Basketball: Wiley Boucher key in tight victory over Crocs

By Steve Deane

Gary Wilkinson of the Breakers in action. File photo / Getty Images
Gary Wilkinson of the Breakers in action. File photo / Getty Images

Breakers 81 Crocs 70

Dillon Boucher doesn't get much love from the ANBL's official scorers.

Much of what the cagey veteran does seems to evade the notice of the statisticians. Last night against the Crocs his line was a fairly underwhelming five rebounds, three assists, two steals and zero points from over 18 minutes of court time. Even adding the extra couple of steals and assists that seemed to go unrewarded, Boucher's numbers don't go close to reflecting his value. There simply aren't stats for much of what he does.

Despite playing on an injured foot, Boucher was a key figure as the Breakers edged a thriller at the North Shore Events Centre. He disrupted the dangerous Crocs to the point of distraction, scrapped away under the rim and dished off passes that made his teammates look good.

Boucher seldom stars, but more often than not he is a difference maker. At 36, the question is how long he can go on making a difference on the court? A natural candidate to replace assistant coach Dean Vickerman should he land the Sydney Kings job, Boucher has long signalled his intention to take up the clipboard.

Last night's display, however, suggested his greater value may well still be out on the pine.

The 33-14 first-quarter mauling the Crocs inflicted during the first meeting between the sides had clearly left a mark, with the fired-up Breakers making their best start of the season.

Despite the presence of the towering Luke Schenscher, the Breakers dominated the boards, with a string of offensive rebounds to the ever-canny Boucher providing a stream of second chance possession. Early on the Breakers certainly put it to good use, with eight players getting on the scoreboard in the opening quarter.

Cedric Jackson was the dominant figure of the opening exchanges with a neat pass to Gary Wilkinson for an assist and two baskets of his own as the Breakers started with three straight uncontested lay-ups. By mid way through the quarter that six-point lead had doubled, with Tom Abercrombie, Wilkinson and CJ Bruton finding their range from the three-point line.

The potent inside-outside offensive display was too much for the Crocs to handle, with the Breakers streaking to a 29-14 lead at quarter-time.

The Breakers appeared in total control throughout the second quarter, however a 6-0 surge in the final minute of the second half capped by a buzzer-beating Peter Crawford three saw the Crocs cut the deficit to eight at halftime.

That set the tone for the night, with the Crocs making repeated runs and the Breakers just managing to cling on.

Another six straight points - including three from the free-throw line from Crawford after he was fouled by Mika Vukona - dragged the Crocs within four before a Wilkinson three arrested the Breakers' slide.

Heading into the final quarter the lead was still a precarious seven points. A long Jackson three stretched that to 10, but the Crocs stormed back with an 8-0 run to take the game down to the wire before a clutch Abercrombie three finally swung the game back the Breakers' way.

Wilkinson led all scorers with 18 points, while Jackson had 15 and Abercrombie 13.

Bruton had a horror night, shooting just 3/12 including 1/9 from the three-point line.

The win improved the Breakers to a league best 12-1 at home and 17-6 overall. Their next assignment is a top-of-the-table clash with the Wildcats in Perth on Sunday week - a match that will go a long way to determining who holds pole position heading into the playoffs.

- NZ Herald

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