By Rory Coleman-Heard – The Kalgoorlie Miner
5th August 2019
The Northern Star Resources Goldfields Giants are “hurting” after an agonising four-point loss in Saturday’s opening State Basketball League quarter-final against Lakeside Lightning at Niels Hansen Basketball Stadium.
Goldfields had the game by the scruff of the neck with eight minutes remaining, holding an eight-point buffer in the early stages of a see-sawing final stanza.
But the Lightning honed their radar, sinking five three-point shots to snatch the memorable 89-85 victory and significantly dent the Giants’ hopes of progressing further in the play-offs.
“To be honest, it stings a fair bit with the players,” coach Wayne Creek said.
“They were genuinely hurting after the game. We came out, we worked hard to erase the half-time deficit, got back in the game, got a run-on in the last quarter and fell short.”
The Giants, playing their first final since 2015, had planned to restrict the space of Lightning stars Jobi Wall (25 points, three assists) and John Isenbarger (16 points, three rebounds, five assists).
By and large, the plan had worked and was still yielding dividends, until the influential pair put on the afterburners.
Wall was dominant from beyond the arc, notching 12 final-quarter points in a match-winning display of long-range shooting.
“We really didn’t want to sag away from Wall and Isenbarger and through the flow of the game, we did at inopportune times,” Creek said.
“They’re both quality players and they made their shots at important times. What can you say?”
Jay Bowie (21 points, 11 rebounds, six assists) and Manylok Malek (19 points, 10 rebounds) were Goldfields’ stand-outs, while Patrick Burke (19 points, six rebounds) fought through tight defensive attention to have an impact.
Though happy with his team’s execution of the game plan, Creek said a string of errors proved the difference in a tight contest.
“For the most part of the game, it was well controlled,” Creek said.
“We controlled the tempo, we pushed and ran when we needed to and, generally, we defended quite well.
“There was probably a couple of key things during the game. A turnover here, a missed shot there . . . You know, Brandon (Holloway) hit a buzzer-beater three and we got penalised for a block. They moved the ball down the end and scored two, so that’s a five-point turnaround.
“But in terms of the game, the guys played very, very good basketball. As disappointing as it is, it’s hard to be mad or frustrated or anything like that.”
Goldfields will travel to the Lakeside Recreation Centre this week, for the second game of the best-of-three quarter final series.