by Eltham High School Journalism student Lachlan Everett
Eltham Wildcats 67 def by Kilsyth Cobras 69
Top performers: V. Panousis 17 points, A. Ellis 14 points/8 rebounds, C. Schweers 13 points
The Eltham Wildcats struggled in the first quarter of the NBL1 Game Of The Week with Coach Spencer alluding to the 21.1 field goal percentage, he was kind enough to speak with me after the game and say “We won every quarter besides the first.”
The statistic that stood out was the ‘9’ In efficiency compared to Kilsyth’s ‘31’ in the 1st, Transition defence was an issue all night but in the 1st Eltham allowed 8 fast break points. The upside was Eltham shot well from down town (40% in the 1st, and 50% for the night).
Kilsyth continually ran hand off plays through Klara Wischer which either lead to an open 3 or an easy cut to the basket. Chelsie Schweers kept Eltham in the game with timely baskets as Maggie Mulligan bullied her way into the post for her patterned hook shot in the final minutes of the quarter.
The Wildcat supporters shouting the shot clock out sounded like a new year’s eve party (10,9,8 etc) the engagement was spectacular however this exemplified Eltham’s slow offence. Kilsyth forced every Wildcat possession down to the last 5 seconds of the shot clock with impressive half-court defence as their active hands forced 10 turnovers which was converted into 9 points.
All game Eltham shot well from 3, in the 3rd Eltham shot 6/10 with Abbey Ellis who was the scrappy defensive anchor of the second half and Chelsie Schweers who had two each. Eltham responded to a controversial foul call against Kilsyth with a 3 to start the quarter to grab some momentum. This quarter was the strongest Eltham looked offensively scoring 35 points. Kilsyth was playing Eltham’s zone with interior cuts with passing either from the elbow or behind the arch. Kilsyth’s superior half-court defence was able to stagnate Eltham’s offence and they noticeably had their hands in the passing lanes and able to deflect numerous passes (17 TO for Eltham in the 3rd alone). With 1:30 to go a volley of 3’s were made that ignited the crowd on both sides as the Wildcats grabbed momentum with two made three’s to finish the period.
In the last term, Maggie Mulligan and Abbey Ellis both were excellent defensively; Maggie played elite tier perimeter defence on many of her switched defensive assignments. Chelsea Brook had a quiet 9 points but was Eltham’s best rebounder with 9 boards. Kilsyth were able to draw fouls late in the game and converted on 8/11 free throws. Eltham’s stellar 3 point shooting kept them in the game but they could not recover from the 1st quarter deficit.
Abbey Ellis said after the game “we play our best when we are running” and emphasises the defensive intensity that she brings and also commented “it’s all communication… we’re in that friendship level where we can yell at each other and not take it personally”.
In Abbey’s voice you could tell the family bond that she’s made with her teammates allows her to be herself both on and off the court, the girls played three strong quarters.
Eltham Wildcats 79 def Kilsyth Cobras 74
Top performers: G. McKay 20 points/9 rebounds, A. Doyle 17 points, J. Sykes 16 points/9 rebounds
The first quarter was a domination by Eltham, Kilsyth did go to the foul line more (8/12, 66.7%) but only scored 7 points outside of free throws. Kilsyth FG percentage was 16.7% and Eltham was extremely efficient in the first period with 42.9% from 3 and 54.5% from the field (equalling 34 in efficiency statistic) compared to Kilsyth’s ‘9’. Chris Patton was a consistent post threat for the Cobras while Peter Hooley converted 4/4 foul shots which were the two noticeable scorers in the first.
Eltham was nearly flawless in the first defensively by out rebounding and swatting 3 blocks including a Josh Sykes chase down block that ignited the crowd. All night long young star Ovie Magbegor was an elite defensive coordinator ending the game with 8 rebounds and 3 blocks.
The defensive intensity was evident from the first foul shot of the second period with Geremy McKay calling out his preferred defensive assignments. He continually called out for Felix Von Hofe, holding hime to a scoreless half and +/- of -24 for the game. Kilsyth’s Owen Odigie was a defensive nightmare for Kilsyth grabbing blocks and numerous deflections plus many more things do not shown on the box score. Kilsyth switched their defence to a full court press which allowed Sykes to use his athleticism to peirce the defence while McKay & Doyle that killed the momentum of Kilsyth.
Chris Patton was Kilsyth’s best offensive player, he had 20 points to end the quarter and finished with 25, he was consistently making jump hook after jump hook and even sinking three pointers. Kilsyth missed a lot of easy offensive boards while Sam Whelan cleaned up the O boards for Eltham late in the third combined with Ovie’s sustained defensive effort keeping Eltham in the lead.
This quarter was a spectacular display with elite basketball play, the crowd was involved in every single possession with chants of defence swallowing the Cobras attention and fight. McKay kept the team under control while Sykes had a very impressive defensive quarter, with multiple attempts and continued drive to control the game in anyway he could. With only 5 points separating the teams the game may look close but overall Eltham dominated the style and tempo of the game.
Gritty but flashy game by the wildcats who pulled out the win against a very good side.