This game went to the wire as both teams battled hard – but ultimately Brewers Lite suffered a slender defeat on the road at Wyddgrug Magic.
That was despite an incredible 31-point haul by MVP guard John Opiala in only his second game for the Lite.
It was always going to be an interesting encounter. Brewers Lite have been a bit of a surprise package this season but Head Coach Ben Scott’s goal was always to strive to match up to teams like Wyddgrug in this first campaign.
The game started pretty evenly as the sides traded scores, Jan Santos opening Lite’s account with a triple while Opiala got started finding gaps to exploit.
After 10 minutes it was 14-14 and set to be a thrilling game. Both sides continued to trade shots into the second, but they also began to rack up foul trouble, Santos and Alec Doyle for the Lite and Williams and Tattum for Wyddgrug going deep into their foul count.
The basketball remained tough and competiive however and be half time the Brewers trailed by a single point 31-30.
Coming out for the third the Lite took the game to their hosts, Debutants Hayden Kavanagh and Theo Harrison and fellow young recruit Andrew De Guzman made an immediate impact and look like promising additions to the side. Led by captain Adam Lloyd and guided by the more senior Lite players they helped their team race to a 21-8 third quarter win to lead 39-51 going into the final period.
In the fourth however the Lite’s lack of experience in managing a lead told as they allowed Wyddgrug back into the game.
They continued to play hard, but fatigue and the fact this was only their fifth game together – less for some of the squad – combined to allow the home side to close the gap right up.
In the dying minutes both teams saw their foul trouble come home to roost as both lost players to five personal fouls amid a flurry of intentional fouls and trips to the line.
It was Wyddgrug who held their nerve at the charity stripe to keep their noses in front and secure the win.
Jan Santos finished the game with 11 points for the Brewers but it was Opiala who stood out, his dynamism on offence allowing him to dance through time and again on his way to a huge 31 points.
Lite Head Coach Ben Scott afterwards said: “We’ve consistently said we were ahead of schedule with this Lite team after our earlier wins.
“In truth, this keeps us ahead of schedule. The goal was always to be competitive against Wyddgrug and the other teams around them and we have been. The third quarter saw a fantastic effort from everyone and was exactly what we were looking for.
“Unfortunately the final quarter was the opposite. But we will be much better for the experience and we have learned a lot about each other and how we need to adjust to manage those late-game lead situations so that hopefully next time we can close it out.
“It was great to see our younger players Andrew, Theo and Hayden out there too. We’re thrilled to be attracting young talented players to the club now. By giving them opportunities to develop in senior men’s basketball they will be able to make a valuable contribution to our future.
“They are brilliant young men and have really fit in well since they arrived. We have an awesome group of guys right now and the atmosphere at training and games is fantastic. This result was disappointing but everyone can hold their heads up high for their effort and contribution. This is still the start of our process and when we get where we’re going, it’s going to be epic.”