"He [Tankard] was incredible tonight," Kennett guard John Goodman said. "I wasn't hitting anything, but big man was there all night. He couldn't be stopped. It was his show."
Eagles coach Dan McManus said before the game that his team would have to win the game with defense against the more offense-oriented Demons. McManus' club came into the game allowing fewer than 35 points per game defensively, but had no individual averaging more than 10 a game offensively.
The visitors took control of the game from the outset, seizing a 14-2 lead behind eight points from Tankard. The Eagles could manage little against Kennett's ferocious man-to-man defense as the Demons took a commanding 29-18 lead at the half, dominating on both ends of the floor.
However, Shanahan (10-5, 3-2) rallied in the third quarter, using the slashing moves of Colin Murphy and the guard play of Sergio Santolupo to make a game of it. The Eagles outscored Kennett by 17-9 in the quarter and closed to within 44-41 with just under five minutes to play.
The teams exchanged baskets several times before a steal and a hoop by Santolupo cut the lead to two at 49-47 with under a minute remaining.
Tankard, however, was too much for the Eagles in the closing seconds. The big man had his way in the lane and he and teammates Scott Grimes and Scott Whittle converted from the foul line to seal the victory.
"We lost our rhythm late in the game," Goodman said. "Coach told us to ease up and slow the ball. They are quick defensively and got us out of our game somewhat."
The Blue Demons now will host Unionville on Friday night in a key league matchup.
Undefeated Kennett is turning heads throughout the SCCL.
"They're the best team in league," McManus said. "They have a lot of weapons and can beat you a lot of ways."