COLAC Kookas survived a late scare from winless Horsham to secure a valuable road victory heading into the Country Basketball League Christmas break.
Centre Nathan Lemke stepped up in the absence of co-coach Justin Williamson, who fell ill during the trip down and coached the match from the sideline.
Guard Russell Whiteford, 10 points, also battled valiantly to help set up a 24-point lead midway through the third term.
But the Hornets, led by crafty guards Jarred Ohayon, 20, and Cam Bruce, 14, cut through the Kookas’ defence and reduced Whiteford and Marcus Larcombe to foul trouble before the pair fouled out late in the clash.
Horsham outscored the away team by eight points playing desperate for its breakthrough win, but the cool heads of Lemke, who scored and game-high 25 points including a three-pointer, and co-coach Matt Lucas buoyed the side and ensured the Kookas returned to the winners’ list.
“Matty’s defence and just the intensity on his D was impressive, everyone needs to take a leaf out of his book,” Williamson said.
“He works really hard, he’s never relaxed, everyone was doing that in bits tonight but it’s the 40-minute thing, Matty was doing it for the whole game,” he said.
Colac heads into the break with a 5-5 record while victory still eludes the Hornets – something the Kookas of season 2010-11 can empathise with.
“It’s always good to have a win, especially for the last game of the year,” Williamson said.
“It probably could have been a little bit better of a win in the long run but it’s still a win – points on the board, that’s what we really need,” he said.
“There’s probably a few things we need to work on a little bit over the break but all in all it wasn’t too bad of a game, we just need to run the offences a bit more and don’t fall into that run-and-gun basketball.”
The Kookas return for round nine of the CBL season on January 8 when they meet ladder-leader Mount Gambier at Colac’s Bluewater Fitness Centre.