After nineteen straight victories in the Waratah League, the Newcastle Hunters have finally tasted defeat after going down 80-63 at the hands of top-table contenders the Hornsby Spiders at the Brickpit on Saturday evening.
The loss, the first Shannon Seebohm’s outfit has been whacked with since the tail-end of 2018, may have stopped the Hunters from chalking up a “perfect” season in regards to record. It hasn’t stopped anything about their ever-building title tilt.
In fact, copping a loss ahead of the elimination finals that loom in the state championship could even be a positive for the Newcastle squad as they look to iron out any hidden kinks the roster may have.
“Our focus has just been on improving every week, and the results don’t matter as much as long as we’re in the right position possible to potentially win a title. That’s what everyone wants, and that’s what we’re gunning for,” Seebohm told the Chronicle.
“This isn’t the worst thing in the world for us, if we keep improving and get a few wins or not in the last few then there’s positives. We just want to make sure we’re playing our best basketball at the right time of the year.”
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The Spiders claimed advantage at the Brickpit off the back of a rapid-fire first quarter. Hornsby climbed to a 26-14 lead, before maintaining that in the following two quarters. A late surge from the home side clinched their victory.
In the end, the Spiders had run the court through shooting percentages. Newcastle struggled to find points with a 37 percent success rate from the floor, and just six goals from 17 attempts outside the circle. In comparison, Hornsby slotted 31 from 56 field goals, and converted half of their 16 three-point chances.
Jaimee Seebohm and Lara McSpadden were still able to provide impact with 13 points apiece, with Alison Ebzery also hitting double digits with 10. Jasmin Howe particularly was silenced by the spiders, however, scoring just seven points.
The 17-point loss may have dropped the Hunters into the loser’s bracket for the first time in 2019, but their indomitable charge in the first five months of the competition have put the squad in good stead to finish on top.
“The girls know what we had planned from the start of the season and that hasn’t changed and won’t change until to the end of the season,” Seebohm said.
“We have those goals and the plan, and we just want to be positive heading into the finals, and we just have to make sure the squad is in the right place to compete for that championship.”