Man of the match Casey Prather inspired the Perth Wildcats to an incredibly exciting victory in the final game of round seven, as they managed to defeat the Cairns Taipans by a single point at the Perth Arena.
After a massive game, Prather stepped up right at the end of regular time, knocking down a pressure free throw with scores tied, and just 1.5 seconds left on the clock to hand the Wildcats the victory.
His aggression, which brought on the final foul and free throw, was a constant feature of his game right throughout.
The whole game was back and forth, neither team ever looking out of it. Plenty of lead changes, and switches of momentum characterised the game and a good run by either team at any given point could have changed the game.
Apart from Prather for the WIldcats, Nathan Jawai was their other key performer tonight. There was a period during the third quarterwhere it felt like he was the only player on the court as he knocked down shot after shot after shot.
For the Taipans meanwhile, Markel Starks and Mark Worthington were the dominant forces. Cameron Gliddon also stepped up and knocked down some massive three point shots to drag them back into it at certain stages when the match looked to be slipping.
Early on in the contest, it was all the Taipans in what was a sloppy first quarter. They raced out of the blocks to a seven point lead in the first couple of minutes.
However, that dominance was short lived, as the Wildcats brought them back and had the scores tied at the end of the first quarter.
The rest of the game was back and forth in nature, with neither team able to pull away. The Wildcats always looked more likely, but the Taipans had their fare share of runs as well, never able to go on with it.
Into the final quarter, it was Cameron Gliddon and Markel Starks for the Taipans, and Jermaine Beal, along with Casey Prather for the WIldcats who stood up. However it was neither that truly brought the Wildcats into the drivers seat.
Down by a point with under 20 seconds to go, the WIldcats worked it around desperately looking for an open man. Eventually, they found Jarrod Kenny who knocked down a three pointer. He had refused to take them all game, which made the shot even more incredible.
Following a time out, the Taipans tied the game up after a missed shot from Markel Starks, and put back by Matt Burston.
From there, Prather would go on the driver following a time out and miss the lay up. With the crowd right in the game, he would be fouled and make the first free throw, winning the Wildcats the game.
It feels like we say it every week, but another contender for match of the year as the WIldcats take it by a point.
Perth Wildcats 91
Cairns Taipans 90
A refreshed Cairns Taipans outfit will have a real test when they travel west to play the high-flying Perth Wildcats at the Perth Arena. Join The Roar for live scores and coverage from 6:45pm (AEDT).
Interestingly, the Wildcats and Taipans haven’t met yet this season, despite the fact we are now at the end of Round 7, and some other teams are approaching their final meeting with each other for the season.
This means that these two teams still have four games against each other this season.
The amount of importance this adds in terms of the momentum for each team moving forward will be huge. The winner of this could set themselves up to at the very least win the season series.
The Wildcats come into this game off a close six-point win over the Adelaide 36ers away from home on Wednesday Night. It was Jermaine Beal who again led the Wildcats through that game, and the incredible stat of them only winning when he scores 16 or more points continued. Casey Prather was the other shining light for the Wildcats, his speed and footwork just proving too much for the defence.
As they have done a number of times this season, the Wildcats also controlled the rebounding. They held an 11 rebound advantage over the 36ers, and the Taipans must shut them down, especially on the offensive glass if they are going to stay in the match.
The Taipans meanwhile, will come into this game massively refreshed. They have only played one game in the last 15 days. That was a much needed victory, and a massive one in terms of their own success, and letting the rest of the league know that Melbourne United could be beaten.
After they had won their first nine games of the season, they fell to the Taipans by 12 points. For the Taipans, it meant they took their record to four wins and five losses, and started to claw their way back into contact with the top four.
Their key player looks to be Mark Worthington. His experience in pressure situations has been key. Markel Starks has added creativity, while Cameron Tragardh adds a lot off the bench. However, they have been yet to all fire consistently this season.
Prediction: At home, and on a roll it is hard to see the Wildcats losing this one. Their rebounding is just too good, and as long as Jermaine Beal plays to somewhere near his potential they should take it in the last quarter.
Wildcats by 7.
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