NBL 2013/14: SF Game 1 - ‘Cats strike first in enthralling contest

The Perth Wildcats have overcome a slow start to secure a 12 point win over the Wollongong Hawks in Game 1 Friday night, 91-79. Despite what may have been a sloppy first half from both teams, the second twenty minutes certainly disappoint any NBL fan. With the game including nearly anything and everything, it was the sheer star power in the game which made it worth watching. James Ennis overcame a disappointing first half, failing to register a field goal, to finish with a game high 25 points and nine rebounds in another potential MVP effort. He was helped out tremendously by Shawn Redhage (12 points, 5 rebounds, 2 blocks) and Tom Jervis (14 points, 5 rebounds) who proved to be way too big for the Hawks. Rotnei Clarke was not to be shunned out of the spotlight however, rallying his boys back into the contest during the third and final periods with his blistering shooting display. Clarke (23 points, 4 assists) was joined behind the arc by teammate and Captain Oscar Forman (18 points, 5 rebounds, 6-8 three pointers) in their joint venture to steal the tie and head home with an advantage. They nearly did too, coming back from a 14 point deficit to just three points with minutes remaining. The pair’s ten triples between them, the driving force that pulled back the margin. However, Ennis and Jesse Wagstaff (11 points, 7 rebounds) had their own three point show of their own down the other end of the floor, which was able to slow Wollongong’s momentum at times. Credit: Joel Armstrong |

Wollongong Hawks It wasn’t until a questionable unsportsmanlike foul was called on Tyson Demos who fouled a charging James Ennis on a fastbreak which turned the game. The Hawks’ momentum came to a halt and the Wildcats’ poise was enough to use the clock to slowly extend the lead once again. Despite desperate attempts from Rhys Martin (11 points, 3 steals) and Kevin Tiggs (12 points, 4 rebounds), both who had been invaluable during the first three quarters, the Hawks were unable to turn the near double digit margin around again, with Perth’s Matty Knight rubbing salt into the wounds with a last second shot-clock heave which banked in to finish as the final scores. While Clarke was simply exhilarating in the second half, his streaky shooting (among others) was the reason the team coughed up their early lead before Perth stormed back on a 12-0 run. Offensive rebounds were also a major problem for the Hawks, allowing the home side 15 second chances which resulted in 13 points. Wollongong will now look to lick their wounds as they head home for Sunday’s clash, and will need a four quarter effort from every player if they are to force a third game. Perth Wildcats 91 (Ennis 25, Jervis 14, Redhage 12) Wollongong Hawks 79 (Clarke 23, Forman 18, Tiggs 12) Attendance: 10,907 @ Perth Arena

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