BRAD COLE THE ADVOCATE North-West Thunder coach Sam Armstrong is hoping the final stages of last week’s game can transfer to the start of Saturday night’s must-win NBL1 clash with Kilsyth at Ulverstone.
After hanging in for long periods against Melbourne, the Thunder finally sprung to life in the last two minutes of regulation time to tie the scores up at the buzzer thanks to Kai Woodfall before dominating the five minute overtime period.
“If we can bring that same defensive effort it will keep us in good stead, but we still have to find ways to score more regularly,” he said.
“We were really patchy in the first half last week but were able to bog the game down.
“We just could bet the ball in the basket and put enough scoreboard pressure on but we found our legs late in the game and our last seven minutes were the best of the game.”
Woodfall’s late heroics against the Tigers also drew praise from Armstrong, who said the guard was starting to show what he is capable of.
“Kai’s shot to put us into overtime was a customary shot for him, but what he did on overtime with three more three-pointers and taking two charges was huge,” Armstrong said.
“Before he came to us I knew he was capable of it and he’s starting to find his feet with us now.”
The Thunder coach will be happy to get a similar performance from Woodfall along with a few others against a versatile Kilsyth team that arrive in Tasmania with a 9-6 record and had won three-in-a-row before a last start loss to Dandenong.
“They have some athletic big men who can shoot very well and it will be a challenge for our big men against guys who can step out and play off the bounce,” Armstrong said.
“They also have some experienced guards who can all switch positions so there will be no chance to relax on any plays – it’s going to be a 40-minute grind.
“We’ll have to do a good job guarding their dribble penetration along with trying to win the rebound count.”
The home side will be back at full strength with the return of captain Joe Chilcott.
Saturday night’s match starts at 7.30pm and also doubles as the Todd Northrop memorial game, with funds raised going to the Cancer Council Tasmania.
NBL1 ladder: 1. Ballarat (15-2); 2. Nunawading (12-5); 3. Geelong (11-7); 4. Frankston (10-6); 5. Kilsyth (9-6); 6. Melbourne (9-7); 7. Waverley (8-7); 8. Dandenong (8-8); 9. Bendigo (8-8); 10. Hobart (7-8); 11. Knox (7-9); 12. NW Thunder (7-9); 13. Diamond Valley (7-10); 14. BA COE (7-10); 15. Eltham (6-10); 16. Albury Wodonga (6-10); 17. Ringwood (5-12); 18. Sandringham (4-12).