STANDING TALL: Coffs Harbour Suns centre Rachael McGinniskin shoots while under extreme Shoalhaven pressure.
STANDING TALL: Coffs Harbour Suns centre Rachael McGinniskin shoots while under extreme Shoalhaven pressure. Chris Lane

Suns loss doesn't lessen coach's love for her girls

A STATE title was in the Coffs Harbour Suns' hands, only to have it snatched from them in the dying seconds.

The Suns were leading for the majority of the Division 1 Women's final in Maitland on Sunday and even led Bathurst by two points with less than 10 seconds remaining of regular time.

The thrilling contest was sent into overtime when Matilda Flood nailed a two pointer for the Goldminers.

Even in overtime the Suns again led by two points when Laura Bamford-Cleland shot successfully from the corner with only 38 seconds remaining.

Suns coach Connie Woods swears Bamford-Cleland's clutch basket was a three pointer.

It was this and a couple of other 50/50 calls that went Bathurst's way in the dying stages that have left the Suns ruing their heartbreaking 69-67 loss in the final.

Surely Felicity Cook should've drawn a blocking foul as she attacked the basket. Surely Bathurst's Sophie Kelleman should've been tech fouled by the refs when she threw the ball away in disgust.

And surely the blocking foul called on Rachael McGinniskin inside the last minute was a charge by MVP Hayley Lepaio.

That four calls that if only two of them went Coffs Harbour's way could've created a completely different result.

According to Woods the Suns may not have got the championship banner but the girls are winners in her eyes.

"They're proud of each other and I'm proud of them," Woods said.

"To me they're all champions."

To reach the final, the Suns overcame Shoalhaven in Saturday's knockout semi-final.

Coffs Harbour was off to a strong start in the semi and fully deserved the 42-28 lead it enjoyed at half-time.

While Shoalhaven didn't have much space or time to execute in the first half, the Tigers found their mojo to bring the margin back to just six at the final break.

The Suns settled early in the last quarter to go on a 10 point run that sealed the result.

Jessi Reeves and McGinniskin were outstanding in this match.

Woods has watched the final again and is still left dumbfounded by some of the calls.

While disappointed with the final result, her overarching emotion when she thinks of the 2017 Suns team is pride.

"It would've been nice to win," she said.

"They deserved it, worked hard for it and wanted it but a few things just didn't go our way unfortunately."


WARATAH LEAGUE
Final
BATHURST GOLDMINERS 69 (H. Lepaio 20, S. Kleeman15) d COFFS HARBOUR SUNS 67 (J. Woods 19, E. Crampton 10).
Semi-Final
COFFS HARBOUR SUNS 73 (J. Reeves 17, R. McGinniskin 10) d SHOALHAVEN TIGERS 65 (K. Denyer 27, K. Bellamy 16).



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