Hill, Santia propel Tigers in grand final
A veteran performance by centre Corey Hill combined with a stellar contribution from guard John Santia guided Tigers into yet another grand final, winning their preliminary final against reigning premiers Raiders under-18 development squad on Tuesday night.
Tigers qualified for their fifth Albany Basketball Association men’s A-grade decider in eight years after dispatching the young Raiders in the second half on their way to a 35-27 triumph.
Hill wound back the clock as he dominated under the basket at both ends, hauling in numerous rebounds to go with his eight vital points for the winners.
Santia was all class in the do-or- die final, calling on his vast experience to score a game-high 11 points and control the floor as his side eliminated the Raiders from the premiership race.
Tigers skipped out to an early lead before Raiders found their groove, key trio Matt Leary, Keanu Weeden and Tom Edwards helping them get back on level terms by half-time.
With less than 15 minutes remaining in the second half, Raiders led by two points after a Tom Edwards jump shot but a triple to Ben Polette and a basket to the hard-working Hill had Tigers back in front.
Tigers had wrested back control and went on a scoring spree in a matter of minutes as they opened up a game-winning margin. Hill’s outstanding work under the bucket continued and his three-point play were quickly followed by baskets to impressive forward Dean Gliosca and Santia as their lead grew to eight points.
Raiders tried desperately to get within striking distance but they kept coming up empty in their numerous trips down the floor as they went down by eight points.
Tigers coach Polette said his side were up for the fight and produced a terrific defensive effort.
“We had better intensity through the whole game,” he said.
“Our defensive effort was fantastic, we still struggled to score but rely on defence to help out there.”
Starting trio Santia (11), Gliosca (9) and Hill (8) were outstanding and Tigers shot at 60 per cent from the free-throw line.
Three-point shooting was an issue for the Raiders, going at 18 per cent, including two of 12 attempts in the second half, while they could only manage 11 points in the last half.
Leary led the Raiders with 10 points and Edwards chipped in with five but their scoring had dried up.
Raiders coach Darren Berry said his side never got going in offence.
“We were a bit too stagnant and our shot options were reduced,” Berry said.
“We were a bit off tonight, defensively we let them get second and third opportunities on rebounds.
“But they still made a preliminary finals competing against older players. It’s nothing to be upset about.”
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