JARRYD MCGUANE THE ADVOCATE North West Tall Timbers Thunder coach Sam Armstrong was proud with the effort of his team despite giving up a 15-point three-quarter time lead in their 89-81 loss to the Dandenong Rangers on Saturday night.
Armstrong said it was a mix of fatigue and defensive breakdowns that lead to the lopsided last quarter after a strong third quarter.
“It was a combination of a few things, we did some really good work in the third quarter and played our best third quarter of basketball that we have played all year,” Armstrong said.
“We came out in the fourth and I think we got hit with a little bit of fatigue, our decision making was not great and then we probably lacked some defensive intensity.
“So between lacking a little bit on the defensive end and some of our decision making, we let a really good basketball team back into the game.”
Though disappointed in the end result of the game, Armstrong believed his guys were the better team on the court and were showing improvement.
“I want it to be known, I was really proud of our guys on Saturday night, we were the better team for three quarters.
“We played a really good brand of basketball in a really tough environment, especially after Friday night and our guys came in played really well as a group.
“We played some of our best basketball that we have all year and I don’t think the last quarter will define our season by any stretch.
“It is a real learning experience for us all, as well myself as a coach.”
The Thunder were without experience squad members Ben Richmond and Joe Chilcott for the trip to victory, leaving the team with a lot of youth on the bench.
Armstrong said while it is often difficult for younger players in back-to-back situations, his guys are not willing to use it as an excuse.
“We are a young group, but those guys don’t treat it like they are young.
“They treat it like they are legitimate SEABL basketballers and they are open for challenges and that is why they are a fun group to coach.”
Mason Bragg led the Thunder’s scoring with 29 points and Jeremiah Ingram added 19 points, though Armstrong was also happy with the spread of contributors.
“I thought Mason’s game was solid through the point guard spot and played heavy minutes and his game was pretty consistent on both ends.
“Between him and Jeremiah, it was pretty solid. But what we find now is that we have an even contribution, not just points, but guys are playing really consistent roles for us.”