Kilsyth Cobras (19-8) v Knox Raiders (15-12), Kilsyth Indoor Sports Centre, 7:30pm Saturday, Aug 14
Kilsyth’s seven game winning streak came to an abrupt halt against the Bendigo Braves last week. In what was a defensively-oriented match, the Braves strangled the Cobras into only 25 second-half points. This is impressive given that Bendigo have been more offensively-minded this year, averaging 88.9 points per game versus Kilsyth’s 80.0.
Knox on the other hand will be pleased with their victory over Brisbane last week. The Raiders came from 3 points down at three quarter time to storm home and win by 12. Moreover, if the defeat to Albury/Wodonga in round 20 is ignored, Knox has won seven of their last nine matches, with the only losses coming against Hobart and Kilsyth.
Fernandez Lockett managed only 3 points in 36:10 minutes against the Braves, so look for the swingman to bounce back this week. Ryan Bathie is the other danger; his 23 points against Bendigo accounted for 41.8% of Kilsyth’s entire score, and his average points per game is up to 17.0 over the last four games against his season average of 14.3.
While CJ Massingale remains crucial to the Raiders hopes of defending their title, the return to form of Lester Strong should have any opposition side worried at the moment. Strong had a match winning 41 points and 13 rebounds against Brisbane, as the Spartans struggled to find answers to his strength and quickness.
Matt O’Hea will be looking to have a major impact after a below-par effort last week. The point guard shot only 23.1% from the field and was 1-6 from three point land; an effort he won’t want to repeat this week.
If the match ups go the way we predict, Michael Hill might find himself with the time and space to create headaches for Kilsyth. Hill was one of the best for Knox the last time the sides met in round 16 with 19 points and 4 rebounds.
Key Match ups
Fernandez Lockett v Cam Rigby
For the second week in a row, Cam Rigby could find himself matched up against the best player on the opposition. While Rigby was solid on offence for Knox against Brisbane, he struggled to contain Ash Cannan at the other end early on, as Cannan had 10 first-quarter points. Let Lockett have that kind of freedom this week, and the Raiders could find themselves having to dig their way out of a much deeper hole.
CJ Massingale v Quincy Henderson
Henderson has put the stoppers on CJ when these two sides have met this year, keeping the Knox star to an average of only 17.5 points across the two games, well down on his season average of 25.1. But if CJ can find enough room to create and get plenty of support from his teammates, then Knox might come away with the chocolates.
Previous Meetings This Year
Kilsyth 70 def Knox 66 @ Knox
Kilsyth 83 def Knox 65 @ Kilsyth
Kilsyth have won both encounters this year. In round 16 Kilsyth lead all the way to win convincingly, but in round 2 the contest was much tighter, with only 4 points separating the teams at full time after scores were level at the half.
Across the two games, Knox have shot a poor 33.1 FG%, while Fernandez Lockett obviously enjoys playing against the Raiders, averaging 24 points and 9.5 boards in the two games this season.
These teams have a long history, with some observers likening it to the Carlton – Collingwood rivalry. This background and mutual respect is realised when they annually compete for the Ashes trophy and the Cystic-Fibrosis cup.
On a personal level, Kilsyth Head Coach Grant Wallace played for one year at Knox, and Knox Head Coach Graham Longstaff actually coached Wallace in 1987 and 1990 for the North-East Melbourne Arrows. The Arrows competed in the Continental Basketball Association, an early forerunner of the SEABL competition.
Kilsyth must see themselves as title contenders after beating the Supercats in Geelong only a fortnight ago, and the Cobras will be hurting from their loss to Bendigo last week. The best remedy to heal the pain from that loss will be to put arch-rival Knox to the sword in front of a parochial home crowd this week.
Knox on the other hand is finding form at the right time. The losses this year to the Cobras could give them added incentive to win, but will also be in the back of their mind when the sides hit the pine for the third time this year. So expect to see a typically tough, physical contest when one of the oldest SEABL rivalries continues on Saturday night.
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