Suns to face Bathurst in state final
THE Coffs Harbour Suns women are one step away from winning another state championship.
The Suns overcame Shoalhaven in today's semi final at Maitland to set up a meeting in the Waratah League's Division 1 Women's big dance against Bathurst tomorrow.
The Suns won 73-65 but endured some nervous moments before the final buzzer.
Coffs Harbour was off to a strong start and fully deserved the 42-28 lead it enjoyed at half time.
While Shoalhaven didn't have much space or time to execute in the first half, the Tigers found their mojo to bring the margin back to just six at the final break.
Olivia Patterson shot a three pointer for the Tigers to open the scoring in the final quarter.
It was a moment that would bring undone a team with a brittle underbelly but it sparked a determination within the girls to dig in, up the intensity and bring the game home.
The next four minutes saw Emily Crampton, Jessi Reeves, Laura Bamford-Cleland, Ashleigh Fasala and felicity Cook all score two points to give the Suns a 10-0 run to settle the nerves.
With five minutes remaining, the Suns had restored the 14 point lead from half time but the Tigers weren't going down without a fight.
Shoalhaven went on a 12-2 run to get back within four points with just under two minutes left to play.
Bamford-Cleland nailed a couple of two pointers in the dying stages to ice the game and send the Suns through to tomorrow's final.
Coach Connie Woods was thrilled with the win but would've preferred the margin to have been bigger.
"We got the win. That was all we were trying for today, just to get that 'W'," Woods said.
"But we certainly made it hard for ourselves."
It was a performance that lacked an out and out star with Suns taking it in turns almost to have their moment in the spotlight.
Rachael McGinniskin proved a handful scoring 10 points, Jordon Woods nailed a trio of three-pointers while Jessi Reeves caused the Shoalhaven defence all manner of problems, scoring 11 of her 17 points from the free throw line.
All up there 10 Suns who added their name to the scorers list in an all-round effort.
Looking ahead to the contest against Bathurst, Woods said there's room for improvement and it will be needed if the Suns are going to bring home a fourth championship banner in seven years.
"Our timing needs to be a bit better and we didn't finish off our defence," the coach said.
"We didn't have that intensity that we're meant to have. Whether that can be put down to nerves today or wanting it too much and it just not working for them, we certainly need to be on our game tomorrow."