WELL, that was unexpected.
The Albury-Wodonga Bandits caused one of the upsets of the SEABL season last night, upending the powerful Kilsyth Cobras 78-69 at the Lauren Jackson Sports Centre.
A fast start and some excellent late offensive execution powered the Border club to just its fourth win of the year and snapped a seven-game losing streak.
Import playmaker Deuce Briscoe shook off some recent poor form to lead the Bandits with 24 points, including some crucial fourth-quarter baskets.
He was ably supported by Nick Payne’s sublime stat line of 17 points, 11 rebounds and six assists while Lamar Mallory added an impressive double-double of 16 points and 15 boards.
Coach Brad Chalmers was full of praise for his struggling squad after defeating a Cobras team that was sitting third in the standings in the South conference.
“Defensively, we did a pretty good job, even through our flat patches,” Chalmers said.
“And for a change, we didn’t have the opposition catch fire either.
“Overall, I thought we were pretty good, it’s where we’ve been trying to be since the start of the season.
“While I’m pleased, it’s also a little frustrating that it’s taken this long and when you’re in this predicament.
“But all credit to the guys, they got the job done; the test now is to consistently serve that up.”
Earlier, an 8-0 start for the Bandits looked promising and when Mallory threw down a monster dunk, the hosts had a 10-2 lead and the crowd involved.
Disgusted Kilsyth coach Rod Popp subbed his entire starting lineup out of the game but it mattered little to Albury-Wodonga, which raced to a 19-8 lead by the first break.
The Cobras were always going to make a run and did so in the early going of the second quarter, cutting the deficit to just two points, 28-26, and forcing Chalmers to call time-out in an effort to regroup.
The third quarter, so often the Bandits’ Achilles heel this year, reared its ugly head as the Cobras cut into the margin to trail 51-48 with one stanza to play.
Bandits made the first break, opening up a 68-58 lead with less than five minutes remaining, then held on to the end.