Bunbury loss ends men’s title hopes

Cameron Newbold and Tayler NealeAlbany Advertiser

Albany Basketball Association senior men’s team’s string of grand final appearances at the Basketball WA Country Championships has ended after a loss to Bunbury in their final round robin match of the tournament in Perth yesterday morning.

The Raiders had played in the past six championship division grand finals; however, a six-point defeat at the hands of Bunbury ruled them out of contention for another title tilt.

After jumping out of the blocks, the Raiders led 20-5 in the early stages but Bunbury’s 18-0 run saw them surge back into the game.

In a see-sawing affair, Raiders held a four-point advantage in the closing minutes; however, a Wade Hitchcock-inspired Bunbury hit back and eventually prevailed 60-54 to end Albany’s hopes of reaching the final.

Hitchcock finished with a staggering eight three pointers on his way to 30 points while for the Raiders, skipper Justin Benson added 16 points and John Murray hit 14 points.

The men’s side put themselves in title contention with three consecutive wins after losing their opener to Mandurah, 34-56.

They beat Kalgoorlie 35-25 after 14 points from Murray before wins on Sunday over Geraldton (56-32), led by Tom Powell (12 points) and Benson (11), and a tight 39-36 result against Esperance, with Benson contributing 19 points.

Meanwhile, Albany’s senior women’s side have performed admirably given they sent such a young team to compete in the women’s championship division.

Albany finished fifth on the standings with one win and four losses to their name.

The Raiders started brilliantly, winning their opening game on Saturday by 11 points over Waroona but failed to taste success after that.

Zandalee Arthur hit nine points and Aleesha Narkle dropped three long-range baskets to help guide Albany to a 30-19 win.

The Raiders lost their second game on Saturday to Pinjarra, 23-35, despite another eight points from guard Zandalee Arthur.

Anita Onions and Zandalee Arthur combined for 16 points in Sunday’s loss to Kalgoorlie (27-38) before the youngsters were outplayed by Harvey later that day, losing 20-34, with Alyssa Ward top scoring with six points.

In their final match against Bunbury yesterday, Albany led early but were overrun to lose 31-39 despite a heroic 25-point haul from Zandalee Arthur, which included three from outside the arc.

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