By Charlie Smart
WHILE only in their infant years within the WA Basketball League, Hills Raiders Basketball Association are already stamping their mark on the competition with strong campaigns from all their teams during what has been the most challenging year in sport.
Securing places in their respective grand finals, two Raiders teams travelled to Bendat Stadium on Sunday in the hope of bringing the first trophies into the WABL cabinet.
First on the court saw U14 Boys take on Cockburn Cougars in what became a tremendous battle of wills.
Raiders came out like a team possessed, clearly having shaken off the nerves from the semi final last week.
Taking an early lead from ball up, the pace seemed set for the game until an unrelenting Cockburn retaliated, slowly reducing the deficit and taking a lead at the end of the second quarter.
During half time the boys looked focused and engrossed in what the coaches were saying and walked out onto the court to begin their last half of the game oozing a sense of confidence.
The huge crowd of Raiders family cheered, spurring the boys on to dig deep.
Strategy changed and Raiders’ smothering defence and some phenomenally secured rebounds at the most crucial times saw Raiders gather momentum and they didn’t look back.
With the final buzzer sounding the crowd erupted at the tremendous achievement that saw Hills Raiders U14s Boys crowned WABL 2020 Champions, 44 to 35.
During presentations our own Sam Ryan was also awarded a very deserving Grand Final MVP.
In what was also a Raiders versus Cockburn Grand Final showdown the U14 Girls took to the court later than planned due to a last minute fixture change caused by a roof leak on court four.
With multiple injury setbacks Raiders knew they were in for an extremely tough game.
Nothing seemed to be able to separate the two teams, with only a couple of points in it on each side.
Gameplans changed on both sides with point for point being matched equally.
The girls gave their all in a Grand Final game worthy of absolute champions however Hills Raiders just missed out on title glory in the narrowest of margins, 37-40.