NBL 2014/15 Round 14: Cairns snatch second spot with win over injury riddled 'Cats

View image | gettyimages.com

Depleted by injury, the Perth Wildcats were simply outclassed by the Cairns Taipans on Friday night as the defending NBL champions have surrendered their second placing on the NBL ladder after Cairns defeated the ‘Cats 91-76 inside the Cairns Convention Centre.

Riding off big first and final quarters, the Taipans’ offensive was unstoppable with the team shooting 52% from the floor, including 45% from deep.

With their bench leading the way, Cairns were able to extinguish anything the Wildcats had left in them in the final quarter, exploding for a 33 point (to 16) outburst in the last ten minutes.

Torrey Craig (19 points, 5 rebounds) and Cameron Tragardh (18 points, 2 steals) led the way for the hot shooting home side, while Scottie Wilbekin chimed in with 15 of his own.

Head Coach Aaron Fearne obviously had a clear mindset heading into this match and that was to get his team to share the ball and find the open man whether it be down low or the extra pass to the three point line.

Craig then led from the front, with the forward opening up the second quarter with a personal 8-0 run which included back to back triples followed by a bucket under the rim.

Cairns managed 40 points inside the restricted area plus another 27 from beyond the arc. Perth however, shot nearly as well from the field, except struggled from downtown shooting a season low 4 of 19.

With the deep ball dropping for the Snakes, up stepped Shaun Bruce in the final term to seal the deal for the home side. With minimal scoring punch, Bruce had only handed out a handful of assists before coming alive in the final few minutes which included a very, very long three pointer as the shot clock expired while moments later a dribble drive to the bucket ended with success to put the margin completely out of reach.

With Matt Knight out injured due to a broken toe, Tom Jervis was inserted into the starting line-up and it seemed as though he didn’t miss a beat from when he started at the beginning of last season. 17 points, five rebounds and three blocks on 7-9FG shooting means that the ‘Cats didn’t need to worry about shuffling their rotations.

That however changed very quickly when Trever Gleeson inserted Earnest Ross into the game. He managed just 22 seconds before an Achilles injury stunted his chance at a heavier log of minutes and will now miss the remainder of the NBL season.

DeAndre Daniels then played 37 minutes and is continuously showing improvement notching 17 points, five rebounds and three assists.

Things went from bad to worse for the injury riddled visitors when Jermaine Beal went down with what looked to be a suspected knee injury. Fortunately he returned to the game and finished with 13 points on a disappointing 4-11FG shooting which included five tries from deep with no success.

Perth now head home to rest as many bodies as they possibly can before welcoming the resurgent Adelaide 36ers to the Perth Arena on the 16th of January. Cairns head south to Townsville in which they will do battle for the fourth and final time this season.

Cairns Taipans 91 (Craig 19, Tragardh 18, Wilbekin 15)

Perth Wildcats 76 (Jervis 17, Daniels 17, Wagstaff 13)

@ Cairns Convention Centre