On Saturday night, the Ringwood Hawks paid tribute on the 20th Anniversary of the 1999 Hawks team that won the Club's first ever senior State Championship. The current crop of Hawks found a special and unexpected way to honour that team with a magnificent second half against the North-West Tasmania Thunder.
The Thunder came to The Rings stadium determined to grab a win as they still had a chance to grab a finals spot with just 2 rounds remaining. From the tip off they looked like taking care of the Hawks and quickly built a lead. The Hawks looked out of sync and struggled to make shots. The game looked like being a disaster as at quarter time the Hawks trailed by 17 points, with just 9 points on the board.
The second quarter saw the Hawks gradually start to have an impact on the game, but despite showing some positive signs, the half time score was still ugly as the Hawks still trailed by 17.
At half time the Hawks needed to make changes and Head Coach Ken Harrington and his Assistant Coach Damien Smith had the perfect story for their team.
“Ironically, we had the 1999 guys in the building and we talked about the guys that year who travelled to Shepparton for a knock out final and fell behind 20 to 2 in the first quarter.” Harrington said.
“Those guys put their head down and increased their intensity and effort and came back for a win that eventually lead to a Championship. Our boys took that back on the court.”
From the moment the third quarter started, the Hawks had a very different look about them. The confidence started to build and then the defensive intensity came led by the team’s youngest player, Matthew Roberts. Roberts was not born when the 99 team where at their peak, but he provided instant impact scoring a quick nine points as well as causing some issues for the Thunder's offense. Adrien Sturt (16 Points), Matt Fennell (18 Points) and Shaun Clarke also found the range and at three quarter time the game was all tied up. The Hawks had produced their best 10 minutes of basketball for the season.
With the 99 team sitting baseline, the Hawks were not about to let this one slip. Imports Jacob Gibson and Joey Miller started to provide scoring and also assists to Sturt and Fennell who both looked dangerous. This game belonged to the Hawks who nailed 33 points in the last quarter and won by 14 points.
“Really proud of these guys tonight, after the season we have had, we could have packed it in at quarter time and quit.” team veteran Matt Snow said.
“We definitely knew those 99 guys were watching closely so we needed to show them something and also give our home fans something to cheer about as it was our last home game this year.”
The Hawks will finish their season next Sunday when they visit the Dandenong Rangers. The Rangers are another team that look like playing in the finals so the Hawks will need to be up for another challenge.
RINGWOOD HAWKS 90 (Fennell 18, Sturt 16, Gibson 16, Miller 15, Roberts 9, Clarke 7, Latham 6, Truman 3) defeated NORTH-WEST TASMANIA THUNDER 76 (Banyard 22, Bowling 15) at The Rings.
Dandenong V Ringwood at Dandenong
Sunday 21st at 2pm