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The debate is now over. The Ringwood Hawks have to be considered the greatest team in Big V history after winning a thrilling Grand Final game 2 on Saturday night over the Waverley Falcons, winning their fourth State Championship in just six seasons.
It was a massive crowd at the Rings Stadium with people jammed into every little nook and cranny to catch the action. And to the surprise of everyone, it was the Falcons who came out with all guns blazing and put the Hawks on the back foot. After just 4 minutes of play, the Hawks found themselves trailing 20 to 11 as Waverley were on fire. Hawks Coach Ken Harrington called a quick time out to settle his team who looked a little nervous.
“We could tell the boys were on edge before the game and then the Falcons came out and nailed everything.” Harrington said.
“The time out was a chance to re-focus and remind the guys that it’s a long game and we will settle in, which we did.”
The time out paid dividends, as did the introduction of Nathan Truman (19 points) into the game, who nailed 4 straight shots and the Hawks slowly worked their way back in to the game. The Falcons continued to keep the scoreboard ticking over though as the Hawks experimented with a smaller line up to match up with the fast breaking Falcons strategy. After the first 10 minutes it was Waverley by 6.
Photo Kath Miles
Jacob Gibson (17 points) and Trevor Latham (12 points and 8 rebounds) led the way in the second quarter along with Matt Fennell (17 points and 9 rebounds) who was working hard at both ends of the floor. In what was becoming a tough and physical game, the Hawks turned to the man whose desire and toughness is unmatched and Matt Snowball (14 points, 6 rebounds and 13 assist) started to dominate the game. As both teams headed to the change room at halftime it was now just a 1 point Falcon lead.
“At the half time break, we had a chance to stop and think about it and we all felt we were in a pretty good position.” Snowball explained.
“But this was always going to be a last man standing affair.”
Photo Peter Hynson
The third quarter became a classic basket for basket battle with both offenses on top. Shaun Clarke (7 rebounds) started to dominate the boards and Stefan Osborne (7 points) provided a nice spark off the bench. Waverley continued to change up their defenses, but Ringwood grabbed the lead right on three quarter time.
With the instructions of just win the last quarter, the Hawks drew on the energy of the home crowd and went back in to battle for the last quarter. Thanks to some big baskets from Osborne and then Fennell who drained an off balance three from deep, the Hawks grabbed a 6 point lead with just 24 seconds left. Waverley though managed to hit a three pointer and then hack the ball lose for another quick lay up to make it just a one point game. Snowball was then fouled and went to the foul line and nailed one of his two shots which left the Falcons with 8 seconds to try and send the series to a game 3. Finally the Hawks defense came to the four, as the Falcons struggled to get a good look at a shot and the Hawks had done it again.
This Championship sits nicely next to the 2012, 2014 and 2016 and according to Harrington may be the best.
“This is a team where different players have stepped up at different times and tonight Snowy and Truman were just incredible.”
“They gave Mike McCahey the Finals MVP who was great but that could have easily gone to Snowy. That guy is something else.”
For the second straight season, the Hawks are undefeated through the Finals and this is the first time in Club history that they have won back to back Championships. Seven Grand Final appearances in 9 years and 4 Championships without doubt put this group of Ringwood boys at the top of the best teams to ever play in the Big V.
Grand Final Game 2
RINGWOOD HAWKS 101 (Truman 19, Fennell 17, Gibson 17, Snowball 14, Latham 12, McCahey 10, Osborne 7, Clarke 5) defeated WAVERLEY FALCONS 99 (Arkell 26, Harper 25, Simmons 22) at the Rings (sellout).
Relive the championship win by watching a replay of the live stream here, complete with commentary from Ringwood's own Matt Hickey and Russell Lee.