Illawarra Mercury

Roller Hawks trounce Perth

Author: TIM KEEBLE
Date: 18/06/2012
Words: 325
Source: ILL
          Publication: Illawarra Mercury
Section: Sport Monday
Page: 35
THE Wollongong Roller Hawks capped a near-perfect season with a 79-59 thrashing of the Perth Wheelcats in yesterday's National Wheelchair Basketball League grand final at Albion Park.

After losing to Perth early in the season, the Roller Hawks never tasted defeat again.

They claimed the minor premiership with a 14-1 record before taming the Wheelcats twice over the weekend to secure their second straight title and third in the club's 12-year existence.

Wollongong overcame the Wheelcats 71-62 in Friday night's major semi-final and were even more dominant in the decider.

Perth won five consecutive championships before 2011.

Now they might have to accept that the Roller Hawks are building a dynasty of their own.

"We heard their coach in a radio interview before the game, saying that we were only minding the trophy and it was still theirs," Wollongong star Brett Stibners said.

"That gave us extra motivation to beat them and have the last laugh."

After tallying 28 points, eight rebounds and four assists in Friday night's triumph, Stibners was superb yesterday, posting a triple-double of 27 points, 17 rebounds and 10 assists.

But the London-bound Paralympian deflected praise and said team-mate Shawn Russell was the real hero.

Russell had 21 points and 17 rebounds in the semi-final and backed up with a spectacular 29 points and 15 rebounds in the grand final.

"Shawn was huge for us all weekend," Stibners said.

"He was the anchor for us and drew a lot of attention and they had no answers for him.

"It was a great team effort. Everybody contributed and winning back-to-back titles is an awesome achievement for this club."

Nick Taylor added 14 points for the Roller Hawks in yesterday's victory, while Luke Pople had 15 in Friday's win.

"We had a crowd of about 500 for the grand final and it's the most I've seen for an NWBL game," Stibners said.

"It made for a great atmosphere and we really fed off the crowd.

"It's great to win a title on our home court."

 
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