Dogged Vikings shock the storm to clinch grand final berth
BASKETBALL: Grafton Vikings showed their fighting spirit in the final quarter against Lismore Storm to claw their way into the Frigid Air Sunshine Conference grand final this coming weekend.
The Vikings put up a 25-point final quarter against Lismore Storm on Saturday night to narrowly clinch the semi-final 72-71 in nailbiting fashion at Grafton Indoor Sports Centre.
Grafton secured hosting rights for the grand final after Ballina Breakers pulled off the upset of the season to down Byron Bay in the other semi at Cavanbah Centre.
It was a dogged fightback by the Grafton side which found itself on the wrong end of the scoreboard at the end of the first quarter despite being quick out of the blocks.
Lismore maintained its lead throughout the contest before a spirited Vikings blocked it out of the contest in the last stanza.
While victorious coach Rob Blinman said the one-point win was not the ideal finish Grafton was looking for, he was happy to take it.
"It was a little bit closer than what we wanted it to be, but at the end of the day you only need to be up by one point at the final siren," he said.
"I knew it was going to be close, at half-time it was only six points and I was happy with where we were at because we were getting into our structures in our offence. We just needed to pick up the intensity."
While Vikings captain Sam Wicks had a relatively quiet first half, he landed two three-point blows early in the second half to set the tone for the home side.
Wicks' brother, Mitch, led the home side to victory with 19 points while tall centre Hamish Denshire kept the scoreboard ticking over with 13 of his own.
"The boys showed a lot of spirit, everytime we really stepped up in defence in that final quarter," Blinman said.
"We gave them no room, we shut them down and you could see it in Lismore's frustration."
It almost was not to be for the Vikings with Storm guard Nathan Darby putting up what appeared to be a three-pointer on the final siren but the number seven had put a foot just inside the circle.