Defence crucial in Kookas’ debut final

Teenage Colac Kookas Luke Hillman, Shaun Dell and Hamish Gleeson are gearing up for tomorrow night’s Country Basketball League south-west conference semi-final.

TOUGH defence will be on the agenda for both Colac and Corio Bay in tonight’s Country Basketball League semi-final.

The second-placed Kookas will make their first finals appearance in history tomorrow night when they host dual state champion Corio Bay at Colac’s Bluewater Fitness Centre.

Both teams are wary of their opposition’s ability to find the basket, and Stingrays coach Paul Hutchison predicted “whichever team plays the better D” would win the game.

Point guards loom as the players to stop, with Stingray Stefan Osborne, 23.4 points per game, and Kooka Marcus Larcombe, 23.1, leading their teams’ scoring.

Colac’s second leading scorer Nathan Lemke, 17.8, returns to the Kookas in a major boost for the team after missing the past three weeks with a holiday.

“It’s going to be close, both teams have got good scorers and wily veterans in there,” Hutchison said.

“If we can do the job and keep Larcombe’s points down and young Nathan Lemke – he hurt us last time – we should do okay even though they’ve got guys stepping up every week,” he said.

“Both teams’ offence is strong, I think whichever team plays the best D is going to win.”

Little has separated the teams all season – both finished with an 8-6 record with Colac’s superior percentage landing it second spot and a homecourt advantage in the semi-final.

The teams have a 1-1 record from their 2011-12 encounters after the Stingrays claimed an 11-point win at Geelong in round one, before the Kookas got one back by nine points in Colac in round four.

“It’s good to know you’ve won the last one but we won’t be getting too ahead of ourselves,” Kookas coach Justin Williamson said.

“We’ll just keep the defence tight and hope to stop their outside shots,” he said.

“We want to stick to our game, run our offence and be patient – if we stick to that we should give ourselves a good chance to come up trumps.”

The winner of tomorrow night’s 7pm clash will advance to the south-west conference grand final at Hamilton against the winner of tomorrow’s Mount Gambier-Hamilton semi-final.

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