Coaches finds positives in finals loss

Colac coaches Justin Williamson, pictured, and Matt Lucas say the Kookas will benefit from their breakthrough 2011-12 season.

COLAC basketball coaches preferred to look at the positives than the negatives following the Kookas’ Country Basketball League finals defeat.

The Kookas fell one game short of making a grand final berth after an 11-point loss to Corio Bay Stingrays.

But an equal-third-place finish in an eight-team competition is a far better result than the team endured 12 months ago.

After an inaugural winless season, co-coaches Justin Williamson and Matt Lucas set out to be more prepared in season 2011-12, organised pre-season training and secured the services of recruits Marcus Larcombe, Russell Whiteford, Matt Williamson and Matt O’Dowd.

A host of young talent returned from the season before while Luke Hillman stepped into the side from the under-18 side.

The Kookas landed their first win four rounds in, which later led to an 8-6 record earning their spot in finals.

“The season was great, going from last year when we didn’t train at all and just rocked up to the games – that showed in our results,” Lucas said.

“This year we really made a commitment, we had the numbers and got to training and did the work,” he said.

“Everyone enjoyed playing together and got to know each other really well, and we started getting results for the commitment we put in.”

Williamson said the most pleasing thing had been the team’s rapid improvement, to mix it with country Victoria’s top teams.

“As the season went every player grew with it – at the start there were shots going up left, right and centre, now we’re running the offences, driving and dishing,” he said.

Improved results helped build interest in the community, including a packed house at Colac’s Bluewater Fitness Centre for the semi-final clash.

“The association and crowds have been brilliant, hopefully it encourages a few more kids to come through,” Lucas said.

“If we can keep the same core of players for next year we can build on it again next season,” Williamson said.

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