A wounded and battered Bathurst Goldminers outfit couldn’t defy the odds in their last round of Basketball NSW’s Waratah Youth League men’s second division on the weekend, their season coming to an end with back-to-back losses.
Crucial missed baskets in the final quarter cost the Goldminers in Saturday’s home game against Illawarra Hawks Red, leading to a heartbreaking 75-73 defeat that ended the Bathurst team’s finals hopes with one match still to play.
The Goldminers were able to match it with the Hawks but with Illawarra’s defence taking Will Cranston-Lown out of the contest and a returning Matt Gray still carrying jet lag, it was always going to be a tough ask.
With nothing left to play for but pride, only five fully-fit Miners players made the trip to Sunday’s game against the St George Saints at Minto.
The Saints – still playing for a finals spot of their own – crushed the Goldminers 106-55 as Liam Angelis channelled his inner Steph Curry to make it rain from beyond the arc, dropping a whopping 13 three-pointers.
“We threw everything at them but missing Kobe (Mansell), Zak (Simons) and Ben (Matthews) really hurt us,” Goldminers coach Andrew Osborn said of the Hawks game, referencing the Country Championship League finals which took several of his players away.
“Illawarra was the game we had to win. Unfortunately we missed those crucial shots at the end.”
Goldminers held a 38-34 lead at half-time but Hawks took control of the game in the next quarter.
The game levelled out midway through the last quarter but the Hawks held their nerve when it mattered most.
Against the Saints on Sunday, with no fit reserves, the Goldminers were never in the contest.
“With the five we had and with the way they were feeling it was pretty much a foregone conclusion that St George were going to win,” Osborn said.
“[Angelis] shot the lights out and the coach said to me afterwards that’s the best his entire side have shot all season.
“You could see from the time they were warming up that they had turned up ready to play.
“It’s disappointing that our season ended that way. If I could have fielded the side that I had against Shoalhaven all season then we would have been in the play-offs.
“In this season we’ve beaten teams like Shoalhaven and Comets, who have made play-offs. We knew Matt was leaving and that Will was going to be out across July.
“Those two things, coupled with the CCL, just made things that much harder for us.”