ran their baseline play, which led to Leslie hitting a turn-around floater, with four seconds remaining, to give the black and gold a 77-76 lead.
Opposition coach Mick Cranney called a time-out, to give his team one last chance to steal victory but the cubs managed to hold the Hawks out in the final four seconds, to secure the one point win – moving their record to 15-1 on the season.
“It was a quality game with a grand final atmosphere – it had our supporters on the edge of their seats all game,” Balsar said.
“The Hawks are a quality team, with solid size and plenty of depth.
“For us to get this win was not only huge for our record but for these boys who have played in the shadow of the Hawks throughout their junior careers.
“I’m super proud of them all.”
Harding (17) top scored, being supported by Sampson (14), Leslie (13), Morris (12) and O’Shannessy (11).
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