In a funny way, it was the perfect end to the season for the luckless Ringwood Hawks on Sunday when they lost in overtime to the finals bound Dandenong Rangers.
The Hawks were down to just 8 fit players for the game with import and leading scorer Jacob Gibson pulling out pre game. Gibson was laid up at home with the flu and forced to watch the game on the live feed from his bedroom. The Hawks import would have been impressed with his teams fighting spirit though as the Hawks showed early on that they had come to cause an upset.
Shaun Clarke (24 points and 9 rebounds) and Adrien Sturt (20 points and 6 rebounds) set the scene by both scoring freely in the first quarter and the Hawks grabbed the early lead. The Rangers needed to win to seal a spot in the play offs and quickly answered with a run and at quarter time it was Ringwood by a point.
The game stayed close in the second quarter and in the third until the Rangers grabbed a 9 point run just before 3 quarter time to lead by 6.
The stage was set for a big last quarter and the Hawks looked to Matt Snow (14 points and 10 assists) and Matt Fennell (23 points and 15 rebounds) to provide the spark. The game was on a knife edge, both teams hitting big shots till eventually the Hawks had the ball with 11 seconds left and 3 points down. Snow, did as he done so many times before, created an open shot for a teammate, and it was Joey Miller who nailed the three to send the game to overtime.
With the Rangers now feeling the pressure, Ringwood jumped to an early lead in the overtime period. The game then changed when controversial fouls were called on Adrien Sturt and Matt Fennell, which sent them to the bench both having fouled out. The scoring options dried up and the Hawks eventually fell by 6 points.
“That game was the story of our season.” Hawks Centre Shaun Clarke said.
“We were just never able to get that 50/50 call or that important shot to drop when we needed it.”
The Hawks finish the season with 6 wins and 14 losses but could have easily been a finals contender if they could have kept their full roster of the court. Only 2 games this season did the Hawks have a full roster at their disposal and on many occasions were missing 2 or three key players. Their focus will now turn to next season as the Hawks look to make some changes to give themselves a chance to compete for an NBL1 Championship.
RINGWOOD 105 (Clarke 24, Fennell 23, Sturt 20, Snow 14, Miller 14, Truman 7, Latham 4) lost to DANDENONG 111 (Froling 17, Kernich-Drew 16) in Overtime at Dandenong Stadium.