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The Roller Hawks have finished the NWBL season in third place after a 66-55 win over the Red Dust Heelers in the Bronze Medal match while Kilsyth were too strong for Perth in the Gold Medal match winning 80-54.



Wollongong were left to rue what might have been after a hot night from downtown by Shaun Norris was too much for the Roller Hawks to overcome in the Preliminary Final.




Wollongong had earned the chance to play for a spot in the Grand Final after beating Red Dust convincingly on Friday night 89-68, while Perth fell to Kilsyth by a point in their Friday match forcing them into a sudden death game against the Roller Hawks.


The Wheelcats’ captain sunk 5 from 10 from three point range including three in the opening quarter putting Wollongong, who were already dealing with the absence of injured high pointer Michael Auprince, on the back foot.


The Roller Hawks fought back in the third quarter to trail 56-55 at three quarter time but failed to take their opportunities in the final period.


The Wheelcats’ Amber Merritt was crucial down the stretch scoring 9 of her 13 points in the final quarter. Two big plays included stealing the ball and going onto make a three point play with 3:35 on the clock before later sinking a basket that stretched her side’s lead to 4 with 0:48 left in the game.


But the night belonged to Norris who finished the game with a triple double with 40 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists whilst Kim Robins chimed in with 21 points and 6 rebounds.


“We played our best game and still fell short of the mark purely because of the great percentage of three point shooting from Norris,” said Roller Hawks coach Jim Williams.


“We won every other stat but just didn’t get that, missed a few free throws and a couple of turnovers which cost us.”


“I think we were very close to the mark. I think if we’d have got through that game we would have had a very good chance of beating Kilsyth because I think we match up better against them.”


“I must commend Luke (Pople) and Stick (Brett Stibners) on being the leaders out there, pulling everyone together and getting everyone else in the game. Great, great effort from both of them.”


Roller Hawks captain Brett Stibners was left to wonder ‘what if?’


“We let Shawn Norris get too many open shots in the first half. He shot 5 of 7 three pointers and some of the guys looked at the stats at the end of the game and we won the percentage. Both teams shot the same amount of shots and we won the percentage, we won every other area and we lost by three. Very disappointing,” said Stibners.


“Even though ‘Aupie’ was injured I still thought we could win the whole thing. I really would’ve loved to have had a crack at Victoria but not to be I guess.”


“You can’t replicate Aupie’s height, he’s got really good chair skills but Tarrant is a really good player as well. We missed Aupie, but Tarrant played really, really well. He was brilliant on Friday night.”


“The emphasis this weekend was move the ball, don’t get stuck with the ball, short passes and when we did that, we looked really good. We got open shots and lay ups.”


“(Against Perth) it was a little bit different because they pressed us all game and it’s hard not to get caught up in going fast up and down all the time. We play a slow offence, move the ball around and get open shots,”


The Roller Hawks had four players in double figures including Luke Pople (24 points, 7 rebounds) Brett Stibners (19 points, 13 assists), Nick Taylor (19 points, 10 assists) and Andrew Tarrant (11 points, 12 rebounds).


The previous night the Roller Hawks proved too strong for the Red Dust Heelers getting out to a 7 point lead at quarter time before storming home with a 26-11 final quarter.


Stibners was everywhere scoring 42 points to go with 8 rebounds and 8 assists while Nick Taylor and Andrew Tarrant contributed with 18 and 16 points respectively.


When the two sides met again in the Bronze Medal game on Sunday, both teams were out to enjoy themselves but couldn’t help but be competitive. At three quarter time the scores were locked at 47-all but a 10-0 run midway through the final quarter by Wollongong ensured they would not walk away from the weekend empty handed.


In the Gold Medal game two hard fought matches took their toll on Perth who couldn’t match it with the well rested Kilsyth team who shot out to a 17-10 lead at quarter time and lead by 15 at halftime.


Tristan Knowles capped off an outstanding weekend finishing with his second triple double of the finals to go with being named the NWBL’s high point MVP. Knowles was well supported by Shaun Groenewegan (15 points), Joshua Allison (14 points on a perfect 7 from 7) and Shawn Russell who finished with 12 points and 10 rebounds.


Shaun Norris finished with 22 points but took 32 attempts and made just 1 from 10 from three point range while Amber Merritt had 14 points and 9 rebounds before going off with an elbow injury in the fourth quarter after taking a heavy fall.


The win sees Kilsyth win back to back championships after defeating Red Dust in last year’s Grand Final.


Friday June 24:




Saturday June 25:

GAME 3 (Preliminary Final): PERTH WHEELCATS 80 def ROLLER HAWKS 77


Sunday June 26:

GAME 4 (Bronze Medal): ROLLER HAWKS 66 def RED DUST HEELERS 55