Ambassadors easy prey for unstoppable Owls

Cameron NewboldAlbany Advertiser
Ambassadors' Pieter Coetzee flies high on his way to the basket as Barking Owls' Brody Hickey defends.
Camera IconAmbassadors' Pieter Coetzee flies high on his way to the basket as Barking Owls' Brody Hickey defends. Credit: Laurie Benson

Barking Owls produced one of the most clinical finals performances in recent Albany Basketball Association men’s A-grade history, thrashing Ambassadors by 34 points on Tuesday night to continue their amazing run of grand final appearances.

Owls’ two youngest members were the main destroyers in the one-sided preliminary final, as Kyle Smith and Arthur Jones combined for 30 points in the last half.

The result was a staggering 10th straight grand final berth for Owls, who now go in search of a third premiership in that time, having lost the past three deciders.

Owls took the lead in the opening minutes and never looked like losing the advantage as a shaky, nervous and misfiring Ambassadors outfit lacked any real punches.

Albany basketball doyen Justin Benson did what he’s done so many times before, as his offensive impact early on lifted Owls to an 18-point half-time advantage.

Benson had 13 points to lead all scorers at half-time and, fresh off dropping a career-best 52 points a fortnight ago, Smith was at times irresistible in the front court.

Owls had quickly moved the margin into double figures, Smith was rolling with nine first-half points and they had hit six of six free throws to suggest it was going to be their night.

Ambassadors' Todd Knuiman shoots.
Camera IconAmbassadors' Todd Knuiman shoots. Credit: Albany Advertiser

The first five minutes of the second all but sealed the deal as Owls went on a 10-4 run and began to turn their attention to another blockbuster clash with Knights.

Ryan Barber, a barometer for Ambassadors this season, finally hit the scoreboard eight minutes into the last half and his team seemed rattled for a large part of the game.

They gave up simple turnovers, Caleb Carmen fouled out of the game with seven minutes left and they collectively shot woefully — a three point percentage of 18 (four of 22) didn’t read well.

Smith was superb as he tore the Ambassadors apart with 28 points in a coming-of-age finals effort, while partner-in-crime Jones added 13 points, 11 of which came in the second half.

Barking Owls' Justin Benson takes on Ambassadors' Caleb Carman.
Camera IconBarking Owls' Justin Benson takes on Ambassadors' Caleb Carman. Credit: Albany Advertiser

Brody Hickey (12 points) and Benson (17) also reached double figures, setting up a grand final replay with Knights.

“Our intensity was really good tonight,” Benson said post-match.

“It will be the two best sides, who both have very good strengths, but they force their style of game on you.

“We are quite a bit bigger than them but they are younger and quicker so we need to slow it down and have less possessions.

“Kyle and Arthur give us great balance, especially since the loss of Shaun (Rost) and Hammer (Hamish McMorran).”

Carmen (14) and Todd Knuiman (11) led the way for Ambassadors in heavy 44-78 defeat.

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