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Geraldton Buccaneers once again split results on the road to leave top two hopes in the balance

Headshot of Jake Santa Maria
Jake Santa MariaGeraldton Guardian
Shaun Stewart was named captain for the Redbacks clash
Camera IconShaun Stewart was named captain for the Redbacks clash Credit: Arctic Moon Photography

Another double-header weekend brought another mixed bag for the Buccaneers as they claimed a thriller on Saturday against the Lightning but fell short to the Redbacks for the second time this season.

The Buccs have not managed to have a perfect away weekend this season and it’s a stat they could not turn around against the Perth Redbacks on Sunday.

Part of the reason could’ve been some fatigue from Saturday, with the Buccs having to overcome the Lightning in a 95-90 thriller.

It was a high-scoring start as the Lightning came in on a hot run of form and desperately trying to solidify their spot inside the eight in with Geraldton leading 31-27 by quarter-time and then clinging to the 63-61 advantage at the main break.

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Rowan Mackenzie was huge in keeping Lakeside in the contest with 23 points but Geraldton went 10/19 from beyond the arc to cling to that two-point advantage.

The Buccaneers did open up an 11-point lead in the third quarter and were still up nine in the fourth, but not for the first time this season they were forced to fend off a late fightback with their experienced leaders shining.

Geraldton ended up hitting 15/38 from beyond the arc for the game including the league’s second most prolific three-point shooter Aaron Ralph landing 5/11 for 17 points and six rebounds.

Malik Meunier also knocked down 4/6 for 18 points and seven assists with Shaun Stewart also going 3/6 for 18 points, three boards and three assists.

Star import Zac Gattorna finished with 14 points but would not line up against the Redbacks as he was rested after pulling up tight after playing 34 minutes on Saturday.

Perth had the fast start with David Okwera and Tevin Jackson getting to work but the Buccs came back through some fouls before captain Shaun Stewart sunk his first three to make it a one-point ball game.

But Jackson would hit back at the death as Redbacks led by five points at the first break.

A poor start to the second quarter saw the lead stretch to 11 points before Ralph got the Buccs back on track with back-to-back threes, but 18 points to the Redbacks in the last three minutes had them up by 12 at the half.

The Redbacks would maintain the gap through most of the third quarter but Johny Narkle and Malik Meunier combined for nine points in two and a half minutes to bring the gap down to nine by the start of the fourth.

The lead got back out to 13 before Stewart stepped in to close the Buccs to within two baskets setting up a tense finish.

But the Redbacks had more left in the tank and a series of fouls as the Buccs got more desperate sealed the game with eight of their last nine points coming from the line.

Ralph led the way with 21 points on 6/15 three-point shooting, while Narkle had his best game of the year with 20 points and five rebounds while Meunier finished with 20 points and Stewart 15.

The split weekend has the Buccs in third to set up a blockbuster clash at home with Perry Lakes this weekend with second place on the line.

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