The undermanned Kilsyth Cobras have stumbled in their SEABL regular season, losing on the road to the Albury-Wodonga Bandits, 89-104, on Saturday night.
Saturday’s game was always going to be a monumental task for the Cobras, who were without Dane Pineau, Sam Daly, Felix von Hofe (NBL commitments) and Owen Odigie (injury) for their trip up to the border. And the Bandits took advantaged of the opportunity presented to them from the get-go, racing out to a big first half lead and increasing then gap to as many as 26 points midway through the third period.
The Cobras would continue to fight, though, with Chris Patton and Ben Ursich sparking a late comeback attempt as they trimmed the deficit to 11 points on several occasions midway through the final stanza. But playing with incredible confidence in front of their hometown fans, the Bandits had an answer for every late Cobras push, with veteran guard Deba George keeping Kilsyth at bay as he drained a trio of tough, heavily contested buckets.
While the Cobras were long shots to come away with a win on Saturday, there were some encouraging signs late in the game for coach Justin Schueller’s team, with Kilsyth playing some high-quality basketball while experimenting with some seldom-used rotations.
“With four guys out we knew it was going to be a challenging night,” Schueller said.
“We won the second half which was great, but our effort in the first half let us down.”
Isaac Turner led the way once again for the Cobras, recording a team-high 22 points, while Patton finished with one of his best all-around performances of the season as he added 15 points, 11 rebounds and five assists. Ursich was solid once again, finishing with 14 points, Sean MacDonald scored 12 points in a starting role, and Desmond Owili (eight rebounds) and Corey Jeffs impressed in extended minutes, totalling 10 points apiece.
The loss saw the Cobras fall into a three-way tie for the SEABL’s top record at 15-5, with the league’s tiebreaker system giving Kilsyth the league’s number two seed heading into the postseason. That means the Cobras will face-off against the third placed Hobart Chargers in a first round playoff matchup, a game set to be played at home this Saturday night as part of a blockbuster SEABL doubleheader.
Hobart finished the regular season with seven straight wins, entering next weekend as the league’s hottest team and boasting explosive offensive personnel. But the Cobras are set to return to full health for Saturday’s game, setting the scene for a spectacular opening to the 2018 playoffs.
“Our focus quickly shifts to Hobart this weekend, and we’re looking forward to the matchup with them,” Schueller added.
“It will be great to have our full team back, something we haven’t been able to do for a while.”
“We encourage our fans to get along and be as loud as possible!”
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