HORSHAM’S Lady Hornets gained valuable experience during a narrow loss to the Portland Coasters at home on Saturday night.
The match was the Lady Hornets’ first in the Country Basketball League’s South West Conference, after they played in the North West division last year.
The Coasters were in control early and went into the first break up 12-6.
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Faith McKenzie hit the scoreboard at the start of the second quarter to cut the margin, but Portland managed to keep pushing out the lead little by little.
The margin was 10 with about two minutes to play before the Lady Hornets rallied to pull it back to five by half-time.
The Coasters’ Taylah Nelson sunk consecutive threes at the start of the second half, but again the Lady Hornets were able to slowly reel the margin back in.
The teams traded goals in the final quarter until the Coasters started to get on top again with about four minutes to play.
But some superb work from Horsham’s Ema Iredell – with nine points in the final two and a half minutes – cut the Coasters’ lead to six at the final whistle.
Lady Hornets coach Damien Kilpatrick said there was plenty to learn from the loss.
“We had a lot of turnovers during the match, but there’s a lot of positives to take away,” he said.
“It was our first time together, and we had three of our most experienced players out.
“To have someone like Liv Jones – who averages 14 to 15 points a game – out of the team makes a big difference, as does not having the experience of Jess Cannane and Shannon Reinheimer.
“Portland had four girls taller than our centre.
“We’re not going to make excuses though. We had opportunities, but just didn’t execute.
“That will come with more hard work, more training, and learning more about how each other plays.
“At one stage it was looking like we might go down by 20 to 25 points, and to the girls’ credit they fought and came back again and again.”
Kilpatrick said he was pleased to get minutes into young players Georgie Carberry and Stephanie Glover.
“Steph only got a minute to give her a quick taste, and it was good to get Georgie out there – she hasn’t played for a few years. And I’ve only seen glimpses of Faith playing over the years.
“I played majority of them out of their natural position on Saturday night to have a look at them. So for many of them, it was all new.”
Kilpatrick said Iredell was a standout for his team.
“It’s a credit to her and her fitness that in the last three of four minutes of the game, when everyone else was dropping off on both teams, she was starting to get better,” he said.
“She played 40 minutes – she didn't come to the bench once.
“It wasn’t just her work in offence that was impressive; her defensive efforts playing on someone six inches taller than her were exceptionally good.
“I was very happy with her performance.”
Kilpatrick said the team would only improve from now, and would focus on its man-on-man defence particularly.
“The result wasn’t what we were after, but I'm not disappointed,” he said. “Yes we’ve had a loss, but we fought hard and we'll get better.”