The race for fourth spot in the South Conference
Although positions are still to be determined, the top three spots in the South Conference will be taken by Mt. Gambier, Bendigo and N-W Tasmania. That leaves fourth place still available but with just two rounds remaining, Hobart (9-13), Kilsyth (8-12) and Sandringham (8-14) are all stumbling their way towards the finish line.
Splitting Round 16, Hobart recorded an important victory over the Sabres on Saturday night before falling to Bendigo the following day. Their 15-point win against Sandringham was set up by a 30-18 opening term while all five starters scored 11+ and they shot 13-26 from the three-point line as a team.
Although they were no match for the Braves, losing by 12 points, Tiri Masunda (14 points, six rebounds and five assists per game over the weekend) and BJ Radcliffe (16 point average) made their desire for playoff basketball known.
Thanks to their big win over the Sabres, Hobart now own the head-to-head advantage should they finish on the same amount of wins. However, they must overcome a 22-point defeat to the Cobras from Round 3 in a season-defining clash for both sides next weekend in Tasmania.
Kilsyth have lost three straight games, ceding fourth position to the Chargers after going down to Bendigo by three points in overtime on Saturday night. The gallant effort unfortunately counts for nothing after Gerard Leonard missed a shot on the buzzer to take the game into a second extra period.
Just a win behind Hobart on the ladder, the Cobras have the added bonus of having played two less matches than both the Chargers and Sabres while they should take the head-to-head results against both teams unless disaster strikes next weekend.
That lighter schedule does mean they have two back-to-backs in the final two rounds though, taking on the Tasmanian road trip in Round 17 before playing Geelong and Ballarat in Round 18. Of those four opponents, only Ballarat are not a current finalist but their offensive power will certainly provide a challenge for Kilsyth.
Sandringham's run home has been made very difficult with the loss of import Junior Hairston, who fractured his foot in a season-ending injury in Round 14. He led them in points (16.1) and rebounds (9.9) per game and his team have lost eight of their past nine games.
Following their most recent loss to the Chargers, the Sabres must now rely on the other contenders to lose games while beating Albury-Wodonga and Dandenong themselves in the final two rounds.
This task will be close to impossible given their recent form but they can take confidence from Hobart and Kilsyth's similarly poor form which has seen them win a combined two games from their past nine.