Bears fall at final hurdle
BASKETBALL: The Bundaberg Radiology Bears covered themselves in glory but they fell agonisingly short of an historic Queensland Basketball League women's premiership.
They booked their first grand final berth with a 96-88 ambush of Mackay in Gladstone on Friday night, before backing up for the decider on the same court on Saturday night against home town heroes Port City Power.
They again played their hearts out and were on track for a monumental upset when they led 54-46 at half-time, but the Power turned up the heat with a 32-18 third quarter before wrapping up a 110-97 victory and their third straight title.
The Bears' scoring was shared around with Hayley Munro (22), Kisha Lee (19), Yvonne Turner (18), Stacey Howard (15) and Alice Honnery (14) the main contributors, while Turner and Munro also reeled in 12 and 10 rebounds respectively.
But Natalie Hurst shot the lights out for the Power with 35 points while its Australian representative, Jessica Bibby, chipped in with 27 in a signature superb all-round performance.
Bears coach Dean Page was proud “but not satisfied”.
“At the end of the day, we were 13 points away from being champions and it is now about winning it – not many people get the opportunity to play in a grand final and it's now about planning for next year and making sure it's not a one-off,” Page said.
“We certainly matched their intensity without question and the adjustments we made to our defence, particularly from two weeks ago (when they were thrashed by them 108-75) was telling, and they had to work but their big players stepped up in the end.
“I can't say Friday night's semi-final took anything out of us because they played too, and to execute at such a high level showed we are right there and had the opportunity, but they had 16 more free throws than us and that was the difference in the game.
“Hayley Munro was magnificent, Stacey Howard was brilliant, Kisha Lee fought so hard, and Vonny Turner was world-class particularly on Friday and she was Gladstone's main focus defensively but, while they restricted her scoring, the other girls certainly stood up and shared the work-load.
“We have taken Bundaberg Basketball to a new level.”