Drought-break­ing win for Hor­nets

The Weekly Advertiser Horsham - - Sport - BY SARAH SCULLY

Hor­sham basketball leader Owen Hughan has at­trib­uted Hor­sham Hor­nets’ drought-break­ing ti­tle win to a stel­lar de­fen­sive ef­fort fu­elled by dis­ap­point­ment.

The Hor­nets men have played in four los­ing grand fi­nals since win­ning the Big V divi­sion-three cham­pi­onship in 2008.

On Satur­day night, they clinched the men’s 2017-18 Coun­try Basketball League north-west con­fer­ence ti­tle in the first sea­son of the re­vamped com­pe­ti­tion.

The Hor­nets de­feated Bendigo Braves 74-63 in front of a full house at Hor­sham Basketball Sta­dium.

“It’s been 10 years since we won a ma­jor ti­tle and it was defence that won us the game,” Mr Hughan said.

“They were just out­stand­ing. I hon­estly thought some play­ers were too old to play that type of defence – the likes of Cam Bruce, Damien Skur­rie and Tim Pick­ert have been around for a long time – but they did it and they were fan­tas­tic.

“The young kids did it too. That was the most pleas­ing thing for me – other than the win, of course – to see how well the kids played.”

Mr Hughan said he be­lieved the Hor­nets were phys­i­cally out­matched by a big­ger Braves’ out­fit.

“I’ve al­ways said ev­ery­one can play defence, it’s a mat­ter of if they want to – be­cause it hurts,” he said.

“Some­times you do all that work and noth­ing comes of it, but this time they got their just re­ward.”

Play­ing coach Cam Bruce, who was also a mem­ber of the club’s 2008 premier­ship team, echoed Mr Hughan’s sen­ti­ment.

“Sev­eral play­ers have played in four los­ing grand fi­nals since 2008 and a lot of us have stuck to­gether,” he said.

“It is a huge ef­fort to keep push­ing and this is a re­ward for all that work.

“It has given the young ones some­thing to strive for and hope­fully they stick to­gether for a long time.”

The Hor­nets men fin­ished the home-and-away sea­son on top of the lad­der, with only one loss – to Bendigo.

The Braves were fir­ing in the first quar­ter of the grand fi­nal.

Bruce said the open­ing term was a real bat­tle.

“They came out and hit a few big shots,” he said.

“We just hung around and then got on top in the sec­ond quar­ter and held on from there.”

Pick­ert, 22 points, and Matt Lovel, 16, led the scor­ing, but Bruce was par­tic­u­larly pleased with his side’s defence.

“James Hal­lett was fan­tas­tic, keep­ing their most dan­ger­ous scorer Tan­ner Rayner to pretty much no im­pact,” he said.

“Our three talls, Damien Skur­rie, Damien Kilpatrick and Jake Hobbs, made sure Bendigo’s star player Matt An­dron­i­cos also had lit­tle im­pact.

“All in all it was our best team ef­fort for the year.

“Ev­ery­one looked out for each other – if some­one was get­ting beaten, some­one stepped in and helped them out.

“We’ve shown glimpses and patches through­out the sea­son, but this is the first time we’ve done it for four quar­ters.

“I’m re­ally proud of ev­ery­one for their ef­forts.”

Women’s fi­nal

Mr Hughan, Hor­sham Am­a­teur Basketball As­so­ci­a­tion pres­i­dent, said spec­ta­tors were treated to a great night of basketball de­spite mixed re­sults for the home club.

The Lady Hor­nets, the stand­out team of the women’s com­pe­ti­tion this sea­son, fell short of the Lady Braves, 56-34.

Mr Hughan said the Lady Hor­nets were com­pet­i­tive but were out­played on the night.

“I thought the girls played well, but their shoot­ing let them down,” he said.

“They had as good an amount of shots as the other girls, but at the end of the day if you can’t get the ball through the hoop, you’re be­hind the eight ball.

“They com­peted to the line though – they didn’t give up.”

Coach Gareth His­cock agreed.

“You couldn’t fault their ef­fort, ev­ery­one tried their guts out – it was their ex­e­cu­tion that let them down,” he said.

“They picked a hell of a night not to shoot well, but they gave it a crack from the first tip off to the end.

“Bendigo also ap­plied some great de­fen­sive pres­sure so all credit to them.

“The girls will look for some re­demp­tion next sea­son and they’ll put a rea­son­ably good side to­gether again.

“It’s a shame we couldn’t get a double header with the boys, but that’s the way it goes.”

Awards

Pick­ert re­ceived ex­tra recog­ni­tion for his stand­out sea­son dur­ing Satur­day night’s pre­sen­ta­tion cer­e­mony.

Pick­ert was named league MVP and was also the north­west con­fer­ence lead­ing point-scorer.

Pick­ert, Lovel and Ge­or­gia His­cock re­ceived spe­cial jer­seys af­ter win­ning all-star five se­lec­tion for the con­fer­ence.

PRE­MIERS: 2017-18 Coun­try Basketball League north-west con­fer­ence pre­miers, Hor­sham Hor­nets, cel­e­brate de­feat­ing Bendigo in Satur­day night’s grand fi­nal.

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