A Semi-Final was on the cards on Wednesday night as Division 2 side, Ayrshire Tornadoes, hosted reigning SBC Champions, St Mirren. After dismantling consecutive Cup Finalists Edinburgh Kings in the previous round, they had already caused one of the biggest upsets of the current century. The Division 2 side had called this the biggest game in the club’ s history as a place in the Scottish Cup Finals versus either Dunfermline Reign or Falkirk Fury was up for grabs.
It could be argued that the visitors were the favourites, reigning champions of the division above, it could indeed be said. However, spirits were high on both sides. Speaking to Saints’ coach pregame, Stuart Glass said,
“After Saturdays shocker, we’re here to compete and see what happens.”
Both teams came out the gates firing on all cylinders, but it was Tornadoes who had the edge as the arc was cash money to open the game. An early highlight came from Ayrshire’s Craig McIntyre taking his defender to the ice rink as he crossed him and hit a step-back three. A testy affair was to unfold as Saints’ big’s would have to go to work to keep them in the game. The Gold Coast duo was to be matched by the Ayrshire interior defence of Josh Crolley and McIntyre.
A fast paced opening quarter finished with the League Champions up 27-30.
Turnovers were to be an issue to both sides as the 2ndperiod opened up,  tied the game but that was to be the only positive from the opening minutes. Robb Loughlin sparked the Ayrshire offence, taking the contact hard off some excellent defence from Saints’ Fraser Glass to convert the basket. From 3-point line to the half way line, anything and everything was falling for the home side.
Despite the heroics from the whole Ayrshire team, Saints showed their class from the division above, quietly taking and maintaining the lead. Dominance from Collins and Cleary on the inside provide the space needed for Fergus Harte to breakdown the perimeter. Taking control of the game, the Paisley side took out a 12 point lead with 3 minutes on the clock. Ayrshire Coach David Saunders would have to make changes to the lineup as rebounding became an issue, allowing St Mirren to open the lead up even more to end the half, 39-63.
St Mirren started the half strong, slicing the defence apart for easy scores. The hard work by Harte coupled with his vision and passing ability left the basket wide open for Collins, Glass and Cleary to keep the scoreboard ticking over.
Tornadoes stuck with the 3 pointers, which kept the deficit where it was, more stop were to be needed to close this 33-point gap.
Just as the gap shrunk, Fergus Harte slinked his way to the basket for the hoop and harm. Harte would be in a battle with Craig Moffat, who was nailing tough three’s the whole night, a hand in the face couldn’t slow him down.
The battle ended when the quarter buzzer sounded, Saints commanding the game, 58-94.
The defence from St Mirren was locked in to start the final period as they held Ayrshire at bay. Collins and Harte linked up well to keep their side firing on the offensive end, easy dish passes turning into alley-oops. A moment of hype came from Harte again, flying out of the air as he swatted a lay-up clean out of the air, mimicking the Air Jordan logo.
Graeme Hunter joined in the party nailing threes from all over the court and setting Cleary up with a beautiful no look pass.
Foul trouble and turnovers signified the beginning of the end of this semi-final as St Mirren’s command over Ayrshire Tornadoes ended with a final score of 134-81.
St Mirren were the first team to book their place in the Scottish Cup Finals this year, in which they will face the winners of Reign v Fury.
Ayrshire head coach David Sunders said post game,
“Disappointing result for us unfortunately, especially looking at the final score. Our objective this year has always been promotion to D1 and using the cup as a yard stick for competing at that level. Last season Kings beat us comfortably in the cup and this year we returned the favour. Tonight I think St Mirren showed us why they are the Scottish Champions. We’ve shown we can compete in D1, our goal is to gain promotion and play at that level every week. Our inexperience or playing that calibre of team was a key factor in the final result. Very proud of the team’s efforts in rebuilding this program and congratulations to St Mirren.”
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