The Cobra Men have split their Round 13 road doubleheader, blowing out Geelong on Saturday before falling to Sandringham in a one-point heartbreaker on Sunday.
The Cobras were at their spectacular best on Saturday, riding a blistering start and monster fourth quarter from Isaac Turner to beat the Geelong Supercats, 95-78. Kilsyth exploded out of the gates, racing out to a 40-15 lead behind 12 early points from Ben Ursich. But facing a Supercats team battling for a playoff berth, the Cobras saw Geelong chip away at their 25 point deficit, pulling to within 63-70 early in the final period.
With the Supercats looking poised to complete a monumental comeback, Turner caught fire in a spectacular fourth quarter scoring display, erupting for 15 points in a five minute stretch to singlehandedly keep Geelong at bay. They electrifying guard was simply unstoppable, scoring on a variety of tough jumpers and acrobatic finishes inside to keep Geelong at bay.
Turner finished the game with a game-high 22 points and added four assists, while Ursich was outstanding yet again in a starting role, recording 20 points and three steals in the win. Big men Chris Patton (14 points, 11 rebounds, five assists) and Dane Pineau (10 points, five rebounds, five assists) were a force inside for the Cobras, while backup Sean MacDonald had his best SEABL game to date, scoring a career-high 18 points off the bench.
Cobras interim head coach Mark Watkins was impressed with his team’s focus and intensity heading into Saturday’s game, one which saw them exact revenge on the Supercats having dropped an overtime thriller to them at home two weeks prior.
“The boys were fired up for the game against Geelong and wanted revenge from the loss at home in overtime,” Watkins said.
“We made a few scout changes and opened the game well. The boys moved the ball well and limited their offence, and we had contributions from everyone which was pleasing.”
Facing Sandringham on the back-end of their weekend doubleheader, the Cobras were unable to complete a Round 13 sweep as they fell to the Sabres, 79-80.
Trailing by five with just over two minutes remaining, Desmond Owili and Sam Daly connected on back-to-back buckets to pull the Cobras to within 77-78 with 90 seconds left on the clock. But a pair of empty possessions by the Cobras saw them unable to take the lead late, and the Sabres Anthony Odunsi buried a pair of free throws with 15 seconds remaining to make it a three point game.
Kilsyth opted for a quick two, and Owili cleaned up a Daly miss to make it a one point game with seven seconds remaining, but the Cobras were unable to foul to prolong the game as the Sabres dribbled out the clock to complete the upset victory.
While the Cobras will look at this game as one that got away, to even have a chance under the circumstances they faced was an impressive feat. With fatigue clearly a factor facing their second road game in less than 24 hours, the Cobras were also without Patton, who injured his ankle the night prior, and fellow starter Owen Odigie, who continues to battle through a nagging shoulder injury. To compound the Cobras problems, sharpshooter Felix von Hofe fouled out in the third quarter, leaving the team without three of its key players during crunch time.
“It was a disappointing loss to Sandringham, but a tough battle without Chris or Owen and with Felix fouled out in the third quarter,” Watkins said.
“It’s a lesson learnt in staying tight during adversity and sticking to our rules.”
Turner again led Kilsyth with a game-high 22 points, while Daly and Owili finished with 16 and 12 points, respectively. Von Hofe added 10 points before fouling out, while Ursich and Pineau combined for 20 rebounds in the loss.
The Cobras record now stands at 14-4, keeping them atop the SEABL standings with two games remaining in the regular season. They’ll look to inch closer to securing the league’s top seed come playoff time when they travel to Frankston to take on the Blues on Saturday night (8.30pm). A Cobras win coupled with a loss by Nunawading this weekend would see Kilsyth clinch the league’s top record with a game remaining.
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