Things didn’t go to plan for Craigieburn Eagles in game one of their Big V men’s division 2 semi-final series against Mildura Heat.
Having made the trip to Mildura, the Eagles were hoping to snatch game one before returning home for game two and, if needed, game three.
But the Eagles were left to pay for a lapse in concentration.
Slow out of the blocks, the Eagles were down by 11 points at the first break.
They bounced back in the next three quarters and even took a one-point lead at one stage, but the Heat stepped it up another level late in the game and won 76-70.
Eagles coach Simon Wilson said playing on the road in the first week of a finals series wasn’t really an advantage.
“We were a bit slow out of the gates and that was the story,” he said.
“We fought really hard and got the momentum going our way, then there was a couple of calls down the stretch that went their way and changed momentum.
“They made a couple of baskets. We got it back to one point, but they hit a three on the buzzer [shot clock] and got it back to a two possession game.”
Damon Smith top-scored with 20 points, while Blake Dickinson chipped in with 15 points.
The loss means the Eagles need to win game two and three or they are out of the finals.
Wilson said he expected the second semi to be another tough game – only 10 points separated the teams in all three regular season games between the Eagles and the Heat.
The second match will be a big weekend for the Eagles, with Mark Welch to play game 200 for the club.
He will be the fourth Eagles player to play game 200 this season.
Wilson said it was good to see him achieve that milestone after a few injury-riddled years.
“He has been a great teammate all these years.”
The Eagles youth league men are out of the finals after a semi-final loss to Frankston Blues 108-77.
Meanwhile, the Eagles have announced that Wilson has signed on for another year as coach.
In his two years in the position so far Wilson has coached the side to two minor premierships.
The Eagles other three Big V coaches have also signed on for another year.