By Trevor Jackson
PORTLAND COASTERS 63 D MOUNT GAMBIER LAKERS 40
AFTER an impressive effort last week to reach the Country Basketball League South West Women’s grand final, the Mount Gambier Lakers women faced a tough Portland Coasters roster and succumbed to a consistent four-quarter effort.
The Lakers could only match the Coasters in the final term when the damage had already been done.
Portland came out firing and controlled the contest for the first three terms, to hold a 22-point advantage at the final break.
That allowed them to relax somewhat as the game wound down, with strong games from Tyleah Barr (21 points) and Sarah Tunstall (11).
For the Lakers, only Tenielle Human (10) reached double figures, after being shut down by the defensive efforts of the Coasters.
Barr was voted MVP for the grand final, while Human made the All Star Five.
For coach Scott O’Connor it was a disappointing end to an otherwise impressive season.
“We knew it was going to be a tough game and we needed to play well,” he said.
“Unfortunately we didn’t.
“We had our chances at times and we didn’t take them.
“Portland is a good enough team to make us pay for that.
“They caused us to throw the ball away too much and took us out of our game quite well.
“They had a really strong performance and we didn’t stand up to the pressure unfortunately.
“It was not the way we wanted to end the season, but overall we had a pretty incredible season.”
O’Connor said there were many opportunities to take the game up to the Coasters, but he said the Lakers girls played a bit flustered.
“We did a good job of getting some looks, but no one really put the ball in the hole at a high rate,” he said.
“We didn’t make many shots and they did a good job of guarding us as a group.
“We didn’t take our chances when we had them and missed some easy opportunities which really costs you against a team like Portland.”
It was always going to be a tough season, with many players unavailable throughout, along with new faces in the group.
“We ended up using about 19 girls for the season and nine qualified for finals,” O’Connor said.
“We used a lot of bodies and did not have a great deal of consistency until after Christmas.
“With the Tenison tour and other commitments, using girls living in Adelaide going to Uni, it is difficult to get some consistency.
“After Christmas we were able to get a consistent group and show what basketball we were capable of playing.
“That took us through to a grand final which is great.
“We were able to clutch out some wins early and that put us in a position where we were able to strike after Christmas and get some more wins and momentum going into finals.”
O’Connor said unfortunately the girls did not show the best basketball they could play in the big game, but he said thropughout the season they had proven what standard they could produce.
“I told the girls not to let one performance take away from what has been an incredible year,” he said.
“Even some of the losses we had, on road trips with only five players, the basketball we have been playing has been good, but we had a rough one in the grand final.
“But to go from not really having a team, with no consistent players, to turn around and get to a grand final is incredible.
“Hopefully we can convince some girls in the off season how fun it can be and we can recruit a bit better for next season.”
O’Connor said throughout the season there were many highlights, including Tenielle Human who had an impressive year of basketball, with an average around 15 points per game.
“Tenielle’s consistent performance was a hbighlight for us,” he said.
“She has been incredible for the group and sets high standards at training as well as games.
“The way the girls have got on board and continued to work hard has been great.
“Then there were people like Emily Dawe and Claire Hunter coming back in holidays to pitch in.
“It’s moments like that make the season.”