Both Bathurst Goldminers senior teams into Waratah League finals weekend for first time since 2011

STAR POWER: Orange's Zak Simons has been a revelation for the Bathurst Goldminers this season, leading the side to the semi-finals. Photo: ALEXANDER GRANT

STAR POWER: Orange's Zak Simons has been a revelation for the Bathurst Goldminers this season, leading the side to the semi-finals. Photo: ALEXANDER GRANT

It’s been more than half a decade since the Bathurst Goldminers’ men’s and women’s senior sides won through the finals weekend of the Waratah Basketball League season, 2011 was the last time to be exact.

That drought is over come Saturday, and the club’s hoping titles will come with the landmark double-qualification.

The women’s State League division one side and the men’s Youth League division two squad will both travel to Maitland this weekend for the finale, buoyed by substantial Orange influences.

For the women, Soph Kleeman has been a huge inclusion this season while the likes of Zak Simons, Matt Gray, Kobe Mansell and Harry Betts have dominated in the men’s side.

The minor premier women’s outfit faces the hosts in the semi-finals while men take on Illawarra, with victories they’ll progress to Sunday’s deciders.

Both sides are hoping to go one step further than their 2011 counterparts did, the men losing the decider and the women being halted in the penultimate game.

In 2012 the Bathurst women took out the title, and have gone on to make the finals weekend in all four State League seasons they’ve contested since then.

Women’s co-coach Paul Masters is happy to see that trend continue considering his team’s heavy workload. 

“It’s pretty amazing to get here. We’ve had games where we’ve taken seven or eight girls away and managed to win by 50 points. That’s a very hard thing to do,” he said.

“Some players have other basketball commitments and there’s those at university or those who are working. 

“Matilda Flood has played NSW Country, been at nationals and at CPL on top of her Goldminers duties, and Claire Woolmington plays Panthers league tag and netball for Bathurst.”

For the men it’s been a rocky path back to the finals scene.

Current coach Andrew Osborn was at the helm during the strong 2011 campaign but over the years to come the Bathurst male teams struggled to gain a foothold in their competitions.

Masters said and determined group of players got together at the start of this season to forge a path to finals.

“We went back from State League to Youth League for the men this year. We didn’t decide on that – the players did. The younger boys wanted to put a team together because there wasn’t much of a chance for a start with the older group,” he said.

“They had to come forward and prove to us that they could get a squad together, and they did. Then they needed a coach, and then Andrew Osborn and [assistant coach] Ben Slater put their hands up.

“It was a case of ‘see how they go’ and then the team could reassess their goals. If they finish top two then they have the option to go up to division one next year.”

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