Bellinger Valley basketballers take victory
IN A moment the players will remember all their lives, Bellinger Valley men's basketballers have taken a massive stride forward in the NSW Waratah State League.
With a huge band of vocal supporters cheering from the gallery, the Braves broke through for that elusive maiden victory against one of the biggest guns in the game.
The 83-77 win over Newcastle Hunters was stunning.
Led in fine style by point guard Sam Wicks and with USA import James Royal sending shockwaves through Novocastrian ranks, the team played precision attacking basketball and remained rock solid in defence whenever the visitors hit back.
Only when the final siren blasted through Sportz Central did coach Denise Challinor allow the tension to dissolve as her face burst into a smile of relief.
"Newcastle is the top team in our Northern NSW pool and they arrived here after rolling Port Macquarie, Lismore and Tamworth," she said. "So this overdue victory will certainly give our Braves the confidence and boost they needed."
Bellinger Valley rolled out new recruit James Beaton and his physical presence inside the key at both ends of the court was a telling factor.
It was a double-header weekend but the story in the second meeting wasn't as joy-filled.
Stung by the upset, Newcastle were vastly improved for the return meeting and while the lead see-sawed, experience counted in the end and the Hunters were eight points in front when the buzzer sounded.