Coffs Harbour’s State League men’s team had mixed results on the first weekend of the season.
Coffs Harbour’s State League men’s team had mixed results on the first weekend of the season. TARUM IMAGES

Strong start to the season

THE Coffs Harbour Suns junior and senior representative teams headed west to Tamworth last weekend for their first round of the NSW State Championships and came home with a very impressive win-loss record.

Up against teams from Tamworth, Lismore, Port Macquarie, Bellingen and Grafton in the junior league competition, the Suns division 1 teams won every game, while the second Suns teams in the first division had wins over most opponents as coaches were pleased to get the first round of games under their belt.

Coaching director Matt Shanahan was on-hand to assess the performance of the teams and the coaching staff.

“It is great to finally have the teams put under the pressure of competition,” Shanahan said.

“We have had a number of pre-season events but point-score games in State Championships produce a different kind of reaction for the coaches and players.

“From the coaches’ standpoint, they’re now able to assess what deficiencies they see in their line-ups and respond accordingly by modifying their training regimes.

“We will be conducting a coaches meeting next week to discuss the weekend’s games and to plan our strategies leading into the next round of State in May.”

The Hoey Moey Suns senior teams came home with two wins and a loss after their first away games for the 2011 season.

The men went down to Tamworth by only seven points on Saturday night but regrouped to claim an emphatic win over the Armidale Lions on Sunday.

The women had a decisive 18-point win over the Tamworth Thunderbolts.

“I was very proud of the team, they were pumped and committed before the game, and their win really exceeded our expectations for the opening round of the season,” new women’s coach Connie Woods said.

“With one retirement, one pregnancy and one player unable to play because of US college regulations, and such strong opposition, we were not confident going into the game.

“However, the leadership of captain Bonnie Kuchel soon had the girls leading the game, and everything simply flowed from there.”

With an exciting blend of experience and youth the girls didn’t take long to settle into the game with captain Kuchel leading the way from the start .

Nicki Baade and Kate Harland played tough physical defence, while Sammy Cooper maintained full-court ball pressure to see the Suns lead at half-time 37-20.

Kuchel was unstoppable in the second half, and was exceptional under the basket. Siarn Woods and Tiarne Saunders supported their captain with their own contributions while Sammy Bastick and Rochelle Goodhand combined well in defence to help Coffs run out convincing winners, 61-43.

The Hoey Moey League Men bounced into their season in Tamworth against a new and much-improved Tamworth team.

Tamworth’s off-season recruiting has seen four experienced additions to the their 2011 roster and, playing on their new home show court, wanted the fans to see what they could do.

An under-manned Suns side put up a good fight but didn’t have enough to get over the line going down by five points.

The Suns had trouble settling into its game routine while the Tamworth boys seemed to get better as the game went on.

The Suns trailed most of the game but by never more than just a couple of baskets.

With one minute to go the Suns were down by just one point but a massive three-pointer by Tamworth followed by a couple of free shots allowed the Thunderbolts to take the game 77-70.

Leading scorers where Matt Shanahan with 42 points and Mitch Cole with 14.

The Suns men travel to Port Macquarie this Saturday night while the Youth League team has its first game at home on Sunday at midday against the Central Coast Power.

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