Taipans put bite on Crocs in thriller
LIKE a little kid fighting for the last lolly in the jar, Taipan Jamar Wilson wrestled down another offensive rebound and potted the easy basket as Townsville's coach Paul Woolpert again waved his hands in frustration.
It was one of five offensive rebounds that the Taipan, who stands at just 185cm, pulled in against a side that includes five men taller than 2m.
Between them, they managed just four for the entire game.
And don't think Woolpert didn't notice.
He rattled off the decisive stats post-match without even looking at the sheet of paper in front of him.
Rebounds went 43-27 in favour of the Taipans and they had 16 more field goal attempts than Townsville, he grumbled.
While the Crocs had jumped to a 14-point lead at the half, it was only a matter of time before Cairns starting making more shots.
When they finally did, the score read 78-75 in favour of Cairns at the final buzzer.
And with it, the Taipans drew up to the shoulder of their competition in the final sprint to a top-four finish.
"Lack of desire," Woolpert said, had become the team's unwanted trademark this season and for all the Taipans' sharp-shooting down the stretch, that was the department that mattered most on Friday night.
While Wilson was busy pulling in rebounds he had no right to, Shane Edwards went hurtling into an advertising sign, hurting his hand to keep the ball alive.
Likewise, Cam Tragardh bit the dust like David Warner reeling in a ball destined for the boundary and Aaron Grabau finished with possession every time the Spalding was up for grabs.
Alex Loughton was the star, and rightly so with 25 points on 5-of-6 three point shooting, plus a brilliant assist to give the Taipans the lead in the final moments.
And Cam Gliddon came up big, draining a three from in front of the Townsville bench with six seconds remaining to secure the game.
A crowd of just over 3800 was there to see it, less even than last weekend when the NRL trial match was played at the same time.
It was the fifth consecutive game the side has won or lost by three points, and the entertainment factor was such that there will surely be more bums on seats when they host Perth this Friday night.
Loughton, who missed all five field goal attempts in the first half, bravely kept firing away in the second half and came good.
"It'll be something for people to talk about all week and then hopefully bring their friends to the next game," the forward prompted.
Taipans coach Aaron Fearne who called them out for being mentally soft last game washappy to see some ticker with the game on the line.The Taipans meet the Perth Wildcats at the Cairns Convention Centre this Friday night. Tip-off 7.30pm.
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Fast mover: Jamar Wilson was all over the court for the Cairns Taipans and pulled back the Crocs' early lead with some fast footwork and accuracy. Picture: MIKE WATT