Heat cling to lead as Metro hit back

Townsville Bulletin - - SPORT - TRENT SLAT­TER trent. slat­ter@ news. com. au

THE Townsville Heat have e sur­vived a fourth- quar­ter r lapse to beat South Westst Metro 92- 89 in their QBL quar­ter- fi­nal at Townsville Bas­ket­ball Sta­dium.

The Heat looked well in n con­trol as they led by 21 points early in the fi­nal quar­rter be­fore South West guard Jeremy Ken­dle ( 31 points, 10 re­bounds) sparked his side’s stun­ning fight­back.

Ken­dle dropped 18 points in the fourth quar­ter alone as the vis­i­tors drew level twice be­fore a pair of free throws from Peter Craw­ford ( 15 points) just be­fore the buzzer saw Townsville home.

Point guard Josh Wilcher was im­mense for the Heat with 27 points, five re­bounds, and seven as­sists, but it was im­port Jamell An­der­son ( 10 points, 6 re­bounds) who set the tone early.

An­der­son failed to re­turn in the sec­ond half as he suc­cumbed to an ab­dom­i­nal strain and Heat coach Rod­ney An­der­son felt his ab­sence was a big fac­tor in Townsville’s late strug­gles.

“We played so well for the first three quar­ters and just let them get back into the game which gave them a lit­tle bit of con­fi­dence and en­ergy,” he said.

“I thought we con­trolled the game al­most right from start and stuck it to them in de­fence which helped us get ev­ery­thing rolling.

“Jamell An­der­son was def­i­nitely the guy who led us in en­ergy and set the tone de­fen­sively and the rest of guys jumped on his back, but he didn’t play sec­ond half due to ab­dom­i­nal strain.

“That didn’t help us be­cause he was play­ing such great ‘ D’ on Jeremy Ken­dle and held him to eight points at half­time, but it was just good to see our lead­er­ship group come up with some big plays.

“South West are a good team and they were al­ways go­ing to make a run at us. It shouldn’t have got that close, but I’m re­ally proud we dug in and got the win even though let a big lead slip.”

The Heat now have a date with archri­vals Cairns in Townsville next week­end and the coach was hope­ful Jamell An­der­son will be fit to take the floor.

“He’s get­ting a scan to­mor­row just in case, but he’s pretty con­fi­dent he’ll play,” An­der­son said.

Mean­while, the sea­son is over for the Townsville Flames af­ter go­ing down to Glad­stone 78- 74. The Flames were with­out MVP Darcee Garbin for Satur­day’s fi­nal, but they were still up for the con­test as the lead changed hands an in­cred­i­ble 15 times in the first half.

Glad­stone pulled away to be in front by 10 points early in the fourth quar­ter be­fore the Flames came storm­ing back to tie the game with just over a minute left, but they couldn’t fin­ish it off.

Mia Murray ( above) has been bat­tling a back in­jury all sea­son, but the WNBL star was sen­sa­tional as she dropped 32 points, in­clud­ing 8/ 11 threes, along with eight re­bounds.

Flames coach Mike StMau­rice said Glad­stone made the most of chances.

“It was a great bat­tle and I have a lot of re­spect for Ray ( Cooper, Glad­stone coach) and his group, but I guess when it mat­tered most, they made some shots,” StMau­rice said.

THRILLER: Townsville Heat im­port Justin Baker goes to the hoop. Pic­ture: WES­LEY MONTS

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