Western Manager Katrina Ferris had a primary goal for the 2012 NSW Combined High Schools Girls Basketball Championships.
Improve on last year.
And a courageous effort by her side in yesterday’s final pool match has ensured that she will leave the PCYC Stadium today a satisfied woman.
Starting the day needing at least two wins from three games for any realistic chance of qualifying for the semi-finals, Western stumbled in their early matches.
A narrow loss to Sydney West (51-43) was followed by a 82-38 thrashing at the hands of perennial powerhouses Sydney South West.
This left the girls out of semi-final contention and requiring a win in their last pool game, against North Coast, to qualify for the seventh-eighth play-off and a guarantee of improving on 2011’s 10th place.
They had to call on every ounce of commitment and passion, but they got there.
Trailing 27-30 at half time and 42-50 at the final break, Western staged a dramatic comeback to secure a last gasp 61-58 victory which ensured they will face Riverina at 10.30am today for seventh place overall.
Ferris was loathe to pinpoint individual players in what was a fantastic team effort, but was eventually persuaded to identify Bathurst’s Hannah Lepaio and Claire Woolmington as keys to the win.
“Their experience at the death was really important for us,” Ferris explained.
“Just staying cool and calm in a tense situation is often the most important thing.”
Lepaio was particularly dominant, pulling down rebounds and nailing free throws as Western overcame a ten-point deficit in the final term.
Today’s action will commence with the two semi-finals at 9am, with undefeated South Coast favoured to topple Sydney East, and the equally impressive Sydney South West side short odds to account for Sydney North.
In the competition’s other games to sort the minor placings, Hunter and Sydney West will play-off for fifth, and North West will face North Coast for 10th.
Both games will start at 10.30am.
The final will be played at noon.