The West Adelaide Bearcats men completed a Southern Tigers ‘sweep’ on Friday night at Port Adelaide after handing the Tigers a 15-point loss (89-74) directly after the Bearcat women took home victory with a similar scoreline.
The Bearcat men started the game slightly shaky after a number of changes to the starting line-up including a change that saw Benjamin Rennie receive his first ever Premier League start. Another notable addition to the starting line-up was college-returnee and former QBL player, Patrick Ciganovic, who also received his first Premier League start for the Bearcats after having spent four years at Mount Marty College and some time with the Port City Power (Queensland Basketball League).
Shayne Heyward (17pts, 11reb, 4blks) and Bryan Jefferson (22pts, 7reb, 3ass), the two sizeable import injections by Coach Maclean in the off-season, gave the Bearcats their first field goal on a trail down the line from Heyward and an assist from his import-accomplice Jefferson.
It was a 4-12 scoreline that forced Coach Maclean into an early timeout to settle his men down. After the timeout, a Heyward steal and finish, off an assist from Rennie, seemed to put the Bearcats back on track. From there, things started to even out and the men eventually took the lead into the first break, 23-20.
A Patrick Ciganovic 3-pointer got the men going in the second and set the stage for a high scoring second quarter providing a lot of entertainment for the 500+ supporters watching on from the sideline. A buzzer-beating, contested fadeaway in the paint from Southern’s Anthony Drmic (20pts, 10reb), who had 18 first half points, saw the Tigers hold the lead at the half, 54-56.
Coach Maclean must have done something right at the half time break, as the men took control to gain a 5 point lead at the end of the third, off a 15-8 quarter. Patrick Thomas (17pts, 5ass) was invaluable defensively for the Bearcats in this quarter, holding Anthony Drmic to just a single bucket, albeit a fadeaway, late shot clock, contested turn-around jumper. Coach Maclean will live with that.
Shayne Heyward provided our first three buckets of the final term. The third in spectacular fashion as Anthony Spadavecchia threw up an assist and Heyward jammed it home treating the crowd to a highlight reel-worthy alley oop play.
Fabian Johnson (17pts – 71% FG) continued his red-hot shooting form connecting with the net on yet another occasion and forcing the Tiger’s to foul him on his second attempt that quarter. Keep your eyes on this young gun.
Anthony Drmic met with the bench a little earlier than Southern would have liked after conceding his fifth personal foul with 6:04 left in the 4th quarter. Perhaps Thomas’ stifling defensive efforts in the second half became a little too much?
From there, the Bearcats cruised home eventually clearing the bench. This meant Nick Bowler got to see his first Premier League minutes after consistently bringing energy and spark to the Reserves team during the Summer Season.
With Thomas Kubank still to come back for the Bearcats, and allowing the fresh faces some time to settle into their new roles, the men are sure to be a handful for the Premier League teams they face this season. With the amount of youth excelling in this side, Bearcat fans will be excited to look towards a future that will taste a considerable amount of success. How soon can they expect to see it? Only time will tell.