Clarke remains trigger ready for Hawks

BASKETBALL

Wollongong sharpshooter Rotnei Clarke's bombardment of the Sydney Kings on Saturday night was a stark reminder of why the Hawks can't be counted out of final four calculations.

Clarke had already proved what he was capable of with 36-point and 37-point explosions against New Zealand and Melbourne.

The 24-year-old guard outdid himself against the Kings, erupting for 39 in Wollongong's 102-84 victory.

The Hawks know they have one of the league's most lethal weapons in Clarke. If he stays hot over the final six games, sixth-placed Wollongong (9-13) might be good enough to rise above the pack and clinch their third top four finish in five years.

"We can only control what we can control. If we keep playing well and winning games, things will take care of themselves," Clarke said of his team's play-off prospects.

"We could've written ourselves off when we were 6-13, but we showed up to practice like we were 5-0. We're practising hard and it's carrying over into games, and now we just have a lot of confidence. We're going to keep doing what we're doing.

"What we're seeing is that we're doing the little things now, and if we did that in the close games we know we could've won them.

"We're rebounding well, we're sharing the ball, we're making shots. Guys have confidence and we're playing loose."

Clarke has clearly broken out of a recent shooting slump, making 12 of 23 three-point attempts over the past three games. His scoring average in that span is 27.7 points per game.

Never selfish, he has also been finding teammates, averaging 5.4 assists in Wollongong's past three wins.

"To win games like this, you need players to do special things, and Rotty did that, but he had a lot of good help from his teammates in a lot of different areas," Hawks coach Gordie McLeod said.

"We got a good balance of inside and outside scoring."

Clarke scored his team's first nine points against the Kings. He was consistent throughout, racking up 20 in the first half and 19 in the second.

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