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Cats win overtime epic



Perth has taken a 1-0 lead over Cairns in their semi-final series, winning a pulsating encounter in overtime 108-107 at RAC Arena on Friday night.


In a match that had several lead changes and clutch moments at both ends of the floor, it was Bryce Cotton who again came up big when it counted, posting 42 points (with ten three pointers) to lead his side to a one point win in front of more than 12,000 fans.


Cotton was dynamite early as he dropped 14 points in the opening term, in what was an electric start from both teams.


NBL20 Defensive Player of the Year DJ Newbill shut him out of the contest in the second to keep him scoreless, doing some damage himself at the other end of the floor as the visitors overturned a nine point quarter time deficit to lead by the same margin at the long break.


MVP runner up Scott Machado was having a say as well for the Snakes, completely silencing the home fans as Wildcats coach Trevor Gleeson searched for answers.


Cairns again had the answers in the third to keep the Cats at bay, Machado dropping a long range shot to push the margin out to six with a handful of seconds left in the term.


Nick Kay responded on the buzzer at the other end to keep the margin at three at the final break, before Cotton lifted another gear at the start of the last to level the scores.


Both teams trades baskets and momentum in the frantic final stanza, Fabijan Krslovic missing a chance to win it on the buzzer for Cairns with scores level at 93 apiece.


Cotton surged past 40 points in overtime, the competition's premier player producing yet again when it counted down the stretch.


Machado had the chance to take it to a second overtime period, but missed from long range and was only able to complete the put back from inside, meaning a one point win for the Wildcats.


Cotton led all comers with support from Kay (23 points) and Mitch Norton (12 points), while Cairns three imports led the way in a herioic effort, Machado with 31 points to top the list, Cameron Oliver with 18 rebounds to go with his 19 points.


Game two is on Sunday at the Cairns Convention Centre, with the Taipans needing to win on their home floor to keep the season alive.


PERTH 108 (Cotton 42, Kay 23, Norton 12)

CAIRNS 107 (Machado 31, Newbill 25, Oliver 19)


IMAGE: NBL website.

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