Spartans’ heroics put pressure on top four

Cameron NewboldAlbany Advertiser

Den/Albany Spartans have produced an impressive come-from-behind win to keep their season alive while leaving opponents Ambassadors vulnerable in fourth spot heading into the final regular round in Albany Basketball Association men’s A-grade competition.

In one of the best games of the season, Spartans wrestled the lead back off Ambassadors early in the second half and went on to notch a five-point win, which had major ramifications on the top four.

The victory left Spartans two points and percentage adrift of Ambassadors going into the last game of the normal season while eliminating Crabs and Raiders under-18 development in the process.

Percentage might be the only thing to save Ambassadors from falling out of the top four in the last round given they face Barking Owls, as they hold a 13 per cent advantage over Spartans.

Ambassadors' Kye Griffiths gets down court.
Camera IconAmbassadors' Kye Griffiths gets down court. Credit: Albany Advertiser

Ambassadors could have easily locked away fourth place in the round 15 contest, leading multiple times in a ripping first half where the two sides were locked in a shootout on the offensive end.

Seven three-pointers were sunk between the two teams in the opening half but Spartans took a narrow two-point advantage into the break.

Ambassadors hit back and were in front briefly, before Spartans took control as centre Sam Baddeley-Holmes became a major factor and shooting guard Hunter Richards again hit top gear.

Baddeley-Holmes was having a huge presence under the glass and Richards dropped two superb long-range baskets to stretch Spartans advantage to 14 points.

Ambassadors' Todd Knuiman is held up by Spartans' Hunter Richards.
Camera IconAmbassadors' Todd Knuiman is held up by Spartans' Hunter Richards. Credit: Albany Advertiser

Caleb Carmen had been quiet for much of the match but he and Kye Griffiths got their side rolling in offence once again and when Stuart Roberts pinched the ball right from Ambassadors as they inbounded it was all of sudden back to three points.

But like he did last week Richards ensured a Spartans win as he was fouled in the dying seconds and hit two resulting free throws to see his side prevail, 48-43, and keep their finals hopes alive.

Richards was at his brilliant best again with 16 points while Baddeley-Holmes (10 points) was superb at both ends and Taj Williams (eight) showed glimpses of his talents.

Spartans' Sam Baddeley-Holmes.
Camera IconSpartans' Sam Baddeley-Holmes. Credit: Albany Advertiser

Todd Knuiman led the way with 10 points for Ambassadors, Jaylen Beattie nailed a trio of three pointers and Griffiths (nine) battled manfully despite being well outsized by the Spartans’ bigs.

Amazingly, 13 triples were scored in the match, with Spartans successful on six-of-13 shooting from outside the arc while they went at 56 per cent from the free throw line.

In contrast, Ambassadors were left to rue their poor shooting from the line, hitting three of 12 attempts in the second half while they went at 37 per cent from long range.

In other round 15 fixtures, Crabs were knocked out of the finals race with a 11-point loss to Owls while Tom Edwards (15) and Henrick Alforque (11) helped Knights overcome Raiders by nine points.

Tigers were lucky to escape with a win over Kinjarling Thunder, hanging on 37-35 in a result that more than likely stitched up a top-two spot.

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