Sonics win overtime thriller

The Sale Sonics needed overtime to defeat Traralgon and maintain their unbeaten run at home this season.

The 87-79 win on Saturday night pushed the Sonics into the top three in the Country Basketball League Gippsland standings with a 5-2 record.

Despite the T-Birds sitting on the bottom of the ladder Sale did not come in underestimating its opponents.

With star player Mem Bektas and wing Andrew Quirk missing, the Sonics knew it was going to be tough to keep the bigger Traralgon players under control and were determined to maintain the advantage on the rebounds count throughout the game.

The Sonics came out strong, attacking and scoring at the basket for easy points early. The T-Birds’ big men managed to do damage their end keeping them in the game and within seven points at quarter-time.

The Sonics came out intent on continuing the pressure in the second quarter but the T-Birds managed to hold on and even turned the momentum their way with accurate shooting and tight defence, limiting Sale to only nine points for the quarter and getting the scores back to even, 35-35 at the half.

Sale came out in the second half focused on minimising turnovers and locking down on defence.

The Sonics quickly took the front foot in the quarter with forwards Josh Backway and Daniel Stubbe making life hard for the T-Birds’ big men, creating turnovers leading to easy fast break points for guards Billy Hughes and Ben Dessent.

Despite the Sonics appearing to be ready to run over the top of the young Traralgon side, the T-Birds managed to hang around, never allowing the lead to extend beyond 10 points.

Foul trouble for Backway and guard Josh Stubbes led to reserves Andrew Centra, Macklin Raine, Cody Henness and Marcus Cope getting extended minutes and playing crucial roles on tightening up the Sonics defence and Raine ensuring Sale’s dominance on the boards continued.

Heading into the fourth quarter Sale’s scoring woes continued, but Hughes stepped up hitting important threes to keep the scoreboard ticking over.

With eight seconds left, Sale looked to have the game all but won with a three-point lead, but a high pressured shot made by T-Birds forward Frazar Brouns tied the game and forced overtime.

This would be Sale’s second overtime game for the season after going to double OT against Warragul four weeks earlier. With this previous experience Sale came out confident it would be able to overrun Traralgon in the extra five minutes.

Sonics guards Hughes and Dessent applied the pressure on the opposition defence, attacking the ring and either scoring or getting fouled and sent to the free throw line.

With the home crowd getting louder and more involved, spurring the home side on, the Sonics managed to get the early lead and hold on for the extra period, eventually running away with a win 87-79 to maintain their undefeated streak at home.

Hughes top-scored for Sale with a career high 40 points, Dessent backed him up with 16 points. Trent Everett and Brouns scored 22 and 20 points respectively for Traralgon.

The Sonics will travel to Somerville this Saturday night to face the fourth-placed Western Port Steelers. This will be an important away game for the Sonics as they continue their strong push to cement themselves into finals.