Eagles soar against Sonics

Sam Whelan and Billy Hughes stood out for Maffra and Sale respectively on Saturday night.

Sam Whelan and Billy Hughes stood out for Maffra and Sale respectively on Saturday night.

THE Maffra Eagles men had a successful weekend in the Country Basketball League, defeating arch rival Sale on Saturday night and defeating four-time reining champion Churchill on Sunday.

The victories catapulted the team into second position on the ladder with a four wins and a loss after five rounds.

On Saturday night, the Sale Sonics got off to a fast start behind the hot hand of Billy Hughes (27 points).

Midway through the second quarter, the Eagles were down 43-26 and were struggling to defend the two-man game of Mem Bektas (13 points) or Josh Backway (21) setting screen for Hughes. From this 17-point deficit, Maffra turned up the defensive pressure.

Led by Blake Gallatly's great all round game (33 points, seven rebounds and seven assists), the Eagles were able to generate their offence from a strong defensive effort.

The battle between Hughes and Maffra's Sam Whelan (27 points and seven assists) on both ends of the court was worth the price of admission, as was the strength and speed of Jack Johnstone (11 points and two steals) in his first game of the season.

The Eagles' strong finish gave them a comfortable 101-81 win.

DESPITE trailing by 12 points in the dying stages, the Eagles defeated Churchill 94-93 on Sunday.

The Blue Devils defeated Traralgon the previous night to kick start their championship defence and were looking to atone for the previous week's loss to the Eagles.

It was a tight game with the home side having its nose ahead for most of the afternoon. With the reliable Jordan Canovan (24 points) having plenty of support on the scoreboard, unlike previous weeks, from Andrew Petrou (19) and the Michaelides brothers Nick and Rob (16).

With 1:44 minutes seconds remaining, Churchill led by 12 points and seemed to have the game in hand. The belief and composure of the young Eagles saw them chip away at the lead, making important shots and some huge defensive plays.

With a huge three pointer from Whelan with six seconds remaining saw Maffra hit the lead by a point after a perfectly executed play which was drawn up in the previous time out huddle.

With six seconds to win the game a fantastic defensive set from the Eagles with Whelan getting the game saving block on Churchill big man Tim James. Whelan was outstanding scoring a game high 37 points along with four assists and three rebounds.

Gallatly was solid with 17 points, seven rebounds and three assists. Big man and last season's club MVP Billy Pleming had a good game with 16 points and seven rebounds.

IN the women's match on Saturday night, Maffra defeated Sale 60-56 to continue its unbeaten start to the season.

With the Eagles leading by eight points at half-time, the Sonics fought back in the third quarter to reduce the deficit to one point by the break. The visitors, however, finished stronger, scoring 15 points to eight in the final term.

Coco Henry scored 22 points and Jaz Allman 17 for Maffra. Bree Burgiel led the Sale scoring, with 11.

MAFFRA will host Moe on Saturday night, with the women from 6pm and the men from 8pm, before the long journey to play the Wildcats at Korumburra on Sunday.

Sale will welcome Churchill tomorrow night for a men's match from 7pm. The Sonics women will have the weekend off.

Gippsland Senior
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