Panthers hold on in battle of the cats
THE National Basketball League (NBL)1’s Central division always delivers a high level of action on a yearly basis, and season 2022 has been no exception. There has been some seriously good basketball in the first month of the schedule, as South Australia’s finest talents hit the court and show what they have to offer at a national level. With both the men’s and women’s divisions in full swing, there were plenty of games for fans to enjoy over the span of a couple of days.
The fixture for Round 5 saw some pretty intriguing matchups, as a few sides have set themselves up to be a contender for the remainder of the season. In the men’s, there was fair bit of action across the courts, but no game was more entertaining than the battle between the Central District Lions and the South Adelaide Panthers at STARplex on Saturday night. The Panthers were the favoured team as they have had a slightly better start to the year, but the Lions have probably been better than their record suggests. Despite the underdog status, Central District was almost able to pull off the upset, but fell just a couple of points short.
Central District Lions (92) def. by South Adelaide Panthers (94)
It was a pretty high-scoring affair, and that trend started in the first quarter, with both teams firing from the field in the opening 10 minutes. The home side were looking to score in the paint with some easy buckets, while the Panthers were frequently kicking the ball out and finding open players on the perimeter. After a late three to Lion Tobias Dowdell, Central District took a three-point lead into the first break as they looked to claim an unlikely win. Quarter number two was one-way traffic, as the Panthers found their best and put the opposition on the back foot. It was a charge largely led by Jeremy Smith, who really got going from mid-range and in the paint. South Adelaide’s deficit at the first change had been turned into a six-point lead at half time, with the Lions given plenty to do in the second half.
There was every chance the Panthers would keep their momentum rolling into the third quarter and run away with the game, but to the Lions’ credit, they stuck fat and kept themselves in the game. While it wasn’t a dominant term from the home team, it was good enough to reduce the margin by three points heading into the last 10 minutes of play, giving themselves a chance. It was an exciting finish to the game, as Central District fought back to take the lead with just over a minute to play. However, Smith was once again the hero, nailing back to back jumpers to regain the advantage, and the Lions could not conjure an answer in time.
As mentioned above, Smith was simply outstanding, and a major reason why the the Panthers pulled out the win. He poured in a game-high 37 points, with 13 of his 17 attempts from the field finding the bottom of the net. South Adelaide knew if they put the ball in his hands, it was pretty likely to result in a bucket. Dowdell was the standout for the Lions with 26 points, almost leading his team to a season-defining win.
Across the courts
The game above was one of 12 that went ahead around the state of South Australia over the weekend, with plenty of basketball to watch.
Norwood Flames (72) def. West Adelaide Bearcats (68)
Woodville Warriors (108) def. Forestville Eagles (57)
Southern Tigers (79) def. by Sturt Sabres (93)
Eastern Mavericks (66) def. by North Adelaide Rockets (96)
Sturt Sabres (93) def. Eastern Mavericks (63)
Woodville Warriors (58) def. by Forestville Eagles (78)
Southern Tigers (72) def. by Sturt Sabres (79)
Eastern Mavericks (69) def. by North Adelaide Rockets (72)
Central Districts Lions (71) def. by South Adelaide Panthers (93)
Norwood Flames (96) def. by West Adelaide Bearcats (104)
Sturt Sabres (78) def. Eastern Mavericks (60)