The Tall Timbers Smithton Saints Under 14 boys have taken out the TJBL Northern Conference Division One Grand Final after defeating the Burnie Tigers in a three point thriller on September 20 in Devonport.
The two teams had met three times prior to Sunday’s Grand Final with Burnie coming out on top on all three occasions, the latest being a 19 point victory in the Preliminary Final 2 weeks ago forcing Smithton to go the long way around to reach the big dance.
Both teams traded baskets throughout the match with the Saints getting the upper hand early in the first quarter before Burnie slowly pegged it back to be leading the Saints by one point at quarter time.
Nash Walker continued his solid season form keeping the scoreboard ticking over and allowing the Saints some breathing space before the Tigers once again pegged it back to be leading by one point at the main break.
Walker's ability to bring his team mates into the game shone through in the third quarter allowing Kohan Bishop and Nate Airey the opportunity to flex their muscles at the offensive end. Although the effort was there, it was the Tigers again holding the upper hand going into three quarter time with a six point margin.
Enter Malachi Sheehan! The defensive pressure applied by Sheehan during the last quarter, combined with Walker’s domination at both ends of the floor had the large contingent of Saints fans daring to dream! With a minute left on the clock, Walker hit a floater down the middle of the key to tie things up and as the fairytale would have it, the ball found its way into Walker’s hands once more with 23 seconds left on the clock.
Draining a long three pointer right in front of the Smithton bench it was enough to put the icing on the cake as the Smithton Saints defeated the Burnie Tigers 55-52 in a huge team effort.
Coach D'asia Chambers was ecstatic after the game claiming her first ever Championship as a coach and Team Manager Jess O'Halloran shed tears of joy as she watched our future stars stamp their authority on the Basketball Tasmania landscape.
The Under 12 Boys were also victorious, taking out the first ever TJBL North Conference Division Two Shield after the North West Basketball Union became the North West Basketball Association and switched into two conferences over the off season.
Dominating the offensive rebound was key to Smithton’s success, having most of the possession in the first quarter and utilising it to secure a handy lead early in the match.
The Saints had put up a very comfortable 12 point lead before the Devonport Warriors scored their second basket of the day, giving Smithton the freedom to play a defensive game and utilise its full bench rotation.
The Warriors gained momentum towards the end of the first quarter but Smithton put the foot to the floor in the second quarter and earned themselves a 22 point lead at the main break.
Determined not to go down without a fight the Warriors were fierce in the third, boxing out Smithton and keeping them to just two buckets for the quarter.
Fortunately the Saints sizeable lead proved to be too big of an obstacle and Smithton claimed the shield.
The Tall Timbers Smithton Saints Under 14 Boys took out the win on Sunday despite being down by two points with a minute to spare.