The Steggles Sydney Uni Sparks 2017 SEABL campaign has come to an end, after a valiant effort against the Geelong Supercats, in the Eastern Conference Preliminary Final.
The experienced Supercats made the most of their home court advantage and took a 65-57 victory to advance to the Eastern Conference final and knock out the Sparks. With a 12-10 win/loss record, the Sparks exceeded expectations in their inaugural SEABL season.
The Sparks got out to a great start forcing Geelong into uncharacteristic turnovers and executed well on offence. Sarah Graham and Maddie O’Hehir each knocked down shots from beyond the arc to get the ball rolling and after four minutes in, the Sparks led 13-3. Geelong remained composed and went on a scoring run to tie the scores at 21-21 going into quarter time.
In the second quarter, the teams traded baskets up until the midway point. The Supercats then upped the pressure and the Sparks found it difficult to get points on the board. The Sparks went into halftime trailing by eight, their largest deficit up to that point.
Sydney Uni came out after halftime with the energy and intensity that they started the game with and scored the first three baskets of the third quarter. Sarah Graham scored nine points in a row, off the same play and the Sparks were back in business. Although the Sparks trailed by one point at this stage, Geelong finished the quarter well and took a 50-45 lead into the final quarter.
The beginning of the last quarter was tightly contested, with both teams giving everything they had to try and advance to the Eastern Conference Final. The Supercats were able to break away, hitting a couple of shots in succession to take the lead out to eleven. Despite their best efforts, the Sparks were unable to close the gap and the Supercats went on to win by seven.
Maddie O’Hehir and Sarah Graham kept the Sparks in the game for most of the night. O’Hehir finished with 17 points off 63% shooting and had five assists. Graham also had 17 points adding five rebounds and four assists. Charlie Evans came off the bench and knocked down a couple of really important three’s to finish with 9 points.
Sparks Captain, Shanae Greaves, was disappointed with the loss but extremely proud of her team’s performance throughout the season.
“Even though we were so proud to make finals, we didn’t want to settle because we knew that we were more than capable to match it with Geelong. So the loss on Saturday night definitely hurt. Despite our high energy and contributions across the board, we were outplayed by a high quality and experienced team.”
The Sparks have improved out of sight in their inaugural SEABL season. The last two times they had met the Supercats they lost by 23 points and 33 points. To come out in the preliminary final and only lose by seven, shows a huge amount of growth from the young group.
“I am so proud of the girls and our killer first season in the league. The talent coming through is exciting for seasons to come and also for the future of the Flames. I’m honoured to have been a part of the inaugural team,” Greaves added.