Wagga Heat coach Colin Reed has challenged his players to improve their discipline or pay the price ahead of their qualifying final clash with Bankstown.
The Heat edged northern conference rivals Central Coast Crusaders 97-87 at ‘The Incinerator’ last weekend to book their berth in the qualifiers, but the game wasn’t without its twists and turns.
Starting duo Joshua McPherson and Connell Crossland were fouled out during the contest before poor decision-making and a string of Heat errors saw the Crusaders draw level midway through the fourth quarter.
It took a late surge from Jacob Edwards, Joel Stakiewicz, Jaydan Oliver and Zac Maloney to seal the win, leaving their coach with more questions than answers.
“We did everything right at the start of the game, but things started to fall apart in the third quarter and the team dynamic changed,” Reed said.
“The players chose not to stick to the structures and as soon as that happened, we let Central Coast back in the game.”
Relinquishing early leads is becoming a trend for the Heat after close shaves with Bankstown and Queanbeyan earlier this year – one that Reed is eager to snuff out.
“It’s something that’s happening regularly where we seem to build good leads and just hand it back over. I’m not sure whether we just get complacent, but we drop off and our discipline wanes,” he said.
“Some of that comes back to the senior players as well and it’s up to them to make sure they stay disciplined.
“I think it also comes down using our basketball IQ and playing as a team.”
Maintaining discipline will be key in the finals cauldron against a red-hot Bruins on their home patch.
The Heat have played Bankstown twice this season with both games decided by a two-point margin.
“They (Bankstown) will be difficult and they’ve got a number of senior players with good heads on them,” Reed said.
“It will be a tough game … but we trained well on Monday and we’ve got some good things going on, so we’ll have a strong plan in place.”
It’s a plan that will likely hand Edwards more game time than usual after the shooter’s impressive showing against Central Coast.
“Jacob’s performance was really good and he eliminated a number of threats for us,” Reed said.
“He’s a left-hander with a really good rhythm and he’s still got the athleticism to take on a guard in defence.”
The Heat and Bruins tip off 4pm this Saturday at Bankstown Basketball Stadium.
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