Spirits soared among Wagga Heat players and supporters as they staged their first win of the season at home on Saturday night.
Wagga defeated Springwood Scorchers 95-71 in round three of the Waratah League at Bolton Park.
“We have a foundation now,” Heat coach Colin Reed said.
“We’ve got the monkey off our back, it should give the guys confidence to do what they need to do to keep winning.
“They’d come off the back of two wins, but we hadn’t played them in two years, so we didn’t know what to expect.
“They played a good offense, but they weren’t lasting any longer than 10 seconds in defence.”
The strategy was simple; tire them out, and then shoot. It worked.
Wagga had a stunning second quarter, scoring 31 points, gaining the mental edge over Springwood.
“That’s really where we sealed the game,” Reed said.
“It’s surprising this year, our third quarters have been good too.”
It’s a pleasing change – Reed was assistant coach in 2015-16, and while the side rivalled the best in the competition, their third-quarter performances were flat more often than not.
Wagga big Scott Hare made a “miraculous" recovery from an injury sustained in Lithgow last week to play his 100th game.
Hare rested through the week, attending training to contribute verbally, and was fit enough to rotate off the bench with fellow big Vasanth Seker, who was unavailable in the round two loss.
“He’s important in our rotations,” Reed said.
Reed believes two extra men made all the difference this week, and has
Heat captain Zac Maloney top scored with 20 points in his 100th game, Seker scored 19 points and import Matt Pebole featured with 14 points.
Teen players Fletcher Peterson and Bailey Lloyd also had a run.
“We have a great team leader in Zac, he’s quite vocal and positive with everything that’s going on,” Reed said.
“And Matt doesn’t score a lot of baskets, but his team contribution is what we need.
“We’re now getting the ball through lots of sets of hands, we don’t need someone there to score 40 points each game.”
At least nine Wagga Heat players will travel to play Shoalhaven next Saturday.
“Shoalhaven at home is a tough ask, but after that we’ll go there with confidence,” Reed said.
“The boys should be walking tall.
“They listened, they take on board the constructive criticism, they understand where they need to be.”