The Kilsyth Cobra Men have tipped-off their NBL1 debut season in spectacular fashion, recoding a pair of victories over rivals Knox and the Basketball Australia Centre of Excellence on the weekend.
Making their regular season debut on Saturday night, the Cobras came from behind to defeat Knox, 70-67, in a thrilling showdown between two bitter rivals squaring-off for the first time in five years. Trailing by 13 points early on, the Cobras exploded for a 21-4 midway through the second period, sparked by the energetic play by new recruit, Peter Hooley. Hooley, sparked the Cobras early surge, scoring eight quick point on an array of spectacular finishes at the rim to put the Cobras ahead, 33-29 late in the first half.
The Cobras appeared ready to run away with the game as they pushed their lead out six late in the third period, but the Raiders responded with a 14-4 run of their own to take a four point lead with under four minutes remaining in regulation. Sean MacDonald pulled the Cobras to within two as he drove baseline to convert a tough double-clutch reverse layup, and the Felix von Hofe was fouled attempting a three on Kilsyth’s next offensive possession, with the sharpshooter draining all three free throws to put the Cobras ahead, 66-65 with 2:39 remaining.
Knox would respond with a James Hunter basket to go back on top, but Isaac Turner took control with a pair of huge plays late to seal the game for the Cobras. Turner found his way to the line for a pair of free throws to put the Cobras ahead by one with two minutes remaining, and then stole stole an errant pass and finished at the rim to push the lead to 70-67. Turner’s layup would put a wrap on the scoring, as Kilsyth held the Raiders to 0-4 shooting the rest of the way, with a last second desperation heave falling harmlessly short as the Cobras escaped with a key road win.
Hooley led the way for the Cobras with game-highs of 17 points and five assists; Turner added 13 points, Chris Patton chipped-in with 10 points, six rebounds and five assists, and Owen Odigie was a force on the glass, pulling down a game-high 14 rebounds in the win.
Justin Schueller’s Men backed up Saturday’s gritty performance with a strong offensive showing on Sunday, pulling away late to defeat the Basketball Australia Centre of Excellence, 93-88 at home. With the Cobras leading, 72-69 heading into the final stanza, Turner and Hooley took charge once again, with the backcourt duo combining for an 8-0 run to start the period to push the lead out to 11. A pesky CoE team would hang around, though, trimming the Cobra lead to six midway through the period, but a pair of big baskets by Tohi Smith-Milner and a fast break finish by Hooley pushed the Kilsyth lead out to 91-78 late, and they cruised the rest of the way to move to 2-0 on the season.
Turner lit up the CoE for a game-high 23 points, while Hooley impressed for the second straight game with a 17 point effort. Smith-Milner was a load down low, scoring 18 points and adding a game-high 13 rebounds, while Patton and von Hofe each added 11 in the win to round out an impressive performance by the starters.
The Cobras now enjoy a second round bye, and are back on home court on Saturday April 13 when they play host to the Bendigo Braves in a rematch of last year’s SEABL Semi Final.
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