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06 November 2019
By Colin MacGillivray
Ararat notched a win and a loss at the weekend as it kept itself in the thick of the Country Basketball League south-west conference finals race.
The Redbacks played arguably the best team in the conference, Mount Gambier, on Saturday night before a meeting with competition newcomer Stawell on Sunday.
Playing at home on Saturday night, they were no match for the reigning conference champion, losing 103-71.
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The Lakers scored first through a pair of Kurt Rodis free throws and never relinquished the lead, although the Redbacks stabilised in the second quarter with strong performances from Fletcher Burger and Jason Cameron.
Cameron finished with 13 points, with Josh Fiegert contributing 12 and Cody Lindsay nine.
DJ Woods, who exploded for 30 points in the Redbacks’ first-up win against Millicent Magic, was relatively subdued with nine against the Lakers.
The Lakers made the road trip with only seven players, but five of them scored in double figures, led by Simon Berkfeld, 21, Rodis and Sam Stafford, 19 apiece.
Ararat needed to quickly shake off the loss to regroup against the hungry Wildcats, who entered the round winless and at the bottom of the ladder.
When the Redbacks ran away to a 12-0 lead in the first three minutes it looked as if the Wildcats were in for another crushing loss, but the home team dug in its heels and cut the margin to four points late in the quarter.
With a pair of Matthew Bourke three-pointers trimming Ararat’s lead back to five near the end of the second, Stawell looked a chance of pulling off an unlikely upset.
But the Redbacks responded through Woods, who scored seven unanswered points to help establish a 12-point break by half time.
Although the Wildcats continued to play hard in the second half they were unable to make inroads, eventually losing 81-52.
Woods responded from his quiet night against Mount Gambier with 22 points, while Cody Lindsay had 18.
For the Wildcats it was Aiden Graveson and Joel Freeland who did most of the damage, scoring 14 and 12 respectively.
Ararat is now sixth on the ladder and faces another game against Mount Gambier at the weekend, this time on the road.
The Redbacks will play Millicent on Saturday night and the Lakers on Sunday afternoon in a South Australian road trip.
The Wildcats will also be on the road with a trip to Colac to take on the Kookas, while Horsham Hornets will return to action with a game against Warrnambool at Horsham Basketball Stadium at 2pm on Sunday.
Horsham Lady Hornets will also return from a week off with a Saturday night game in Colac and a home game against Warrnambool at 2pm on Sunday.
The entire November 6, 2019 edition of The Weekly Advertiser is available online. READ IT HERE!