Women struggling but Thunderbolt men on fire

THERE were ups and downs for the Tamworth Thunderbolts at the Sports Dome on Saturday night with results that reflected the fortunes of the two local teams.
Nanjing Night Net

The women are out of contention and suffered a heavy defeat at the hands of a strong Coffs Harbour side, while the Bolts men are flying high and enjoyed a great victory.

The women tipped off first but were never a chance.

Coffs took advantage of an underdone Tamworth side and won it 100-41.

“They’re the defending champions and they’ve given us a touch-up every time we’ve played them this year,” Bolts women’s coach Greg Irwin said.

“We’ve hardly trained lately because of junior league and with the stadium being closed for nationals and that sort of thing.

“We’ve hardly played together and this would be the first time some of them have touched a basketball in a few weeks.”

That lack of preparation and recent game time was evident from the start.

Coffs were hitting almost every shot and there was no way back for Tamworth once the visitors built a big lead.

“We got off to a bad start,” Irwin said.

“They came out firing.

“Their shooting percentage was high and I think it was 31-6 at quarter time.

“The defensive intensity was pretty poor and after that bad start we were on the back foot.”

The second and third quarters were better but Coffs still scored freely.

Emily Staunton was Tamworth’s top scorer with 11 while Sarah Westman, Ally Kay and Kelsey Strasek-Barker added six each.

The girls just want to finish the season well next week after falling out of finals contention, but may have to call on


“We’ve played 11 games and I haven’t had the same side in any of those 11 games,” Irwin.

“We play next week and I could have six who played tonight missing.

“In our last game we played Newcastle and lost by a point. They needed to win that to play for a finals spot.

“We’ll just try and get a win to finish next week.”

The men are in a completely different situation.

They are vying for top spot in the northern section of the state league and helped that cause with an impressive 87-68 win over Coffs following the women’s game on Saturday night.

“I’m over the moon, ecstatic,” men’s coach John Ireland said.

“We really showed up to play. But we had to get the job done.

“It was crucial for us down the stretch after a couple of close losses to Port.

“We needed to win our last three to secure first and get two bites of the cherry in the finals.”

Chris Skilton was the standout again for Tamworth with a 33-point haul.

Reece Craigie was also good with 22, Justin Leegy added 14 and Ireland said Ben Monckton was the other exceptional performer for his side.

The last two games for the men are in Tamworth next week and then it’s off to the finals.

Tamworth’s Ben Monckton keeps Coffs Harbour’s Jesse Browning away from the ball during Saturday night’s game at the Sports Dome. 040812GRB05

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