Unstoppable Wicks leads Vikings to undefeated charge
BASKETBALL: Grafton Vikings captain Sam Wicks was unstoppable on the boards as he delighted a strong home crowd that turned out to watch the Vikings pick up their third straight win of the season.
While he started the season off with a relatively quiet night on the score sheet a month ago, a refreshed Wicks was not missing out on an opportunity to impress against Ballina Breakers, landing a personal total of 28 points as the Vikings completed a comfortable 85-71 victory.
It was guards Dylan Beneke (11) and Jack Roberts-Field who started the game on fire, combining with their captain to get the home side out to a 18-0 lead in the first quarter.
"That opening quarter was probably some of the best basketball we have played in a short stretch,” Wicks said. "We had a really good start there and we were able to get through all of our sets early, which is what put us on the front foot.
"We know defence is a big thing, but we knew if we could get a few defensive stops early on, our fast break points was where we were going to hurt them.”
While the Breakers were able to fight back at the start of the second, Grafton came back with crisp three-point shooting from Roberts-Field and Wicks to make it 55-26 at half-time.
"We have that good range and depth in our squad, where if one person is not on, there can be other guys who step up to fill that role,” Wicks said.
The Vikings were without Mitch Wicks, who has been their best this season, but they did not show too many signs of his loss.
"It was great to see a lot of the young blokes came on and contribute their own points, and I guess I stepped it up a bit as well without Mitch there,” Wicks said.
The point guard also found his way into the forwards at different stages in the clash, as coach Nathan Martin toyed with several on-court structures.
"I won't be heading into the big spot too often, I promise,” Wicks said. "It was just that I know the plays in there a little bit and we just wanted to get through our sets at speed. It ended up working out not too bad.”
Ballina came back well late in the contest and even won the final two quarters on the scoresheet but there was little they could do after the Vikings' fast start.
The men's win capped off a top night of action for Grafton after the Vikings' women had earlier defeated Ballina 44-35.