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Wildcats continue record-breaking run

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 12/02/2017

The Perth Wildcats will feature in the NBL finals series for the 31st straight year after a dramatic 96-94 win over Melbourne United.Guard Casey Prather recorded 26 points and 11 assists in the victory to maintain the Wildcats' long postseason streak, eliminating the New Zealand Breakers in the process."It feels bloody good," said Perth coach Trevor Gleeson said on Sunday."Full credit to Melbourne, they played their hearts out," "he added. "It was a tremendous effort by us coming down here."Bryce Cotton made a pair of free-throws with three seconds remaining to ice the game for Perth while Matty Knight and Jameel McKay each recorded double-digit points and rebounds.Melbourne imports Josh Boone and Casper Ware each finished with 27 points while Chris Goulding made six three-pointers in his 21-point haul.Melbourne coach Dean Demopoulos felt his side put their best foot forward against the finals-bound Wildcats but just fell short in their final match of the season."Our hats off to them," said Demopoulos. "We congratulate all the teams that made it to the playoffs and we are deeply disappointed that we did not."Looking to finish the season in style, Goulding opened the match with a triple and hit three-of-four for the term, and Josh Boone's tip-in at the buzzer gave the home side a 29-21 lead after one quarter.But the Wildcats responded with consecutive baskets to start the second term and cut Melbourne's lead to one point at the main break.Goulding had 15 first-half points while Boone went into the main break with 14 points and eight boards.Ware found his range after half time as he reeled off seven straight points for Melbourne but Perth steadied with Matty Knight putting the visitors ahead from the free throw line midway through the third quarter. Perth took a 69-65 lead into the final quarter then made the decisive break with a Jesse Wagstaff triple and McKay's strong dunk over Goulding giving them a nine-point lead with four minutes to play. Ware, Goulding and David Andersen hit from long range late to keep Melbourne in the fight but Perth made their foul shots to seal victory.

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