Crabs claw back up table in finals quest

Cameron NewboldAlbany Advertiser
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Crabs' Danial Abbott takes on Raiders' Ben Brown.
Camera IconCrabs' Danial Abbott takes on Raiders' Ben Brown. Credit: Laurie Benson/Albany Advertiser

Nine second-half free throws from the vastly experienced Danial Abbott have helped Crabs continue their surge back towards the top four as they eye an unlikely finals berth in the Albany Basketball Association A-grade competition.

Crabs won their first game of the season before losing their next five matches and after their round 11 loss to The Farm Athletics, had crashed to the foot of the table.

However, in the past fortnight, Crabs have simply found a way to get across the line and it was their ability to draw fouls and regularly get to the free-throw line in an absorbing second half that were vital in Tuesday night’s gripping one-point win over the Raiders under-18 development squad.

Crabs' Hunter Richards gets around Raiders' Henrick Alforque.
Camera IconCrabs' Hunter Richards gets around Raiders' Henrick Alforque. Credit: Albany Advertiser

In an ever-changing round 13 contest, Crabs controlled much of the first half and played terrific defence to contain the usually slick Raiders offensive unit.

Henry Alforque had seven of his side’s first nine points and the silky-smooth guard was up to eight by half-time, but his side still trailed 13-18.

The second half began and it was Henrick Alforque who had an immediate impact as he hit the first five points of the period, and then Henry chimed in to quickly hand Raiders the lead.

Abbott, who had been busy in the opening half, began to call on his years of knowledge and was fouled on what seemed like every drive into the keyway.

Raiders' Calum Dixon looks to score as Crabs' Danial Abbott moves in.
Camera IconRaiders' Calum Dixon looks to score as Crabs' Danial Abbott moves in. Credit: Albany Advertiser

Four trips to the foul line and Abbott had wrestled back the advantage for his side and Raiders were already over their team-foul limit with in more thanexcess of 10 minutes to play — a headache in itself for the young brigade.

In contrast to the first half, when they were hesitant to shoot and sluggish in transition, Raiders cranked things up a gear as the Alforque twins led the revival.

Starting centre Flynn Wauters hit two important free throws, which were followed by a Coen Jackman field goal, and then Henrick Alforque was successful with one of two attempts at the line as the Raiders found themselves three points up.

Raiders' Henrick Alforque drives to the basket as Crabs' Wade Eskett defends.
Camera IconRaiders' Henrick Alforque drives to the basket as Crabs' Wade Eskett defends. Credit: Albany Advertiser

The final four points came from Crabs, as Abbott came up with yet another trip to the line, purely dealing in free throws in the second half, before two clutch frees from Jayden Scott — as the game ticked into the final 60 seconds — sealed the result.

Abbott finished with 14 valuable points and his presence grew in the 36-35 win, while Wade Eskett (8 points) and Jayden Scott (6) were also important contributors as their side shot at 68 per cent from the line, including 12 of 16 in the second half.

Henry (14) and Henrick Alforque (10) did the bulk of Raiders’ scoring, but their team could not string enough solid minutes together.

Crabs now join Tigers and the Farm Athletics on 24 points and leapfrog Kinjarling Thunder as they storm back into top-four contention.

In the other matches, Knights made it 11 straight wins, downing the Thunder by nine points while Ambassadors fought off a strong challenge from Farm Athletics to triumph by 11 points and almost guarantee a finals berth.

Justin Benson returned to his scoring form with 26 points in Barking Owls’ 63-48 victory over Tigers.

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