Crocs come through in the clutch

Blalock the hero as late bas­ket sinks Perth and seals play- off spot

Townsville Bulletin - - Bizfi Nd - by Andrew Aloia andrew. aloia@ townsville­bul­letin. com. au

‘‘ BREATH­TAK­ING’’.

That’s the only word Will Blalock could find to de­scribe the thrilling one-point wi n o v e r P e r t h a t T h e Swamp last night that sealed the Croc­o­diles’ place in the NBL play-offs.

In the fi­nal 1 minute 27 sec­onds the Amer­i­can point guard went from vil­lain to hero in the 72-71 tri­umph, hav­ing first squan­dered a cru­cial pos­ses­sion only to drain the win­ning points.

It was a stir­ring dis­play t hat evoked what Crocs c o a c h T r e v o r G l e e s o n la­belled the loud­est noise to ever come out of the Townsville En­ter­tain­ment Cen­tre.

Atone­ment in such dra­matic cir­cum­stances, and with the win putting the rep­tiles back into sec­ond place on the lad­der ahead of Perth, was a beau­ti­ful thing for Blalock.

‘‘ It was breath­tak­ing man,’’ Blalock said.

‘‘ It was an amaz­ing ef­fort by the play­ers, coaches and the crowd. We just got a huge lift from the crowd in the sec­ond half and we rose with it.’’

It was enough to in­spire Blalock to put a po­ten­tially sea­son-crip­pling turnover be­hind him and take re­spon­si­bil­ity of the game on his shoul­der with his next pos­ses­sion.

‘‘ I threw about five of them away to­day, but at crunch time it hurts even more be-

‘‘ So I took it upon my­self to g o . ’ ’ B l a l o c k a n d P e t e r Craw­ford com­bined from the get-go to set a scorch­ing tempo which would de­fine the game.

Craw­ford laid the foun­da­tions for the win with 11 of his game-high 17 points in the open­ing pe­riod.

Perth’s Brad Rob­bins was at his pesky best in the open­ing term, ar­rest­ing the vis­i­tors’ early trou­bles with his re­lent­less pres­sure on the ball, com­ing up with two of his side’s four steals in the first stanza.

While Townsville were be­ing forced into 11 first-half turnovers and their main weapon, Luke Schen­scher, was re­stricted to six points from the char­ity stripe, the Crocs took Perth on with more as­sur­ance than they have all sea­son. In the third pe­riod, how­ever, f ormer C r o c C a m T o v e y t o o k cen­trestage, hit­ting 10 of 15 points to man­han­dle mo­men­tum back for the vis­i­tors.

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