Pearson haul propels Crabs to big finish
A superb 28-point haul from the hand of in-form Crabs guard Zac Pearson sunk the Tigers in the final round of the regular season on Tuesday night, as the top four sides remained the same as they were at the beginning of round 16.
Crabs, already eliminated from the finals race, had the bare five players, as did their opponents, in the men’s A-grade clash and it certainly was not the best spectacle to watch but Crabs fought and scrapped their way to a three-point win.
Fresh from helping Albany win another men’s title at the country championships, Pearson was outstanding with a season-high 28 points, which was more than half of Tigers’ total score.
After a slow start, Pearson worked his way to 12 points by half-time and then exploded in the second half with two long-range baskets and vital field goals as Crabs firstly chewed into the deficit and then eventually hit the lead.
Tigers led by four points at the break with all five players on the scoresheet but the defending premiers simply could not shake Crabs in the second half.
Crabs levelled scores on the back of Pearson’s work and he put them in front entering the final three minutes of play.
Tigers tried desperately from outside the arc to snatch the advantage back but not even a late triple from Corey Ward could do that as they fell short, 40-43.
Pearson’s effort bettered his 20-point game against Ambassadors earlier this season, while Danial Abbott (8 points) was also influential in the win, which helped their side finish in fifth place.
Luckily for Tigers, the ramifications were not as bad as they could have been, as they clung to second place by percentage to grab a double chance in the finals and set up a semifinal with Knights.
Tigers will need to be far better than their final-round performance, however, coughing up a lead and shooting four of 21 long-range attempts, which ended a less than convincing month where they also lost to Barking Owls and just got over bottom side Kinjarling Thunder.
Injured leader Tim Button was absent along with star guard John Santia, but their side were predictable in offence and lacked a damaging player such as Pearson.
Corey Hill (12) and Dean Gliosca (9) led the scoring in their fourth loss of the season.
Meanwhile, Owls’ 14-point triumph over Ambassadors was not enough to dislodge Tigers in second place, falling more than 10 per cent short in the end despite finishing with the same win-loss record.
Den/Albany Spartans, the only side capable of knocking Ambassadors out of fourth place, slipped up when they went down to an energetic Raiders under-18 development squad by seven points.
Keanu Weeden hit 13 points and Henry Alforque chipped in with 11 as they won 50-43.
Thunder finished the season on a high, winning their first game since joining the competition as they prevailed 34-31 over Pelicans.
Jackson Shaw was impressive again with 10 points and Tyrice Brown nailed 12 points.
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