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The Sureway Wollongong Roller Hawks remain undefeated with one round to go in the National Wheelchair Basketball League (NWBL).


The Roller Hawks began the round with the news Tristan Knowles would be unable to make the trip to Perth due to Western Australia's border restrictions for Victorians. 


It left the Roller Hawks with just 7 players for the round and forced coach Brendan Dowler to play his starters for the full 40 minutes in Friday night's battle against the Queensland Spinning Bullets.


Scores were locked up at 37-all at half-time before Roller Hawks’ guard Nick Taylor went on a tear in the third quarter shooting 5 from 5 for 10 of his eventual 24 points, helping to win the term for the Roller Hawks 22-15.

Nick Taylor Round 2

“It’s a great feeling when you feel like you can’t miss and I certainly had that in the third,” said Taylor.


Queensland stayed in the hunt in the final period but the Roller Hawks remained in control to win 77-73, their narrowest victory of the season.


“Brendan made a few tactical adjustments to our game plan and then re-emphasised for us to stick to our process and we started to find some rhythm on the offence in the third quarter.”


“That led to us knocking down a few outside shots and allowed us to that small lead that was ultimately the difference in the game.”


On Saturday the Roller Hawks played the similarly undermanned Sydney Metro Blue Hornets who were missing the contingent of Victorian based players whose absence in Round 1, forced the Blue Hornets to withdraw from the round entirely.


The sharp shooting of Wollongong proved the difference with Nick Taylor and Luke Pople (4 three pointers) on target from mid and long range while the height of Brett Stibners (32 points, 14 rebounds) and Shawn Russell (22 points and 15 rebounds) under the basket was also too much for Sydney to contend with. 

“It wasn’t planned,” said Pople of his three point attempts. “It’s just what their defence gave us. I was just happy a few went down.”


While those four played the whole game again, Coach Dowler rotated Nick Scott with his two bench low pointers, Tim Rushby-Smith and Darren Hayes. Rushby-Smith earning a NWBL career high 15 minutes.


Both sides backed up with an early start on Sunday and it was the Blue Hornets who were awake to the task early as they raced to a 21-16 first quarter lead.


After struggling from the field on just 5 of 22 shooting the previous evening, Sydney’s CJ McCarthy-Grogan found his groove on Sunday, eventually finishing with 34 points on 15-28 shooting to go with 10 rebounds and 7 assists.


But there was no one to go with him and match it with the Roller Hawks who rallied in the second quarter and by half time had turned a 5 point deficit into a 7 point lead. 


Wollongong worked for easy shots inside, allowing Shawn Russell to finish with 36 points and 13 rebounds while Brett Stibners had 32 points, 8 rebounds, 8 assists as the defending champions outscored the Blue Hornets 47-28 in the second half, winning 89-63.


“We started pretty poorly this morning but then got going, we managed to pick their defence apart for easy transition opportunities to break the game open,” said Taylor.


The Roller Hawks finished with three wins from three games while the Blue Hornets lost three games and opted to forfeit their last game against Perth due to scheduling problems to then get back from Perth. 


The Perth Wheelcats had a comfortable weekend beating Queensland on Friday, beating the Australian U23 Spinners on Saturday and the aforementioned forfeit on Sunday.


Queensland played just the two games with their sole win coming against the Spinners.


There’s now a three week break until Round 4 in Brisbane from 9th to 11th July.