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Wildcats hold off Crocs; Kings in upset

By Chris Pike
12 January 2014 05:36PM EST

A CONTROVERSIAL unsportsmanlike foul call halted Townsville's late charge against Perth in the NBL on Sunday while the Sydney Kings scored an important upset over the Adelaide 36ers.

Sunday's double-header of NBL action began in Adelaide as the second-placed 36ers hosted a Sydney team on a four-game losing slide, but it was the Kings who prevailed in the finish on a terrific performance to win 102-89 and move back into the top-four in the process.

The action then moved to Townsville as the Crocs and Wildcats did battle for the second time this weekend, and again it was Perth who prevailed 103-97 but only after a spirited Crocodiles fight back was halted in the dying stages by a controversial unsportsmanlike foul call against Brian Conklin on Shawn Redhage.

The results mean that after 13 rounds of the NBL season the Wildcats sit out clear on top with a 14-3 record ahead of the 36ers (11-5) and Melbourne Tigers (10-7).

Sydney (6-8) moved back into fourth position with its win over Adelaide with Wollongong (6-9), New Zealand (6-10), Cairns (6-10) and Townsville (4-11) sitting outside the top-four at present.

The Kings had lost four straight matches and had been struggling ever since swapping import point Jesse Sanders with NBA-experienced swingman Sam Young.

It hasn’t been Young's fault, but things hadn’t clicked for the Kings since the move but on Sunday in Adelaide it all came together as they scored an impressive 13-point victory over a Sixers team that had been on a three-game winning run and was closing in on Perth's top spot.

The Kings were clearly on song from the outset of the match but couldn’t quite shake the 36ers in the first half leading by three points at the main break.

However, Sydney was able to break away from Adelaide during the third quarter on the back of hitting 31 points and then did enough in the final period to cruise to the 13-point win.

Young was the star of the show for the Kings with 24 points, five rebounds and four assists on the back of an efficient 8-of-13 from the field.

Ben Madgen also added 19 points, five boards and four assists while hitting 3-of-6 three-pointers with big man AJ Ogilvy finishing with 18 points, 14 rebounds and three blocked shots while only missing one of his nine field goal attempts.

Veteran sharpshooter James Harvey might have had his usual No. 33 singlet left at home, but put on No. 20 for the day and hit 15 points while shooting 5-of-6 from the floor and 3-of-4 from three-point territory.

Cody Ellis also showed plenty of signs of his strong potential with 13 points and four rebounds in 4-of-6 shooting from the floor and 2-of-3 from long range.

Adelaide big man Daniel Johnson worked hard for 21 points and five rebounds with captain Adam Gibson adding 21 points, six boards and three assists.

Jason Cadee also had 12 points and five assists, and Anthony Petrie 11 points, six boards, three steals and two assists.

The league-leading Wildcats then got off to a flying start in Townsville just two days after beating the same team in Perth by 15 points on Friday.

With James Ennis on fire with 15 points, the Wildcats piled on 35 as a team in the first quarter and then another 28 in the second to have 63 by half-time.

The Crocs were doing their best to try and keep pace, but it was an uphill battle against a team that hit 10-of-14 from three-point range in the first half.

The Crocs had done well to only trail by 18 points at half-time given the shooting barrage from the Wildcats, and then throughout the second half the home team slowly whittled down the deficit.

Suddenly with just over two minutes remaining, Russell Hinder made a basket to cut Perth's lead to five with the score 94-89, but then the game was decided at the whistle of the referee down the other end.

Conklin was called for a foul on Redhage which was fair enough, but then in an apparent overreaction to Redhage's reaction after getting fouled, the referee also blew an unsportsmanlike.

That meant that Redhage had the two regular free-throws, two more for the unsportsmanlike and then the Wildcats were also given the ball back after Redhage made all four at the line.

Ennis went on to score on that possession as well and suddenly the Wildcats' lead went from 94-89 to 100-89 all in the one play, and that spelled the end of the contest as the Crocs ran out of time on a spirited fight back to lose by six points despite a 52-40 second half over the league's best team.

Ennis was again the star of the day for the Wildcats finishing with 27 points, six rebounds and two assists while hitting 5-of-8 from three-point range.

Jermaine Beal added 19 points and three assists with Redhage contributing 15 points and five assists, and captain Damian Martin 10 points, three steals and two assists.

Conklin led the way for the Crocs with 22 points and seven rebounds with Jacob Holmes managing 19 points and five boards.

Import Josh Pace had a good outing with 18 points and five rebounds while Steve Markovic finished with 12 points after being off for some of the first half for treatment on a lower leg complaint.

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