By Roy Ward
DANDENONG Rangers showed plenty of fight but a horror patch in form cost them a win in their South East Australian Basketball League season opener against Knox Raiders at Knox Stadium on Saturday night.
Despite Raiders star CJ Massingale scoring 15 points in the first term, the scores were tied at quarter time.
But the home side took charge of the game late in the second term and led by as much as 25 points before Lucas Barker and debut import Tony Lewis (23 points and 10 rebounds) sparked a late Rangers run which took them within six points of the home side. Massingale (28 points) scored some late baskets to seal the 88-76 win.
Rangers coach Darren Perry said his side was a work in progress which would be better for facing a veteran team like the Raiders.
“When you are down like that some teams would just keep on the status quo and accept it while our guys kept on fighting,” he said.
The Rangers lost their second game of the round to Nunawading Spectres 88-86 at Dandenong Stadium yesterday.
The Rangers SEABL women lost their two season-opening games over the weekend. They lost to Knox Raiders 69-60 on Saturday night and then lost to Nunawading 64-60 at Dandenong Stadium yesterday.
With five Rangers playing in the WNBL grand final last Sunday, the Rangers side only had one training together before facing the Raiders.
Rangers coach Larissa Anderson was making no excuses. “We have got pretty much the same side as the past few seasons so we should have played better than that,” she said.
The Raiders held their advantage deep into the final quarter but two three-pointers from Rangers guard Tenaya Phillips sparked a run which took the visitors to within five points of the lead. The Raiders hung tough and made sure they claimed the win.
■ Dandenong Rangers point guard Kath Macleod capped of her team’s WNBL championship-winning season by taking out the Rangers most valuable player award on Friday night.
In other team awards Jenna O’Hea was named player of the finals series, Alison Downie defensive player of the year and Steph Cumming and Krista Phillips shared the coaches award.
Tegan Cunningham won the Janine Fielder award while Aimie Clydesdale was named team rookie of the year.