Grand final berth for Knights
Knights stunned Barking Owls with a second-half onslaught on Tuesday that lifted them into a second consecutive grand final appearance in the men’s A-grade competition.
Owls and Knights faced off for a chance to qualify for next Friday’s decider, and early on it was the Owls that seemed destined to make yet another big one.
Veteran Justin Benson was superb for Owls, lifting his offensive impact in the absence of Shaun Rost, and his 15 points helped last season’s runners-up to an eight-point half-time advantage.
Chasing a 10th straight grand final berth, Owls were always going to be challenged in the second half by a side that loves to transition the ball at speed.
A lifted effort in defence caused turnovers and slowly, Knights worked their way back into the game.
Luke Maguire and Tyler Willmore had terrific impact and Tom Edwards brought great energy as the Knights stormed back into contention.
Entering the final four minutes, Owls led by a single point, and when Kyle Smith added a free throw, the advantage doubled.
Edwards missed a couple of freebies at the line but an offensive rebound from Kye Griffiths was put back in off the glass for an easy basket to tie things up.
Knights found themselves back at the line following an empty Owls trip down the floor, and Willmore edged his side ahead by the smallest of margins.
Owls had one last chance to pinch victory as young guard Arthur Jones drove strongly to the basket, but he was called for a charge and then a resulting technical foul, handing Knights a thrilling triumph.
McGuire was allowed too much freedom at the top of the arc, knocking down 14 points for the winners while Willmore (11) and Edwards (8) were also key parts of the defending premiers moving a step closer to successive titles.
The win carried even more significance given livewire twins Henry and Henrick Alforque were limited to 6 points combined.
Benson was at his best with a 23-point haul and a stack of rebounds as he tried to get the Owls home. However foul calls went against them late in the game and they were outscored in the second half by 10 points.
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