Basketball: Hunters primed to end Crusader’s finals bid
HIGH HOPES: Newcastle Hunters coach Darren Nichols.
NEWCASTLE Hunters hope they have at least one more upset in them before the end of their Waratah Basketball League men’s championship campaign.
Fresh from their shock 85-79 victory over Maitland Mustangs at Maitland last Saturday, which ensured the Kibble Mallon Cup stayed in Newcastle, the Hunters will again take a nothing-to-lose attitude into their game against southern neighbours Central Coast Crusaders at Terrigal at 6pm on Saturday.
There will be no trophy at stake against eighth-placed Central Coast (9-9) but Newcastle (3-15) will do their best to keep the Crusaders out of the play-offs.
Central Coast must win their last two games against Newcastle and fourth-placed Hornsby (11-7) but also need either fifth-placed Maitland (10-8) or sixth-placed Manly (10-8) to not win another game.
Maitland (Saturday) and Manly (Sunday) both play last-placed Sutherland (2-15) this weekend then play each other at Northern Beaches Indoor Sports Centre next Saturday.
As well as breaking an 11-game losing streak, Newcastle’s victory over Maitland last Saturday meant they edged past Sutherland to climb out of the basement.
“Beating Maitland and keeping the Kibble Mallon Cup was a great reward for our sustained effort during a tough run of results in the past couple of months,” coach Darren Nichols said.
“It also got us off the bottom of the ladder and we don’t want to drop back to last and undo all the good work and improvement we’ve shown during the season.
“Crusaders are a tough side and they’re still in the hunt for the top six. We know what’s waiting for us at Gosford so we’ve got to bring our hard hats and muscle up.”
Central Coast, led by Mitchell Rueter, Callum Jenkins and James Trustum, over-powered Newcastle 84-66 at Broadmeadow on April 29. The Crusaders have won their past two games, including a 92-63 demolition of second-placed Bankstown (13-6) at Terrigal last Sunday.
Newcastle will be without captain Ben Hawkesley and n Goannas representative Lachlan Jackson but guard Jacob Foy, who sustained a cut above his eye from a stray Tyler Monroe elbow at Maitland last Saturday, is a certain starter.
The Hunters women, who cannot make the play-offs to defend their title, have a bye this weekend before winding up on the road against Norths next Saturday.