TAMWORTH Thunderbolts slipped to a devastating one point loss in their Waratah State League final playoff in Lithgow on Saturday night.
The John Ireland-coached Thunderbolts lost the finals match, which earned a berth in the final four, 84-83 to the Lithgow Lazers.
‘The boys are absolutely gutted,” Ireland told The Leader after the match.
“We led for pretty much the whole game, but just got headed in the final quarter. One of their players got hot, hit five three-pointers and that sparked them.
“We also missed four straight three throws that would have won us the game too.
“But those three-pointers were a nail in our coffin.”
Ireland thought his side was the better side .
“The boys played so well, defensively they were great against a bigger side and we did an excellent job off the glass considering their size.
“We shot well and shot free throws well until those final four.
“And Tevin (Hurd) was outstanding.
The first quarter he was unstoppable, made some big three-point plays but then he got into foul trouble, copped a terrible call on an offensive foul in the second quarter, his third, so I had to sit him down for a large portion.
“Luke Krug was also great. He probably had his best game as a Thunderbolt. Made some massive plays, shot some big threes.
“And Rhys Chillingworth, against a bigger side, was outstanding. They struggled to guard him. Justin Leehy was great, especially in the second half and Bourkie (skipper David Bourke) led well too. He did a good job on their bigs.
“But it was just a terrible feeling after the game.”
Ireland is hoping to maintain much of the squad for next season and continue to blood and bring through some outstanding talent.