Tigers, Devils final comes down to the wire
y CRAIG ROSScraigr@gladstoneobserver.com.au
A FIVE-STAR performance from Paige Wharton led Tigers to a nailbiting 41-38 Gladstone Amateur Basketball Association women's division one grand final victory over Devils at Kev Broome Stadium on Saturday night.
Tigers were forced to fight for the victory with the lead swapping between the two sides late in the final quarter as the more experienced Devils lineup tried to out-smart their younger rivals.
However, the Tigers showed determination and composure beyond their years to endure the onslaught and secure the win.
Wharton, who was later named player of the final and the division's most valuable player, was outstanding for the champions, whether making valuable steals in defence or leading Tigers' pointscoring up front.
The 15-year-old was pleased her team did not panic as Devils piled on the pressure in the late stages.
'We just tried to pump each other up and said 'it's ok if we're behind ? we'll get ahead, there's plenty of time'. We just kept it cool,' she said.
Tigers grabbed an early lead in the first quarter and maintained a slim advantage until, with just one minute and 23 seconds of the match remaining, Devils' Rachel Johnston landed a three-point shot to level the scores at 36-36.
Devils grabbed the lead for the first time with less than 30 seconds remaining when Kellie Pegg landed two from two at the free throw line to nudge her side ahead 38-37.
Wharton did the same at the other end soon after and then added another as the dramatic final seconds were played out.
Wharton's combination with her sister Sam was one of the highlights of the game, the pair launching a series of attacking raids.
Paige, who posted 14 points, said one of her side's prime objectives was to shut Devils danger player Carla Pirie out of the match.
Although Pirie's class inevitably shone through, piling on 19 points for Devils, Tigers did well to contain her during several periods of the match. Johnston and Pegg also stood out for Devils.