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Round 17 Men’s Recap – Cougars finish on a high on record night

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A dramatic and eventful NBL1 West season for the Cockburn Cougars men was never going to finish on a quiet note and it was quite the remarkable 132-124 overtime win in the finish on a record setting night against the Kalamunda Eastern Suns.

Both teams might have been disappointed to be out of the playoff race, but they sure put on a show going to double overtime with the Cougars denying Seb Salinas a fairytale record setting night for the Eastern Suns.

For a lot of the season, the Eastern Suns and Cougars looked likely and capable to be battling for a playoff spot, but it didn’t turn out that way with Kalamunda having lost five straight coming into Friday night and Cockburn four of the last five.

That didn’t stop them putting on quite the spectacular show on the night Salinas set a new men’s games record in his 513rd appearance ironically on the court named after the man he was surpassing, Troy Clarke.

In the end, it was quite the eventful evening and not even a remarkable 54 points from Joe Cook-Green was quite enough for the Eastern Suns.

Cockburn started well to open up a double-figure lead by quarter-time and to lead by as much as 12 points in the second quarter, and to still be up 10 in the third.

The Eastern Suns weren’t going away, though, and scores were all level early in the fourth period when Reece Maxwell knocked down a three-pointer.

It was big shot for big shot in the fourth quarter and just before and after the two-minute mark, Kieran Berry hit a three to put Cockburn up four before Cook-Green answered for Kalamunda.

Berry hit yet another three-point bomb shortly after to put the Cougars back up four with 45 seconds to go but then free-throws from Cook-Green, an offensive rebound and bucket to Albert Almanza later, and scores were all square again 15 second later.

That’s where scores stayed by the end of regulation before the Suns scored the first six points of the first overtime period in a minute. After an Andrew Cooper timeout, though, and it was Taj Benning who led the Cougars back into the contest.

Benning continued to fire for Cockburn and when he converted a three-point play with just under a minute to go, it was a one-point game. Eventually it was a finish from Courtney Alexander II that locked scores up again and forced the game into a second overtime.

It was Cockburn’s turn to hit the first six points of this extra period before Almanza steadied Kalamunda with a three-pointer. But Benning grabbed an offensive rebound to throw down a dunk, and he scored on a layup shortly after to keep the Cougars on top by four.

The lead was again six and this time Cockburn was able to convert it into the eventual eight-point win on quite the remarkable night in so many ways.

Despite Cockburn winning, Joe Cook-Green was brilliant for Kalamunda finishing with 54 points and six assists on 17/29 shooting from the floor, 4/9 from beyond the arc and 16/18 from the foul line.

However, the Cougars had plenty of big performers too with captain Gavin Field shaking off injury for 27 points, seven rebounds, four assists and two steals with 6/8 three-point shooting.

Taj Benning added 26 points, eight rebounds and seven assists, Josh Hunt 21 points, six assists and five boards, Kieran Berry 17 points and four assists, Courtney Alexander II 16 points, 14 rebounds and two blocks, and Keegan Phillips 15 points, five boards and three assists.

As well as Cook-Green’s 54 points for the Eastern Suns, Albert Almanza delivered 26 points, five rebounds and four assists, Dyson Lowe 14 points and four boards, and the record setting Seb Salinas eight points, five rebounds and five assists.

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