Three teams left to fight for one last finals spot
The Farm Athletics, Crabs and Tigers are left to fight out fourth position with just one round left of the Albany Basketball Association men’s A-grade season following an intriguing penultimate round on Tuesday night.
Farm Athletics needed every last minute of their clash with the Raiders under-18 development squad to ensure they held onto fourth place going into the final round.
Raiders led by three points late in the second half but Farm Athletics scored the final six points of the game to snatch a tense four-point win, improving their record to 7-7.
Free throws from David Arthur, Jeff Fitzpatrick and Red Rogers gave Farm Athletics the advantage back, then a field goal from big man Kalin Lane sealed the 51-47 result.
Lane (17 points) was the dominant force in his side’s seventh win that has them two points ahead of Crabs and Tigers in the standings going into round 16.
Nine points from Fitzpatrick also helped the winners, along with the contribution of Callum Bolsher (8).
Recently named WA Country under-18s member Tyler Willmore was superb for Raiders with 19 points and a stack of rebounds.
Ambassadors sealed their place in the finals with a gutsy two-point win over Barking Owls in their round 15 encounter.
A first-half flurry of 10 points from Ambassadors’ Caleb Carmen helped them open up a 10-point buffer by half-time as Owls struggled without the presence of Shaun Rost.
Owls failed to make any inroads on the margin in the first 10 minutes of the second half but they slowly crept back into the match on the back of veteran Justin Benson.
Benson lifted his input in offence to pull the deficit back, but when David Gill sank a basket, it appeared Ambassadors would get home at 47-40.
Young guard Arthur Jones hit a triple and Benson followed suit with 1.35 left on the clock as all of a sudden Ambassadors were under pressure.
Benson then fouled Coen Jackman, deemed an intentional foul, and the youngster hit one of his two shots to push the lead back to two points.
The inbound pass from Ambassadors was turned over and, in transition, the ball came to Benson but his three-point attempt on the buzzer rimmed out to hand Ambassadors a narrow 48-46 win. Todd Knuiman was outstanding with 15 points and was well supported by Ryan Barber (9) as the result ensured their side was safe in the top four.
Benson (14) and Jones (11) both reached double figures for Owls who, despite suffering a third loss of the season, will earn a finals double chance.
Crabs won a tight contest over Kinjarling Thunder, 40-38, to remain a finals hope and Tigers went down by four points to ladder-leaders Knights.
That leaves Crabs and Tigers on 28 points, both needing nothing less than a win in the final round along with a Farm Athletics loss to have a hope of squeezing back inside the top four.
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