By Hayley Wildes
To say those who ventured to Dandenong Stadium on Saturday night were treated to some classic basketball would be a huge understatement.
The Rangers men’s and women’s NBL1 teams took on the Southern Sabres and both games were incredible spectacles.
In the first game, the women – who had just eight players in uniform, compared to 11 for the Sabres – fought tooth and nail in a fiery clash.
Centre Colleen Planeta (20 points, 5 rebounds and 3 assists) kept the Rangers in the game in the first half.
Unfortunately for the Rangers, just as Rosie Fadljevic (12 points, 4/4 3FG and 7 rebounds) was really starting to feel it halfway through the third quarter, she landed on an opponent’s foot on a made three-point shot and had to leave the game writhing in pain.
She wouldn’t return, and with that the Rangers had just two players on the bench for the remainder of the game.
Dandenong didn’t back down, though, and in a back-and-forth clash, the Rangers found themselves down by two points, 68-66, with 15 seconds remaining.
It was set-up for the Rangers to go for the win and out of the timeout Aimie Clydesdale (16 points) drained a massive triple with just 1.1 seconds on the clock. It looked to have won the game for Dandenong, but in an incredible final second, the Sabres’ Ella Batish drained the game-winning lay-up as time expired.
The heartbreaking 70-69 loss saw the Rangers fall to 9-5 on the season.
While that game was an instant classic, the men’s clash was just as enthralling.
In a high-scoring, breathtaking game, the Rangers and Sabres played out a double overtime thriller that had to be seen to be believed.
Trailing by 15 points at the final break, the Rangers had their work cut out for them down the stretch, but the fans could sense their belief and trust in one another as they slowly but surely chipped away at the deficit.
With Matt Kenyon (27 points, 14 rebounds, 3 assists and 0 turnovers) and Dexter Kernich-Drew (28 points) dominating and inspiring the team with infectious energy, the Rangers never gave up.
At the end of regulation, scores were tied 109-109.
The first overtime period saw the Sabres jump out to an early lead but when Melbourne United star Dave Barlow fouled out, the Rangers came again and levelled things up with a Kenyon bucket to take the game to a second overtime.
With everything on the line and bodies tiring – along with Lucas Barker (22 points, 13 assists and 6 rebounds) sitting out the second overtime period with an ankle injury – the Sabres took over down the stretch to complete a hard-fought 138-130 win.