Lithgow Workies Lazers chose their last home game of the season to play their closest game in front of their biggest crowd when they won a thrilling Spalding Waratah League Division One Basketball encounter with the second-placed Canberra Gunners Academy side, 85-84.
The Canberra side were in good form, riding a five-game winning streak, but Lithgow's starting five of Michael Johnson, Darreon Tolliver, Michael Cox, Adam Marjoram and Fletcher Swift matched them basket-for-basket in the opening exchanges before the visitors grabbed a 15-11 edge.
The Lazers finished the quarter strongly though, with a 10-2 closing burst putting them up 21-17 at the first break.
Lithgow's bench players, Matt Hughes, Hayden Cox, Caleb Fitzpatrick, Kobe Hunter, Austyn Lincoln and Michael Brooks, more than held the Gunners, and the Lazers went out to their largest lead of the game, 38-30, with two-and-a-half minutes left in the second stanza.
Both sides scored 19 in the quarter, with a late Canberra fightback holding the margin at four in the home sides' favour, 40-36.
Canberra charged to the lead with an 8-0 run after a minute-and-a-half of the third quarter, going up 44-40 and threatening to pull away.
The Lazers tightened their play at both ends of the court and the teams traded the lead four times before the Gunners ended the period in front, 64-62.
The Gunners quietened the home crowd when they went out to an eight-point lead at 72-64 with only six minutes on the clock.
As they had done the previous week, the Lazers left it late to make their comeback, and a Johnson three-pointer tied it at 79 with ninety seconds remaining.
Canberra got to the front again but a lay-up from Tolliver put the Lazers ahead for good with 24 seconds left.
The home side forced two turnovers in the dying moments to secure their fifth straight win by the narrowest of margins, 85-84.
The Gunners were best served by Dhal Fieg with a game-high 34 points, followed by Akech Mayom on 19 and John Mapiou 11.
The Lazers travel west this Saturday to play the Orange Eagles at Sir Neville Howse Stadium. Tip-off is at 6:30 pm.
Result: Lithgow Lazers 85 (D Tolliver 25, M Johnson 21, M Cox 20, M Hughes 8, F Swift 7, C Fitzpatrick 4) def Canberra Gunners Academy 84.
Pool A Standings: Sutherland 13 wins, 2 losses, Canberra 11-4, Illawarra 11-4, Lithgow 9-6, Shoalhaven 9-6, Bankstown 8-7, Queanbeyan 7-8, Wagga 4-11, Orange 2-13, Dubbo 1-14.
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