Wildcats square semi-final series
Perth has responded in emphatic fashion in their semi-final series with Illawarra, defeating the Hawks 79-71 at the WIN Entertainment Centre on Saturday.
Needing to win the game to keep their season alive the Wildcats trailed 31-28 at half time, but found a way back in to the contest courtesy of a 32 point third quarter to take the semi-final series to a decider in Perth on Monday night.
Forward John Mooney was a steadying presence with 18 points and eight rebounds while Clint Steindl sparked the Wildcats with a 12-point cameo in the third quarter that included three triples.
Stepping into the starting lineup after a season-ending injury to two-time league MVP Bryce Cotton, 19-year-old Luke Travers flourished in the biggest game of his career as he compiled 13 points, 10 rebounds and three assists.
Perth lost point guard Mitch Norton in the opening half with a hip injury, with Trevor Gleeson's side facing a nervous wait to see if their star defensive player will be able to feature in the deciding game at RAC Arena on Monday.
Gleeson described the result as the gutsiest win he has been involved with during his eight-year tenure at the Wildcats.
"When Mitch went down we could have been a house of cards but we showed toughness, we showed heart, we showed passion, everything just makes you proud to be the coach," Gleeson said.
Melbourne United will play South East Melbourne on Sunday in the other semi-final series with the minor premiers leading 1-0, before the Hawks try to make it two wins over the Wildcats at RAC Arena in the space of a week to book their first Grand Final series since 2017.
IMAGE: Transport NSW.