The VYC Cobras have tipped-off their 2021 Big-V campaign, with the Women going 2-0 while the Men split their opening weekend doubleheader.
Claire Knight’s Women enjoyed a dream start to 2021 – albeit with some opening night drama – as they squeezed out a thrilling one point win at home on Saturday night against the Southern Sabres before blowing out bitter rivals – the Knox Raiders – on the road on Sunday.
A rare leak due to heavy rain forced a delay at the end of the first quarter of Saturday’s opener, with a court change needed to complete the first half of action. The second half returned to Hugh McMenamin Court, with both teams finding an offensive groove late as this one headed down to the wire. The Cobras would find a defensive spark late though, with Georgia Booth and Mariah Derksen coming up huge to help seal a wild win at home.
Trailing, 56-58 with just over two minutes remaining, Booth made the play of the game for the Cobras, coming up with a key steal before launching an incredible full-court pass to a streaking Erin Burgoyne, who converted on the break to tie the game at 58. Following a handful of empty possessions, Derksen then scrambled to tip a cross-court pass, forcing a turnover with just 20 seconds remaining and giving Kilsyth a chance to win the game.
The Cobras would turn it over on the ensuing inbounds pass, though, but the Sabres gave it right back; and Nikita Young was fouled with just seven seconds remaining, splitting a pair from the line to give Kilsyth a one point lead. The Sabres potential game-winning play was snuffed out by Booth and Derksen, with Derksen stealing the inbounds pass and Young finishing on the break as time expired to seal a three point win at home.
Young led the Cobras with a game-high 16 points on Saturday night, while Booth added 13, four assists and three steals, and Bella Clark chipped in with 10 points in just 11 minutes.
Fatigue wasn’t an issue for the Cobras on Sunday, as they rode a first quarter explosion to blow out Knox, 87-52 on the road. The Cobras erupted out of the gates to take a 29-7 quarter time lead, and they rode that lead the rest of the way as they cruised to an 87-52 win. Clark led the way in extended minutes on Sunday, recording a 15-point, 12-rebound double-double and adding four assists in the win. Miranda Gartner matched Clark with a team-best 15 points, Sarah Haberfield added 11 points, and Derksen chipped-in with 10 points.
Zach Moult’s VYC Men also came up big at home on Saturday, with the Cobras overcoming a slow start to record an 87-76 win over the Sabres. Trailing 11-0 to start the game and 22-13 after one period of play, the Cobras finally got going in the second, riding strong play from Hamish MacDonald, Dyson Sumsion and Brad Heywood to take a 44-43 halftime lead. While the Cobras offence started to click, so too did the Sabres, who were unconscious from deep as they drained 13 three-pointers over the first three quarters of play. The Cobras defence would lock down late though, as they kept the Sabres without a three-point make in the final stanza to pull away with an 11 point win.
MacDonald (23 points, nine rebounds, six steals, three dunks), Heywood (19 points, five rebounds, three assists) and Sumsion (18 points, three assists, three steals) were outstanding in the win, while Lachie Vandervorm (11 rebounds) came up big on the glass in crunch time. The Cobras opening win was dampened by the loss of captain Nick Feller and fellow starter, Eythan House, to injuries though, setting the stage for a challenging road matchup with Knox on Sunday.
Down four rotation players on Sunday, the Cobras couldn’t match an energised Knox team on the road, with a third quarter lapse proving to be the difference as they fell to the Raiders, 57-68. Tied at 29 late in the first half, the Raiders would close the period with a pair of triples and quickly build on that to start the second half, with the shorthanded Cobras unable to close the gap late as they fell to 1-1 on the season.
Heywood was a standout once again on Sunday as he recorded a game-high 20 points to go along with seven rebounds and four assists, while Tony Marchese added 11 points and five rebounds in defeat.
The Cobra Women and Men hit the road this weekend, taking on the Keilor Thunder on Sunday (1pm/3pm). They return home on Sunday March 28 as they play host to Hawthorn (Women) and Nunawading (Men).
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