THE Kennedy’s Tours Shoalhaven Tigers have suffered their first loss of the 2018 Waratah League division two youth men’s competition, at the hands of the Sydney Comets.
Going into the clash at the Alexandria Basketball Stadium, the Tigers were on an 11-game winning streak, but this meant little to the fifth placed Comets, who won 82-76 on Sunday.
A slow start from the cubs saw them trail by as many as 15 points in the first quarter but a time-out and some line up changes by coach Scott Balsar saw them claw back to be only down 27-16 at the end of the first quarter.
The visitors started the second like a house on fire, posting six quick points to narrow the margin to just five.
The cubs continued their surge and on the back of their defensive pressure, they regained the lead, thanks to a 10-0 run, fuelled by Bruce Ozolins and Brayden Morris – seeing the black and gold go into the main break up 41-39.
After the resumption, Balsar’s troops again started strongly, extending the lead to nine before a Comets fightback got the margin back to just two.
Jeremy Harding was the star of the term, proving a handful for the Comets defence but some late lapses at the end of the third quarter by his team, saw the lead reduced to just three points, heading into the fourth.
The final term was a see-sawing affair, with the lead changing hands on a number of occasions.
With two minutes left on the clock, the scores were tied 74-all.
Unfortunately, the cubs struggled to convert their chances in the final minutes, while the Comets hit a number of big shots down the stretch.
Despite a late three point play by Ozolins, the Comets held on for a six point win – handing Balsar and his team their first loss of the season.
“This was a really tough game and I know the boys will learn from it,” Balsar said.
“It will enable us to regroup and evaluate – it’s not the end of our season, we just have to use it as a learning curve and work harder and focus on our next game.
“We are sitting on top of the ladder still, so teams are coming out each week wanting to knock us of the perch – we have a target on our backs.
“So we have to be able to handle the adversity and the toughness of each game.
“Nothing’s going to be given to us on a silver platter, we have to earn it no matter what.”
In the loss, the Tigers were led by Riley O’Shannessy (20 points), Ozolins (15) and Harding (14).
Balsar’s troops next play St George at the Tigers Den on Saturday from 4pm.
“We have to move on and get ready for our next battle against the seventh placed Saints, who are on a winning streak as well,” he said.
“Every team in our league can beat anyone on any given day, so we need to be prepared – we will watch tape and make adjustments on Wednesday night at practice and be ready come Saturday.”