The Launceston Tornadoes suffered a heart-breaking four-point defeat to their SEABL southern conference nemesis Kilsyth in the grand final played in Melbourne on Saturday night.
The Torns trailed 20-14 after the first quarter and were outscored 14-12 in the second for a 34-26 scoreline at the main break.
The Lady Cobras narrowly won the third quarter 10-8 to extend their lead to 10 points at the end of the third quarter – 44-34.
Despite a Tornadoes late charge in the final quarter in which they outscored Kilsyth 19-13, they found the deficit too great to bridge going down 57-53 on the final buzzer.
Mikaela Ruef top scored with 22 points and had 16 rebounds to be the Tornadoes best player and Tayla Roberts shot 11 points and had 11 rebounds.
Kilsyth’s stars Steph Cumming and Jasmine Gill again hurt the Torns with Cumming scoring 21 points and having seven rebounds and Gill shooting 13 points with nine rebounds.
“We are absolutely gutted – but definitely proud of the group and the way they battled,” Tornadoes coach Reece Potter said.
“I am really proud of the season they have had but at the moment the group is really shattered and it is a bit surreal for us at the moment and unfortunately there is no next week for us.
“We could not buy a basket and it seemed every call would go against us but we stuck with it and only went down by four points in the end.”
Potter said the result was certainly not due to a lack of effort on the players behalf.
“The girls tried to do everything we spoke about but unfortunately it wasn’t our night. Defensively we executed our game plan and we really did a job on a couple of their players but we couldn’t score the ball and even some of the really good looks we had we couldn’t get them to drop.
“Even Ally Wilson who has been the best three-point shooter in the competition this year – I don’t think she hit one and she had some good looks especially in that first half.
“Some of it was execution and some of it was credit to them for their defensive game plan and some of it came down to us just not being able to buy a basket. If we could have it would have given us a lot more momentum and we honestly could have got them and I think we are a better team but unfortunately tonight we weren’t.”
Potter said the Torns can hold their heads up high for the season they have had and everyone should be proud of what the group has achieved. “The expectation for the Tornadoes is back to what it was in 1995-96 – we have still fallen short of that obviously and unfortunately we haven’t delivered Launceston its second SEABL final but that is still the aim.”
He praised Mikaela Ruef’s game saying she kept them in the contest with her effort level on the rebounds while being an offensive threat and showing why she is one of the best players in the SEABL.