Dalton the overtime hero as three Australian basketball teams advance to gold medal games

The youngster was the game-winning hero with a clutch basket to send the Australian side to the gold medal game.

Comes the moment, comes the 21-year-old Queenslander Lachlin Dalton.

In a scene that unfolded like all childhood dreams, in extra time England needed just one point to qualify for the gold medal game.

That was until Dalton turned around and sank an epic 2-pointer to steal victory and keep Australia’s Wheelchair 3×3 team Commonwealth Games gold hopes alive. rolling.

Clutch.

The final basket was the exclamation point of an emotional day for the Australians on the 3×3 pitch, with tears of joy, relief and grief playing out over five matches featuring the four able-bodied teams and in wheelchair on the penultimate day of competition at Smithfield, Birmingham.

The able-bodied men’s team and the women’s wheelchair team have also booked their places in their respective gold medal games, while the able-bodied women’s team will advance to the bronze medal game after a heartbreaking loss. in the semi-final against England.

But it was Dalton, and his co-stars in Luc Pople, Jake Kavanagh and Kurt Thompson which dominated the day, sealing a 12-11 win in the format’s first Commonwealth Games appearance.

With a raucous crowd behind them, the home side took a 5-1 lead halfway through the 10-minute game, and three points clear with 2:12 to go, they looked destined for the victoire.

A tight contest throughout, Pople played the lead, picking up five rebounds and four points. As Kavanagh scored to take a 10-9 lead with 51 seconds left, England fought back to level the scores with 0:11 on the clock.

In overtime, the first team to score two points in total wins.

As England sank their first attempt, Dalton collected the ball from outside the arc and duly sent Australia into the gold medal game.

“You dreamed about it when you were a kid,” Dalton said after the celebrations.

“It was just one of those surreal moments, you count like you’re in your room with your socks on… 3, 2, 1… So to make it on a world stage in the semis – it just doesn’t can’t get much better than this.

“Because two points wins the game, I knew that if we didn’t take the lead early, they would have a pretty good chance of winning. So I just decided, with a bit of daylight, I was just going for it. I was just hoping for the best really.

Dalton spoke of the courage of their opponent and the electric atmosphere of the pop-up arena built in the city center.

“England are a great team…huge props for them, they played their hearts out.”

“I have never been part of such an atmosphere before. It was so close and the whole crowd was so into it. I’m so happy that wheelchair basketball can get the attention it deserves.

“But tomorrow is a new day – gold medal day – that’s what we came here for.”

They will face Canada at 7:30 p.m. local time on Tuesday.

Earlier in the day, the women’s wheelchair team of Hannah Dodd, Georgia Inglis, Ella Sabljak and Amber Merritt were equally thrilled to record a narrow 8-6 win over England.

In the day’s other ‘clash of the ashes’, Australia’s solid defensive play crushed their opponents, allowing them to hold a slim margin and qualify for the final game of the Games.

A two-point tiebreaker from Sabljak in the final three minutes was crucial in securing victory for the green and gold, while Amber Merritt once again proved the difference between the two camps.

“I try to soak up the moment…I feel like crying, I’m so happy,” Merritt said after the game.

“Women’s wheelchair basketball has struggled over the past few years, so to have such a successful year now and show all the hard work on the international stage now is amazing – I’m so happy we’re seeing some success.

Among the raucous home crowd, Merritt and her teammates said that while the atmosphere was raucous, they had a chance to silence it as best they could early on.

“We were joking beforehand – entering the stadium – all the volunteers were wishing us ‘good luck’ and we were laughing that we were ready to be the most hated team on the pitch.”

The experienced team has gelled well as they look to end their maiden Commonwealth Games campaign with a win.

“We had a lot of fun and that’s the most important part for us…that we did the right thing and played with our best friends.”

“I played with Georgia Inglis for 17 years… Ella Sabljak I have known for 15 years and someone I have played with since 2013. They are my closest girls right now and so proud that we are here on this journey together.

“I think we just go and do what we do,” Merritt said of the looming final against Canada.

“We just have to go out there and follow what we’ve done because obviously it’s worked well so far. As long as we do the right things, we can come back with our heads held high.”

It was a busy day for the men’s team, playing twice, winning twice and carrying that momentum into tomorrow’s gold medal game against England.

In the quarter-finals, Kenya got the jump before the Australians battled for the lead only in the closing stages of the match, eventually winning 20-15.

The team worked overtime to cover for their teammate Hiring Gregwho tweaked a groin muscle earlier in the tournament.

Hire still played both games, with the team hoping he would make a full recovery overnight.

“My heart was beating a hundred miles a minute,” Tom Wright said of Kenya’s win.

“We were quite exhausted and facing a bit of adversity, so we were absolutely exhausted, but happy to come away with a win.”

A few hours later, the team returned to the field and silenced the pro-Scottish crowd with an emotional 20-15 win.

Jesse Wagstaff, Dan Johnson, Thomas Wright and Hire combined in the physical game that saw the Australians go home, scoring seven points in the final two minutes.

Wagstaff led the stat sheet, scoring 9/13 with eight rebounds.

“It’s huge,” Wagstaff said of the impending gold medal game.

“You get to represent your country…you watch the crowd, they have great support and every time you wear green and gold it’s a huge privilege.”

Valiant in defeat, the women’s team fell to England in a brutal clash that ended 15-21.

There was plenty of excitement there as Alex Wilson, Lauren Mansfield, Lauren Scherf and Marena Whittle battled it out not just with three on the court, but with thousands in the crowd.

Locked at 11 points per play with 2:32 to go, some crucial shots from the home side made the margin too big to stray into the closing stages.

They will rise to take on New Zealand in tomorrow’s bronze medal match, hoping to win four medals for Australia at the 2022 Commonwealth Games.

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