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The Sureway Wollongong Roller Hawks are through to the 2019 NWBL Grand Final after defeating the Perth Wheelcats 85-63.

Nick Taylor Finals

From the opening tip off both teams had come to play with a vocal Perth bench cheering on their starters as they sunk the first two baskets of the game. But the Rollers Hawks quickly responded with Nick Taylor sinking his first attempt to spark a 10-2 run that forced Perth to call an early time out.


The two sides battled hard throughout the first quarter and with 2:29 left in the period the Wheelcats only trailed by 4 but the defending champs finished the quarter with a 7 point run to stretch the lead to 23-12 at the first break. 


Wollongong remained in control through the second quarter shooting 10 of 19 as the Wheelcats struggled to stay with the Roller Hawks, shooting 6 of 14 to trail 45-25 at the main break. The lead would’ve been greater if not for the Roller Hawks’ six missed shots underneath the basket.


The Wheelcats found their range in the third quarter but couldn’t make in-roads into the Roller Hawks’ sizable lead and as Perth tried in desperation throughout the final period, Wollongong remained composed, making 9 of their 14 attempts and shooting all but three of them inside the paint.


The most telling stat was points inside the paint where the Roller Hawks outscored the Wheelcats 48-22 and while Perth captain Shaun Norris finished with 29 points, former Roller Hawk Michael Auprince was restricted to just 14 points on 6 of 16 shooting.


“Generally if you win the points in the paint you win the game and we talked about that beforehand and we kept ‘Aupie’ out of the paint which was out game plan.” said Brett Stibners after the match.


Contributions from the Roller Hawks were as even as they’ve been all season with Nick Taylor (24 points), Luke Pople (22 points) Brett Stibners (20 points) and Shawn Russell (19 points) all sharing the offensive duties. 


“We played very well, we shared the ball around. Four guys all scored around 20 each so we’re happy with that” 


“It’s easy to get focussed against these guys. Shawn Norris is the best player in the world so you need to be switched on, otherwise he’s going to kill you and go for 50 or 60 points.”


Stibners finished with a triple double (20 points, 13 rebounds, 11 assists) before checking out of the game with 1:43 remaining while coach Brendan Dowler used Taylor, Pople and Russell for the full game and rotated low pointers Nick Scott, Tim Markcrow and Hannah Dodd throughout the game, Dodd playing 40 minutes with the Sydney Uni Flames in the WNWBL game held immediately prior.


The win means the Roller Hawks have earnt a day off while the Wheelcats must now face the Queensland Spinning Bullets for a spot in the Gold Medal game after the Bullets won an overtime thriller against the third placed Kilsyth Cobras. 


Queensland’s Tom O’Neill-Thorne forced the game into overtime with a three point shot on the buzzer before Jordan Bartley landed a three as extra time expired to give the Bullets a 76-74 win.


Brett Stibners says he has no preference as to who the Roller Hawks meet on Sunday but will enjoy the day off as the the Wheelcats and Bullets do battle.


“It’s going to be a very good game, there’s going to be a contrast of playing styles. Shaunie and Aupie want to get inside and Brisbane just want to get up in their face so it’s going to be a very good game to watch especially with Brisbane on a high after tonight.”


NWBL FINALS FIXTURES @ Southern Districts Basketball Association, Zahel Street, Carina QLD


Friday August 16: 




Saturday August 17: 



Sunday August 12: 

GAME 4: KILSYTH COBRAS vs Loser Game 3 (Bronze Medal Game) @ 10:30am

GAME 5: ROLLER HAWKS vs Winner Game 3 (Gold Medal Game) @ 2:00pm