By ROY WARD
SO often in season 2012 Dandenong Rangers men won close matches: their final-seconds shots fell in, opposition teams’ shots fell out and other times either luck or brilliance sat on the Rangers’ shoulders when the game was on the line.
But that luck deserted the Rangers at the worst possible time during the South East Australian Basketball League men’s championship game against Albury-Wodonga Bandits at the State Basketball Centre, Wantirna South on Saturday.
After trailing at each change, the Bandits took the lead early into the last term, then both sides traded baskets.
Rangers import forward Daequon Montreal (14 points, eight rebounds) drove to the basket making a contested lay-up over Bandits import Mohamed Ntumba (16 points, 13 rebounds) with 47 seconds remaining to tie the scores at 63-63. Montreal landed heavily on his shoulder, with Rangers coach Darren Perry later saying the forward had heard a pop and would undergo X-rays at hospital.
Then the Bandits ran the clock down as low as they could with Nick Payne finding Ntumba free on the baseline for a dunk to give the visitors a 65-63 lead with 14 seconds to go.
The Rangers had one last chance to win or tie the game with import Tony Lewis (21 points) taking a contested three-pointer with just two seconds left which missed, handing the Bandits the title as their players and supporters flocked onto the court for a jubilant celebration.
Perry said he felt the game was always going to have a close finish even when the Rangers took promising leads in the second and third quarters. “This game just see-sawed and if Tony’s shot goes in at the buzzer then you are saying fantastic season.”
For pictures from Saturday’s grand final see Multimedia tab at bottom of this site’s front page.
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