DEFYING the odds was the theme of the weekend for the Shoalhaven Tigers during their 2021 Southern Junior League finals.
This was optimised most by Luke Royston's under 14 boys division one side at the Snakepit.
Starting at the weekend as the fourth-placed qualifier, the young Tigers were tasked with a must-win situation.
First up was a clash with third-placed Canberra Gunners White, which they won 57-48.
This progressed them into the semi-final against Canberra Gunners Navy, who had just lost their major semi-final 51-30 against Albury.
But the Tigers rode that momentum and defeated the Gunners by six (54-48), to progress to the big dance.
Waiting there was the Cougars - a side who'd gotten the better of the Tigers on both occasions this campaign.
Those games meant little and the Tigers squad, consisting of Charlie Fay, Mitchell Parrott, Alex Field, Brayden Daly, Bow Mills, Harry Frew, Ezra Baldwin, Nate Rees, Toby Royston and James Speer, produced one of their strongest games of the season, to edge the top-ranked Cougars 53-49, to secure the under 14s SJL title for the first time since 2012.
Not to be outdone was fellow Tigers outfit, the under 14 girls - coached by Kelly Doll.
After finishing the Basketball NSW regular season in second on the division two ladder, the Tigers took on Wagga Wagga in the major semi-final.
In a tight contest, the Tigers held their nerve 32-30, to progress to the grand final.
Wagga Wagga then had to take on Illawarra, who had just edged Moss Vale 33-31 in the minor semi-final.
The Blaze took care of business against the Hawks 39-31, to set up a Snakepit showdown with the Tigers - marking the fifth time the teams had played in 2021.
Unfortunately, the Tigers fell just short of capping off their season with a gold medal, losing the decider 32-26 to the Blaze.
Other teams to reach the SJL finals weekend include Mark Alfarno's under 16 boys and Greg David's under 18 boys.
The former first defeated Albury 65-55 in the minor semi-final at the Shoalhaven Indoor Sports Centre before going down 83-65 to Wagga Wagga in the preliminary final - with Illawarra eventually winning the division thanks to a 74-55 win in the decider.
While the latter was knocked out in the minor semi-final by Moss Vale 84-45.