No prize despite gallant effort

A CLOSE to season-best performance has delivered Colac Kookas more frustration.

The Kookas remain on the outer in the race for a Country Basketball League south-west conference finals berth after succumbing to Mount Gambier Lakers yesterday.

The basketballers matched the Country Basketball League powerhouse throughout their physical tussle at Colac’s Bluewater Fitness Centre.

Kooka Matt O’Dowd attempts to block a Mount Gambier opponent at Bluewater Fitness Centre yesterday.

But they couldn’t convert effort into victory, falling short 82-90 against the taller and more experienced Lakers.

Colac had five wins from 10 matches and sat on the fringe of the top four pre-Christmas, but will have dropped back after their loss.

Coach Justin Williamson was full of praise for his troops’ effort and intensity, admitting he was surprised at how close they came to the unbeaten Lakers.

But his voice was tinged with disappointment given Colac led 42-39 at half time, on the back of a 26-15 second term, and was within three points midway through the final quarter.

Colac lost to Mount Gambier 47-101 in the second match of a November double-header without Williamson, Matt Lucas, Nathan Lemke, Ben Martin and Matt O’Dowd.

Luke Hillman rushes to the basket.

“I was hoping to get close but I didn’t expect we’d be that close. Having said that, we haven’t had a full team in against them,” Williamson said.

“That makes a big difference for us. Coming back from Christmas has been good for us, too. We did well to have the legs to run out with them,” he said.

“I was really, really happy with the way the boys have played.”

Williamson, who fouled out in the last quarter, said inexperience hurt the Kookas down the stretch with the game on the line.

The Lakers who took to the court are fringe players for Mount Gambier’s South-East Australia Basketball League team.

A second-half shooting display from Simon Berkefield, who netted the Lakers’ first 11 points after the main break to swing momentum the Lakers’ way, also proved decisive.

“What we know about Mount Gambier is they transition the ball from defence to offence really well,” Williamson said.

“We stopped that in the first half and for four or five-minute periods in the second half we didn’t,” he said.

“That comes down to experience. They have a SEABL team and have a lot of set plays and have been training for months before the season started.”

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