Storm left to carry local hopes
WHILE the season is over for one Northern Rivers basketball team, another's is on the line this weekend in Lismore.
The Ballina Breakers succumbed to a near NBL-strength Illawarra Hawks in their State League semi-final in Wollongong at the weekend.
However, this Saturday night the Lismore Storm women's team get their own shot at semi-final action.
After stepping off a 12-hour bus trip to Wollongong on Saturday, the Breakers couldn't match Illawarra's finals ferocity and were ambushed 92-54 at the Snakepit.
The Breakers fell behind by seven points at the first break and Illawarra built on the lead at every change.
“Basically the boys just played one of their poorest games all season,” Breakers coach Marty Smith said.
“I don't know whether they were shell-shocked, or weren't expecting such intensity, but the Hawks just came out firing.
“They just played such in-the-face defence that we lost focus of our game plan and tried to rush things too much.”
Illawarra's team included former NBL players Luke Doherty and Rod Johnson.
“They (the Breakers) did a really good job considering they were playing against guys in their 20s and 30s who collectively have had about 400 years experience between them, whereas our boys have only about two or three years,” Smith said.
Meanwhile, the Lismore Storm will take on the vast unknown when they meet the Dubbo Rams in their semi-final in Lismore on Saturday.
Because of the way the State League works, the Rams play in a different geographical pool to the Storm, so the two teams have never met.
“Our only knowledge of them is that they have a player in the top 10 scorers in the State League, but we won't place too much weight on that,” Storm coach Mick Willemsen said.
While most of the Storm had a break from basketball last weekend, youngsters Emma Wilson, Jess Ward and Grace Amey fine-tuned their games with a run in the Northern Junior League.
“We are confident of the work we have done this season and we are feeling excited about the opportunity,” Willemsen said.
“We haven't played in the women's State League finals for over a decade.”