Leary leads Bulls to BBA grand final

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Mitchell WoodcockSouth Western Times
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A sensational performance from guard Matthew Leary led Bulls to a tight one-point win over Aces Navy in the Bunbury Basketball Association preliminary at the South West Sports Centre on Friday night.

Leary scored a game-high 53 points, including the two pivotal free throws to help his side to the 92-91 victory and a berth in Saturday’s grand final.

Bulls were missing a number of their stars for the big match, with Trent Worthington, Paddy Phillips and Chris Douglas all not suiting up.

Aces Navy were on top in the early stages of the game with Archie Hall (15 points) and Travis Durnin (27 points) dominating both keyways by taking a number of rebounds.

Leary kept Bulls in the contest by driving hard on the basket and drawing a number of fouls to make sure he was making the most of his side controlling the ball.

Aces Navy led by four points at quarter time, but Bulls rallied and went on an 8-0 run to start the second quarter.

Durnin and Wade Hitchcock (22 points) answered soon after with three-pointers, giving their side some much-needed confidence.

Four late points from Leary pulled the margin back to one at half-time, with Aces Navy leading 47-46.

Nathan Berryman (15 points) began to find his feet in the third quarter and took some of the pressure off of Leary.

From here Bulls slowly pulled away and began putting a lot of pressure on Aces Navy in defence, forcing a number of turnovers and working hard off the fast break.

With about three minutes left in the third term Bulls had blown the lead out to 67-59, before Aces Navy again found some much-needed momentum in offence, reducing the lead to two points at the final change.

Early in the final term Bulls pushed ahead again to lead by 11 points, before Durnin, Hall and Hitchcock dragged Aces Navy back into the game.

From here the two teams went score for score, but Hitchcock was fouled out with just over a minute left in the game, hurting Aces Navy on offence.

Leary hit a number of clutch free throws to keep Bulls in front, before Aces Navy missed late three-point opportunities to send the game into over-time.

The win means Bulls will play Tornadoes Black in the grand final on Saturday, with tip-off at 7pm

In the women’s competition, Aces White forfeited their preliminary final against Bulls due to a lack of qualified fit players, meaning Bulls will take on Tornadoes Red in the grand final.

The women’s grand final will tip-off at 5.30pm at the South West Sports Centre.

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