HORSHAM Hornets produced their best performance of the season to win a tough match against Colac Kookas at Horsham Basketball Stadium on Saturday night.
Pitted against Colac’s star 203-centimetre big-man Liam McInerney – who has college basketball experience in the US – and missing their own centre Jake Hobbs, the Hornets looked potentially vulnerable inside.
Despite the size mismatch, Stuart Robinson, Jon Schwarz, Jonothan Lovel and even Matt Lovel – who gave away more than 15 centimetres to McInerney – took turns guarding the big man and restricted him to 14 points.
At the other end of the court, the Hornets were boosted by the return of guard Darcy Tucker from a thumb injury.
Tucker and fellow guards Cam Bruce and Tim Pickert combined for 43 points in one of the Hornets’ trademark even-scoring spreads.
Tim Friend chimed in with 11 points and Matt Lovel had nine, while his brother Jonothan scored six points in his first game for the season.
Assistant coach Steve Bruce said the Hornets led from wire to wire and the final 77-70 score did not truly reflect the team’s dominance.
He said if not for a few missed shots at the end, his team could have easily won the game by 20 points.
“It’s probably the best game we’ve played all year in terms of the effort over the number of minutes,” he said.
Bruce said the inclusions of Tucker and Lovel gave the team more depth and flexibility.
He said Tucker’s shooting touch from beyond the three-point line would be important for the Hornets this season.
The Hornets kept their place atop the Country Basketball League South West Conference ladder with the win.
It was another tough week for Stawell Wildcats, who played the Kookas on Sunday afternoon and were beaten 112-58.
Wildcats coach Ben Leslie admitted it was a tough loss for the team but he took heart from the fact that his charges never gave up.
Rory Jones was again the standout for the Wildcats with 19 points.
Leslie said his team had plenty to work on after the performance but said his players could use the game as an opportunity to make themselves better.
Horsham and Stawell will both play at home again at the weekend with the Hornets hosting Terang Tornadoes on Saturday night at Horsham Basketball Stadium before Terang plays in Stawell on Sunday.