Perth Phoenix 62 v 71 St Mirren West College Scotland
The undefeated St Mirren travelled North to face a Perth side who have mixed results this season.The Saints line-up was without the fast attacking Ali Harris and the influential captain Jack Thomson, could only make the bench, a number of other players injured or unavailable for the Friday night fixture meant Saints only had 10 players. The starting saints were Ross Pigott, Brad Low, Mikey Irvine, Owen Speirs and Robbie Stevenson, and they faced a much taller Perth Side who looked as though they were up for the challenge.
A scrappy start and both defenses were strong in the early exchanges, however, Perth chipped away at the scoreboard and with some poor shooting and bad luck, with the ball determined not to fall for the St Mirren Team, Perth eased away in front. The Saints could not find their rhythm and could not break down a big strong Perth defense and it took St Mirren four minutes before Robbie Stevenson managed their first score, which was followed promptly by the first three pointer of the match for Perth and halfway through the quarter, Saints found themselves in unfamiliar territory trailing 12-2. In the second half of the quarter both defenses were still strong, however St Mirren were starting to find the basket with Mikey Irvine scoring the first Paisley three pointer. Louis McLean was the first sub on for Saints as they continued to get back into the game and the quarter finished 22-16 in favour of a very stubborn Perth Side.
The young but physically strong Emmanuel Kanwei was on at the start of Q2 as Saints tried to cope with the strong physical Perth attack. Jack Thomson was also on and this quickly established a greater intensity to the Saints defense. St Mirren started to catch up with Perth, the mid quarter score 28-24. With Ben Mitchell now on, Saints worked harder and Perth were unable to get the ball out of defense as they were under constant pressure and this combined with a period in the game when Robbie Stevenson could not miss, with 2s and 3 pointers in abundance, St Mirren eventually caught and passed Perth, with 12 unanswered points at one stage, Saints took the quarter 11-26, giving a half time score of 33-42.
The third quarter started with a tremendous block from Ross Piggott on an attack from a Perth player a foot taller, Robbie Stevenson broke up court and hit a 3 pointer from distance. This did not break the Perth teams morale and although a few of their players were starting to get in foul trouble they continued to defend strongly and another 3 pointer from Mikey Irvine had the score at 37 – 52 for Saints and for the first time Saints appeared to be comfortable. Greg Merrill came on, the last Saints sub, with the team now rotating. The Perth team started to come back into the match and gradually nibbled away at the Saints lead. Two slam dunks late in the quarter had the local fans on their feet as Perth edged the Quarter 18 – 16, with the aggregate score 51 – 58, to set up an exciting final period.
Emmanuel Kanwei made the first score of the final period, however, the relief was short lived as Perth continued to nibble away at the Saints lead and the match score was 62 – 63, with 4 mins left when the big Perth attacker scored, after an aggressive move on the basket. However, as he took the brave Ross Piggott out, it was called a charge and disallowed. Perth were on 5 team fouls and to rub salt in the wounds, Saints scored the free throw. This was followed by some pushing off the ball and a second Perth player had to leave on 5 fouls. Saints then held their nerve and ran out the clock, with a few scores on the break as Perth pressed hard, to edge the final period 11 – 13 and to give a final score of 62 – 71.
A very exciting game and by far the hardest match that Saints have been involved in all season, with the result not assured until the last few minutes.
Also an incredible personal performance from Saint’s star man of the day, Robbie Stevenson who scored an unbelievable 49 points, including 23 points in the second quarter alone, to lead his team to a hard earned win.
Next week is league action at home to the high flying Falkirk Fury in what will go a long way to deciding the League title. S at 14th Oct at 1620 at the Lagoon, this is one not to miss…….. Go Saints