Geraldton Buccaneers fall agonisingly short against Senators in another split away weekend
A storming final quarter by the Warwick Senators has seen them take down the Buccs by just a single point and put a halt to their six-game winning streak.
The Senators trailed by 10 points heading into the final quarter but produced a huge 30 points to take the lead with six seconds left and record a 95-94 victory.
The Buccs came into the weekend with a chance of claiming top spot if the Rockingham Flames faltered in their two games.
They got the job done on Saturday when they accounted for the Eastern Suns 98-91 after weathering a final-quarter assault but they couldn’t back it up on Sunday.
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It had been a see-sawing game with teams trading blows across the first half with the Senators jumping out to an early lead as Connor Mincherton and Ethan Elliott made their presence felt from beyond the arc.
Malik Meunier and Shaun Stewart responded to get the Buccs back on an even keel before back-to-back three from Aaron Ralph put the Buccs in front by four points at the quarter.
The teams went back and forth in the second, Zac Gattorna got himself going while Fletcher Klasztorny found the rim but fouls put the Senators in front, grabbing 15 points from the line to lead by four.
After what had been an arm wrestle it looked like the Buccs made a decisive move in the third hitting seven threes in the quarter intermixing with Meunier and Gattorna runs into the paint to take a 10-point lead, the largest all night, into the final quarter.
They maintained this buffer until four minutes left when a free throws put them within a basket.
Ryan Blanchett responded with four straight shots from the line but with 48 seconds on the clock a Caleb Davis three drew the hosts level.
A foul to Blanchett sent Mincherton to the line with six seconds where he made one from two giving the Buccs six seconds with Johny Narkle grabbing the defensive rebound and found Stewart who had to pull up a good foot from the three-point line to send out a Hail Mary, only to watch it bounce off the backboard.
Meunier and Gattorna finished with 22 and 21 points respectively with Blanchett dropping a solid 17 points but the difference all came from the line.
The Senators were sent to the line 35 times making 31 attempts with Caleb Davis scoring a perfect 12 from 12, while the Buccs were sent to the line 27 times but made just 18 which proved crucial at the buzzer.
The loss means the Buccs drop to third on the ladder as they maintain their up-and-down road form with a 4-3 record.
On Saturday the Buccs saw an even bigger lead evaporate as they were up by 23 points before the Suns closed to within three points.
However, Gattorna stood tall with some big late dunks along with Meunier to secure a seven-point win as Meunier recorded a double-double with 20 points and 10 assists while Gattorna had 23 points with captain Ralph chipping in with 18 points and seven rebounds.
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