Craigieburn Eagles’ championship hopes came crashing down in the Big V men’s division 2 semi-finals.
The Eagles may have claimed the minor premiership, but it meant little once they took to the court in their best of three semi-final series against Pakenham Warriors.
Game one was one of disappointment as the Eagles had a last quarter fade out.
Leading by 11 points at three-quarter-time, the Eagles scored just five points in the final quarter to lose 73-65.
Back on their home court for game two, and if needed game three, the Eagles were confident they could bounce back and take the series.
They took the early lead and led by two points at the first break, before the Warriors hit back in the second quarter to gain momentum.
The Warriors maintained that lead in the third quarter, as the teams went goal for goal.
As in game one, the Warriors found another gear in the final quarter to put the game out of the Eagles’ reach.
In a high-scoring final quarter, the Warriors slammed on 29 points to the Eagles 19, to win 86-70.
Eagles coach Simon Wilson said they had tried to address last week’s final quarter slump during the week.
“I’m proud of what the boys produced this season,” he said.
“Just down the stretch we weren’t able to match it. We changed the rotations a little bit, but they made some big shots when it counted and that was the difference.”
Four of the five starters for the Eagles scored double figures, but it wasn’t enough.
Liam Watt and Dexter Graham scored 16 points each, Blake Dickinson scored a double-double, and Kewal Shiels contributed 12 points off the bench in 24 minutes.
Wilson said the side prided itself on an even contribution across the board.
Despite the loss, the result is an improvement on last year when the Eagles failed to make finals. Wilson said it was a great step in the development of the side and Craigieburn basketball.
“Looking through the juniors, we’ve got plenty of good junior players coming through,” he said.
“It’s an exciting time for the club as a whole, as an organisation moving forward. The men’s program is part of that.”
Pakenham now plays Collingwood All Stars in the grand final. Wilson expects the Warriors to go all the way.
“They’ve been the favourites all year.”
Meanwhile, Watt is up for three awards at the Big V awards night next month. He’s been nominated for most valuable player, all-star five team and defensive player of the year in division 2.
Coach Simon Wilson has been nominated for coach of the year.
Veteran Kellie Bailey-Lynn has been nominated for the Big V women’s division two top honour. Bailey-Lynn is one of 10 finalists for that division’s most valuable player and all-star five awards. She has played for Craigieburn since she was 14.