Sonics’ and Railways Tigers’ big second halves ensured they each took victories in the 2023-24 Albany Basketball Association men’s A-grade competition’s return to fixtures on Tuesday night. After winning all 10 games heading into their fixture with second-placed Barking Owls, Sonics were pushed the whole way in a fast-paced game that bounced from end to end throughout. The Owls led by a point at the half but succumbed to Sonics’ ravenous defence, led by Mark Elentorio, at both ends of the floor in the second half as they went down 51-62. Sonics’ 32-22 second half steered them to an 11-point win and kept their perfect record intact. Elentorio’s active hands put the clamps on any Owls opponent that confronted him, seamlessly transitioning from defence to offence as he scored a game-high 21 points, including three threes. The Owls were dealt a severe blow with eight minutes to go when Gabriel Kent Ang had to leave the floor after entering foul trouble before a David Arthur jumper brought up a 10-point buffer which was Sonics’ biggest lead of the night. However, the Owls stayed within striking distance and had the chance to cut the deficit back to just six points with two minutes to go but James Watters and Justin Benson each missed both of their free throws. As Sonics drained the clock, the Owls were forced to start desperately fouling before running out of time to reel in the deficit. The first half was played at rapid speed and dominated by Kent Ang’s brutal physicality under the basket with 16 of his 19 points coming in the opening 20 minutes. The high-octane and physical battle brought the umpires together to caution both teams as tempers flared early in the first half. Arthur (19) was at his silky best early with 12 first-half points, while Kayden Collins contributed 14 points including two triples. Owls young star Evan Delbene facilitated most of their offence and scored 15 points, including two threes. The Tigers overcame a two-point half-time deficit to eclipse a spirited Raiders under-18 development side by nine points. Most of their baskets came from attacking the basket and plays within the paint, as all 15 of their field goals came from inside the perimeter. Tigers’ Ashton Henrickson (13) scored nine second-half points to help elevate his side to the 33-24 victory. Kobi Doust-Pamplin and Hugo Heuls chipped in with six points each for the Tigers. Natale Trichilo led the floor for the Raiders with a team-high nine points. North Albany Kangaroos kept their hopes of a top-four finish alive after defeating fourth-placed Ambassadors by 10 points. Kangaroos’ Beauden East dominated the floor with 20 points which included three triples while Drew Willcocks and Ben De Klerk chipped in with 11 points each. Ambassadors’ Todd Knuiman was the shining light for his side with 11 points. Denmark made light work of Griffins Crusaders with a 41-29 win led by Kye Griffiths who scored a game-high 19 points. Luke Wilson was Denmark’s other key avenue to the hoop with 13 points. Crusaders’ Jack Gleeson chipped in with a team-high eight points including two baskets from beyond the arc.