The Sydney Metro Blues are on the winners list in 2018 after two victories in Round 3 while the Kilsyth Cobras have tightened up things at the top of the ladder with two wins over the Wollongong Rollerhawks.
Welcoming CJ McCarthy-Grogan back to the side on Saturday, the Blues still found themselves trailing the Adelaide Thunder by seven points at three-quarter time.
However, McCarthy-Grogan (29 points, five assists, five steals) went on to score the first seven points of the final term for Sydney Metro while Anderson Parker (ten points, three steals) contributed with a couple of baskets to put the home side back in front.
Phil Stephens (25 points, 11 rebounds) had a quick response for the Thunder and Will Crooks then had a chance to tie the game inside the final 40 seconds but missed a free-throw which opened the door for Parker and Kylie Gauci to seal a four-point victory.
The following day, McCarthy-Grogan led Sydney Metro to a more convincing 14-point victory as McCarthy-Grogan tallied a triple-double of 22 points, ten rebounds, 11 assists and four steals while Parker scored 20 points on 10-15 shooting off the bench.
Darren Skuse also impressed, averaging ten points per game for the weekend and Gauci finished with 8.5 points and three steals.
For the Thunder, Jay Dohnt played every minute of both contests for 14.5 points, six assists and two steals while Adam Roocke flirted with a triple-double average, recording 14.5 points, 11 rebounds, seven assists and 3.5 steals.
Wollongong pushed their winning streak to eight on Friday night as they hosted Kilsyth, defeating the visitors by 22 on the back of a 35-15 first half.
Michael Auprince made his season debut with 26 points and nine rebounds off the bench, matching Brett Stibners’ output of 26 points which answered the best efforts of Tristan Knowles (20 points, seven rebounds, eight assists).
Looking to repeat the dose on Saturday, the Rollerhawks trailed by just a point at the main break but their offence dried up in the face of Kilsyth’s suffocating defence and the Cobras claimed an 80-55 win- Wollongong’s first loss of the season.
Knowles had a monster triple-double of 26 points, 14 boards and 14 assists but Shaun Groenewegen recorded 23 points, seven rebounds and six assists as the two combined to knock down six three-pointers while Kilsyth also received 14 points off their bench.
With the weekend series tied at 1-1, Wollongong found themselves down by three at half-time but a Nick Taylor (four points, seven assists) basket to start the fourth gave the Rollerhawks the lead.
The teams traded shots for most of the final term and with two minutes on the clock, the scores remained level at 64-64.
Damon Fent (ten points) came up big for the Cobras, scoring the next four in quick succession and then Jontee Brown (nine points, six boards) followed to make it a 6-0 run for Kilsyth as they secured a 72-67 victory.
Stibners again paced Wollongong with 26 points, ten boards and seven assists but he could not match Knowles (25 points, 11 rebounds and 12 assists), Groenewegen (16 points, eight rebounds) and Brian Carminati (eight points off the bench).
Just a game off top spot at nearly the halfway point of the regular season, Kilsyth have proven they can match Wollongong and the race to the Championship is wide open.
The other series that was played over the weekend saw the Queensland Spinning Bullets gain some separation on the ladder against the Perth Wheelcats, beating them twice.
The Spinning Bullets now sit third, only two wins behind the Rollerhawks and two wins clear of the Wheelcats while they have played two less games than both Wollongong and Kilsyth.
Defeating Perth by eight points on Saturday night and 18 points on Sunday, Tom O’Neill-Thorne tallied two triple-doubles to end with 29 points, 12 rebounds and 12 assists per game.
The rest of the team shared the scoring duties too though with Daniel Anstey and Kurt Thomson notching double-figures in the first game and Jordan Bartley adding seven points, seven rebounds off the bench while on Sunday, Jake Fulwood had ten points and Steven Elliott contributed nine points.
Shaun Norris (28 points, 9.5 rebounds, 5.5 assists) was aided by Andrew Dewberry (16 points per game) and Thomas McHugh (11.5 points) but the Wheelcats were out-scored 42-2 in bench points across the two contests.
Round 4 of the 2018 season resumes on May 18 as 11 games are played over three days in the busiest weekend outside of the Cluster Round.