Featured News / October 28th, 2016

Rd 4: Hawks grind out win over the defending champs

Hawks fans, we are happy to report that the drought is officially over! Tonight’s 81-76 win over joint league leaders the Perth Wildcats spelled the end to a tough four game losing streak, improving our season record to 2-4 with another game to come this Sunday.

Off the back of a disappointing road effort against Sydney earlier this week, the side’s passion was heavily questioned. The answer to those critics was a hard-nosed and tenacious display that left absolutely nothing in the tank.

The result was never secure, but the job was finished nonetheless, with the Wildcats pushing the Hawks all the way, the lead never surpassing seven on the night.

From the outset the hits were hard and the bodies were on the floor throughout. That allowed for an insanely paced battle, with the wings from both sides dominating the affair.

In a tight start, the quarter ended 24 a piece, Marvelle Harris leading all scorers with 7 early points. The first quarter highlight was credited to Michael Holyfield for a posturising alley-oop dunk, which is sure to do the social media rounds over the weekend.

Big Mike with the alley-oop from Rhys Martin #hawkheads #wollongong

A photo posted by Illawarra Hawks (@illawarrahawks79) on

The second stanza was not dissimilar to the first, with both sides giving nothing away for free. The Hawks got back to the defensive structure that saw them dominate the 36ers in round one, forcing Perth to turn the ball over on seven occasions in the quarter.

Big Mike was dominant down low defensively and finished the half with a sublime put back dunk to send the Hawks into the sheds up 47-45 at the main break.

Tensions were at their highest in the 3rd quarter, with the passionate Illawarra crowd letting their boys know they were here, but also letting the travelling Perth outfit know they were on enemy soil.

The score stayed relatively close throughout, a common theme of the night, with the Hawks only managing to extend the lead to a game high seven at one stage.

With no real standout individual performer at that stage of the game, a true team effort during the same quarter that embarrassed the side four nights earlier was a real delight for all involved.

The fourth quarter was reserved for the Vellshow. The electric Harris was simply not afraid to drive and finish himself when it mattered most. With four minutes remaining he waved off help and did it all himself to push the lead to six, backing the effort up with two clutch free throws to ice the game.

The Hawks were without Mitch Norton during the four game losing streak, so having the starting point guard in the rotation was a significant boost for the Hawks, with coach Rob Beveridge saying Mitch Norton’s inclusion was vital to the teams win.

“That’s what we missed,” said Beveridge. “Absolutely 100%, because he provides so much intensity, he’s an unbelievable defender.

“He sets the tone for us and I believe because we didn’t have Mitch Norton was one of the reasons we struggled in those games (losses).”

In positive signs for the Hawks, every player that took the court contributed on the night. If it weren’t for Tim Coenraad’s off the ball efforts, Nick Kay’s shot contending or AJ Ogilvy’s offensive boards, the result would have been significantly different. Rotnei Clarke also had his rhythm and shooting back in a controlled performance.

The Hawks sit 2-4 with a game at home this Sunday. Tip off is 7pm against an improving Cairns outfit.

Be there #hawkheads to cheer your team on and help Tim Coenraad celebrate his 200th Hawks game.