Lions keep pressure on Devils
By CRAIG ROSScraigr@gladstoneobserver.com.au
A JOSH Gill-inspired Lions almost pulled off the upset of the season before bowing out 62-57 to favour-ites Devils in the Gladstone Amateur Basketball Association men's division one final on Saturday night . Supporters at Kev Broome Stadium were treated to a thrilling encounter in which the lead changed throughout the match, including a number of occasions in the final period.
Gill, a Gladstone junior who has returned to the city after a successful stint with the Mackay Meteors' ABA side, was in devastating touch.
He dominated at both ends of the court, slam-dunking two-pointers and floating three-pointers when not using explosive power to defuse opposition shots at goal.
However, Devils' big guns were also in fine form with Kane Macready dominant early and skipper Daniel Green and fellow Port City Power team-mate Glen Chapman landing three-point bombs at often crucial stages of the match.
Devils, boasting the skills and experience of several Power players, were expected to be too strong for Lions who struggled for much of the season.
However, they faced dogged resistance throughout the first two periods, claiming a 22-18 lead at the first break and extending their advantage marginally to six points (41-35) at halftime.
After an intense second period, in which Gill and Macready provided the aggression needed to keep their respective sides in the hunt, the third stanza proved an arm-wrestle with just 14 points scored.
Chapman opened the period with a three-pointer to extend Devils' lead to nine points and perhaps many in the crowd were expecting the favourites to kick away.
However, Lions would not retreat and had the chance to claim the lead but Dan Gill was unable to find the basket with a lay-up. Instead, Chapman landed a free throw at the other end shortly after to establish a 46-44 lead going into the final quarter.
With less than seven minutes of the match remaining, Lions hit the lead through a Greg O'Brien goal and when Josh Gill hit a three-pointer soon after, the underdogs were up 51-48.
A scoring frenzy was unleashed with both teams scoring rapidly and Devils reclaiming the lead, at one stage securing a six-point advantage, only to again be reeled in as Lions surged ahead 67-66 with one minute remaining.
Again Devils refused to give in, reclaiming the lead 69-67 with 14.9 seconds remaining with Chapman proving the matchwinner by intercepting Gill and racing away to score, shutting Lions out of the contest.
Josh Gill finished with a gamehigh 35 points, receving good support from O'Brien (11 points).
Chapman was Devils' leading scorer with 26 points while Green added 21 and Macready 16.
The high level of skills evident in the match would seem to indicate that Gladstone's entry into the statewide Southern Cross Division competition was benefiting all teams in the local premiership.