The Eastern Mavericks have continued their remarkable second half of the season with a 69-79 win over West Adelaide.
In a surprising result, the 5-8 Mavericks came into Port Adelaide needing a win to keep their season alive, and their desperation showed as they controlled the majority of the game and outrebounded the Bearcats 41-57.
West Adelaide has dropped out of the top 5 after wins from both Forestville and Southern. They now sit precariously at 7-7 and have lost control of their own destiny.
Carmen Tyson-Thomas (40 pts, 17 rebs, 2 asts) dominated the game and looked a class above the rest. Isabella Stratford (10 pts, 10 rebs, 2 asts) put up a valuable double-double while Kedeisha Kartinyeri (10 pts, 3 rebs, 3 asts) chipped in with a good performance on the ball.
Ieva Nagy (19 pts, 8 rebs, 2 asts) played at double her season averages. Jasmin Fejo (10 pts, 5 rebs, 6 asts) was the only other Bearcat to reach double figures. Alexis Eckles (4 pts, 5 rebs, 3 asts) and Molly Whitmore (8 pts, 5 rebs, 1 ast) had a reasonable impact off the bench but it was not enough in the end.
Bearcats Coach Tim Brenton says his team failed to match the aggression of the Mavericks.
“Once again I think we just lacked a little bit of aggression and a little bit of intensity, that was where the game was won and lost tonight,” says Coach Brenton.
“At the end of the day we’re small, so we’ve got to team-rebound, and rebounding is a desire.
“It’s just reading the play and having a commitment to have that desire to want to get that ball.”
Eastern were a completely new side since they last played the Bearcats. Import Tyson-Thomas the most notable addition, who through seven games has become the league’s leading scorer (23.5 PPG). Kartinyeri, Stratford and Taylah Levy all featured in the Mavericks line-up despite not appearing in round 5.
With this fresh side, the Mavericks had given their season a late revival, winning four from their last five to keep them in with a faint sniff of finals heading into this game.
Tyson-Thomas immediately showed her skill on the ball, scoring Eastern’s first 9 points of the night. Her ability to penetrate inside causing a problem for the Bearcats, who found themselves down 12 points just six minutes in.
Coach Brenton says her performance was indicative of a larger trend in the game.
“She just over-hustled our entire team,” says Coach Brenton.
“(On the) opening possessions she took the ball out of our hands twice; they’re not basketball skills—they’re just want and desire.”
West Adelaide fought hard to finish the first quarter but still faced an 8-point deficit at the first change.
The Bearcats played their best basketball in the second quarter, which also highlighted Eastern’s over reliance on their import.
After a crafty layup from Tyson-Thomas put her side up 22-31, she was taken out of the game. In the 3:16 minutes she was off the court, the Bearcats went on an 8-2 run. After she was subbed back on, her shot let her down twice and all of a sudden West Adelaide were up 36-33, courtesy of 13 unanswered points.
The Mavericks managed to settle after a testy encounter between their coach and the referees. A timeout late in the second quarter gave them time to regroup and retake the lead just before halftime. The Bearcats despite all their efforts, down 38-39 at the main change.
Eastern were taking much better care of the ball this time around. At halftime they had only turned the ball over nine times, paling in comparison to their 37 turnovers against the Bearcats in round 5.
Tahlia Fejo got her team off to the perfect start in the second half, draining two shots from deep just 30 seconds into the quarter.
With the Bearcats up by five and Tahlia finding her stroke from outside, it seemed as if they could run away with the win at this point. Unfortunately, it would be their biggest lead of the game and Tahlia would not score again.
Kartinyeri came through for the Mavericks with 7 points in the third quarter, and Tyson-Thomas continued her dominant performance with a huge block in transition.
Similar to last week, West Adelaide were leaking points at the end of quarters. With three minutes till the final change, the Bearcats let a 52-50 lead devolve into a 55-61 deficit—a last second three from Mavericks Captain Jaimi Rock proving costly.
The Bearcats made their last run of the game at the start of the fourth quarter, scoring on their first three possessions for 7 unanswered points. An Ieva Nagy three gave West Adelaide a 1-point lead and the momentum with nine minutes left.
But the response from the Mavericks was swift and ruthless, clamping down on defence to allow just 7 points for the rest of the game.
Another 10 points from Tyson-Thomas would be enough to get the Mavericks over the line, who at 6-8 sit just one game behind West Adelaide.
Coach Brenton says the team needs to rally around each other with a crucial few weeks ahead.
“It’s going to be a really cut-throat three or four weeks for us, a lot hinges on other teams winning and losing,” says Coach Brenton.
“We’re going to wrap our arms around each other, we’re going to try and stay positive.
“We’ve got to stay positive and hopefully a cranky coach won’t get in the way of them!”
West Adelaide face a must win game against 8th placed Woodville on Saturday at Wayville.