SCOTT Balsar and his Illawarra Hawks youth men's side slumped to their first loss of the season on Saturday, going down 90-63 to the Blacktown Storm.
At the Snakepit, the two Waratah League sides traded baskets in the opening quarter, before a 5-0 run by the Storm saw them go into the first break up 21-16.
That lead stretched out to 15 midway through the second period, before the hosts, featuring Shoalhaven pair Gavin Costain and Ziad El Tobgy, rallied and scored the last nine points of the term to go into half-time down 45-36.
The Storm didn't take the foot off the throat in the third, extending their lead 23 points going into the final break - after ending the period on a 13-1 run.
That quarter proved the difference, as the visitors ran out 27 points winners on the day, thanks to 20 points from Hayden Blankley.
"Blacktown controlled the tempo from start to finish," coach Balsar said.
"We had a late spurt in the second to get the deficit to nine points but a poor start to our third saw the score blow out again to 20 plus.
"I'm extremely disappointed with our offensive execution - we ran a lot of eight-second offences, which then escalated to us playing more defence.
"Blacktown is super quick and every time we took an early or bad shot, they were running back at us.
"We found it extremely hard to keep them in front of us in the open and half court.
"The points spread was a reflection on how bad we actually played, as I don't believe they are a 30-point better team than us - we were our own worst enemy on the day."
In the loss, Harry Morris (18) and Zac Ottosson (10) were the only two Hawks to reach double figures.
The fifth-placed Hawks (2-1) next face the sixth-placed Comets at Comets Stadium on Saturday from 6pm.
"We just need to execute and handle any pressure that is thrown at us by the Comets," Balsar said.
"Blacktown took us out of our normal rhythm and we didn't handle it well.
"If we can contain their guards and close out on the shooters, we will be in the game - this will be our emphasis at practice.
"It's crucial we win this game, as we head into the toughest road double in the league next weekend, against Newcastle and Central Coast - who are both hot favourites this season."