1994, the year Forest Gump, The Lion King & Pulp Fiction were all released at the Cinemas. The first Playstation was available for sale, OJ Simpson was in the headlines for all the wrong reasons and Justin Bieber was born.
But here at the Snakepit the Illawarra Hawks were soaring despite not being fancied by many of the Basketball experts. Sound familiar?
Melvin Thomas was in his third year at the club and was joined by the silky smooth guard, Butch Hays for the second straight season as our import tandem. May 6th 1994, saw us take on the Hobart Tassie Devils at the Snakepit. The Devils had some solid talent in their line-up featuring Wayne McDaniel, the high flying Calvin Talford, sharp shooter Anthony Stewart and gritty point guard Darren Perry. And although they were winless at this point in the season when they arrived for this clash, they were definitely not a team Coach Alan Black and his side were going to take lightly.
The Devils came out fast to start this game, with import Lamont Middleton leading the way inside. Melvin was held unusually quiet in the 1st quarter scoring only 2 points, but behind the strong play of our guards Hays, Chris Steele and Mick Corkeron, the Hawks were able to enter the first quarter break with a 1 point lead 30-29.
Knowing they had to lift, Hays and Thomas led a second quarter charge. Both ensuring the Devils knew they would not let the game slip. Coupled with sweet shooting from Corkeron and tough inside work from Chuck Harmison and Steve Vos, the Hawks stretched their lead out to 11, going into halftime leading 59-48.
The Devils fought back early in the third quarter and it took some classy play from our team to keep them at bay. Hays and Thomas led the way, while Corkeron remained deadly from outside. Steele, Harmison and Dene MacDonald all helping keep the scoreboard tick over and the team from Hobart at bay.
The fourth quarter saw the Hawks put the team from Tasmania away, eventually running away with a comfortable 19 point win, 109-90. Corkeron led our scorers with 23 points, while Butch Hays did it all with 21 points, 11 assists, 3 rebounds and 3 steals while shooting an impressive 64% (7/11)
Hays came to the Hawks for the 1993 season after two years playing for the Adelaide 36ers. He was a crafty playmaker who had great court vision and ball handling skills, who was able to create points for himself or teammates effortlessly. Deceptively athletic, he would often blow by his defenders as soon as they let up slightly.
Butch and his famous knee high socks, controlled the Snakepit floor for two seasons where he averaged 19 points, 5 rebounds, 5 assists and 2 steals per game in 56 appearances. Always efficient from the field, his field goal percentage was over 50% for his time in a Hawks uniform. With he and Melvin helping lead the team to two straight NBL Quarter Final appearances, it was definitely a great time to be watching Hawks Basketball.
Check out some highlights of Butch against the Devils from May 6th, 1994 here.