THE Vikings men's basketball team have lost a hard-fought defensive battle against the Tamworth Thunderbolts.
In a game where both teams failed to score above 60 points the crowd would have left the Cage feeling satisfied at the spectacle that they had seen.
Before the game had even started the Vikings lost starter and highest point scorer Mitchell Cole, who had coaching commitments and could not make the game.
With the loss of Cole, young Anthony Kopsikas was elevated into the starting line up, which gave the Vikings a look into the future.
“Ant looked great out there. He's been lighting up Youth League and looked very comfortable out there when he got the ball. We lost nothing with Ant in the starting line up,” Coach Craig Howe said.
The Vikings came out of the change rooms ready for a physical game and were looking to get on top of the visitors early, but it was the Thunderbolts who came out of the blocks the more hungry.
The usual smooth shooting of the Vikings went missing in the first quarter but they still found themselves in a position to make a push for the game, being down by only a few points.
The second and third quarters saw much of the same with the Vikings making the occasional run at the Tamworth side.
“At times we looked the better side but we just weren't hitting our shots. Nothing wanted to go in,” Howe said.
Grafton at no stage were out of the game and it was their defensive pressure which kept the Vikings in the game.
“This was a very defensive game and it was typical of Viking matches. The boys worked hard and played physical which is exactly what I asked of them, everyone was boxing out and there was some great hustle defence,” Howe said.
In the fourth quarter the Vikings really stepped up the pressure and made some big shots and defensive stops.
Not only did the Vikings step up but the crowd also became a major factor riding all the highs and lows along with the team.
Despite the presence of the crowd it proved to be not enough with the Thunderbolts roaring to 10-point victory.
“It was a tough game for us to lose,” Howe said.
“But despite the loss I found it difficult to criticise any part of our game, we played very well, the ball just didn't roll our way.”