BRAD COLE & JARRYD MCGUANE THE ADVOCATE The North-West Tall Timbers Thunder have had their season finished in the most heartbreaking of fashion, going down by just one point to Dandenong in Saturday night’s SEABL first semi-final.
With the Rangers holding a 92-91 lead after Jorden Page’s field goal, the Thunder came out of a time-out with 11 seconds remaining in the game.
Ben Richmond successfully inbounded the ball to Daniel Sepokas, who then was able penetrate the key, attract the Dandenong defence and pass off to Jeremiah Ingram.
But Ingram’s seemingly simple lay-up attempt bounced off the ring, and the following tip-in shot from Chudier Pal also fell short, allowing the Rangers to clear from the rebound and book a south conference preliminary final against Hobart, who lost 81-77 to Ballarat.
Thunder coach Sam Armstrong did not believe the game came down to one or two plays, saying it was the execution of multiple plays down the stretch that cost them the contest.
“There were a few mental errors that cost us and in close games like Saturday’s game, you need to be able to execute down the stretch.”
The game was tight throughout with the Rangers leading at half time 53-52, before the Thunder took a 70-68 lead into the final break and pushed the lead out to 77-72 in the last term.
Dandenong’s Page become the hero in the home stretch, as his hot shooting became the difference.
Once again the Thunder had an even spread of scorers, with six players in double figures led by Sepokas with 18 points, Pal with 15 points, Simpson with 13 points and Richmond with 11 points.
The difference in finals basketball was evident for Armstrong, but credited his team for the quality performance they put on the floor.
“Finals basketball is different and the boys felt that and the Rangers definitely played us differently.
“I was proud of their efforts and position we got ourselves into, just without sealing the deal.”
Armstrong said his staff would now work towards getting the squad put together for the 2018 season.
“The club has some decisions to make when it comes to the direction the club moves in the future.