The Spalding Waratah League and GTK Waratah Wheelchair League Senior Finals Weekend was an incredible success for the Hills Hornets. We had a total of 4 teams in the finals, the most of any other association in NSW. We then successfully pushed 2 teams through to the Grand Finals. The teams all gave their all and are a testament to the amazing season we’ve had. The Waratah Men have managed to become back-to-back champions. This is the first time in our club history any team has been able to do this. The successes of our teams have only spurred us on to be bigger and better for next year and we’re ready to bring on 2024! Thank you to all members of our community for your support and contributions, this weekend was made by the dedication and passion of our supporters.
Our Waratah Men have gone BACK TO BACK as Spalding Waratah League Champions in 2022 and 2023, despite being underdogs going into the finals. Up against rival team Hornsby Spiders in the Semi Finals, the team showed they belong in the final. We had control of the game from the beginning, with Robert Meyrick (19pts) on fire from mid-range and vintage Hills Hornets royalty Jason Strong pulling out 13 points to give us a win of 80 – 58.
This put us through to the Grand Final against the Canberra Gunners. The first quarter of the game was a grind, however we brought it back to a 1 point difference at half time. Ben Graham top scored the game (20pts) with the iconic Ben Graham shot fake that works every time. All of our boys pushed hard and gave all their effort, to ultimately leave the score equal at the end of the game to send us to overtime. To quote the Canberra Gunners captain, this is when ‘the older heads in the Hills Hornets team came out and earned the win’. Our boys hustled to the finish, with the crowd providing an electric atmosphere, finishing the game off 72 – 62.
Special mentions to our Hills Hornets community. The crowd this weekend at our Hornets games was unmatched and overwhelmingly supportive. The players appreciate the support, but as an association we are so proud to have such a passionate and invested community.
Robert Meyrick was named as the MVP of the Grand Final, finishing the game with 16 points and ultimately being an incredible leader. Despite being on 4 fouls from the 3rd quarter, he shifted the momentum and his experience in the game shone through. This is an incredibly deserved award, especially as Rob finished as the 3rd top total point scorer in the league, despite being away for several games to coach our NBL1 Women.
Every single team member gave an impressive performance and left it all out on the court. The coaching staff are incredible, guiding the team to both of their championships. Our community is so proud and we can’t wait to do it all again next year. #3peat
Our Youth League Men 1 had an incredible weekend at the Spalding Waratah League Finals Weekend. Despite a disheartening loss, they showed their strength and determination for next season. Taking on Central Coast Crusaders in the Semi Finals, the first half of the game was looking grim for our Hills Hornets. However, the team got the momentum shift they needed in the second half with Jamie Munro (18pts) and Mitchell Smith (16pts) top scoring the game and leading us to a 77-61 win.
This put us through to the Grand Final against the favourited-to-win and incredibly skilled Maitland Mustangs team. The first quarter was a shake out of nerves, but the rocky start unfortunately saw us down 50 – 34 at half time. Despite that, our boys fought tooth and nail to bring it back within 3 points in the third quarter. Wani Gwada (15pts) gave a consistent performance throughout the entire game, doing a lot of hard work to keep us in it. Mitch Smith (17pts) top scored, showing his experience and leadership in high stakes games. Special mentions to Saxon Orsini (16pts) who hit 4 3-pointers in the final and was an absolute hustler on defence, and to Josh Morgan, the 18 year old originally from Central Coast Rebels who showed his Hornets pride and incredible athletic ability.
The entire team did an incredible job all weekend and should hold their heads high for what was an amazing effort. Our Hills Hornets community is very proud. We have something to prove next year. #bannerin2024
Over the weekend, our Youth Men 2 fought to be in the Grand Final but unfortunately couldn’t quite get across the line. The boys were up against Newcastle, an undefeated team in the regular season and ultimately the Championship team, which set them up for a challenge. The boys had a slow start in the first quarter, and despite an incredible effort, they unfortunately couldn’t make up the difference. Koby Prakash proved his All-Star 5 ability with 14 points and some incredible displays of athleticism. Ultimately, everyone gave it their all and made us proud.
Our Waratah Wheelchair team also had a tough competition in the Semi Finals against Manly Sea Eagles. In the regular season, we had a loss and a win to the team and we knew we were facing a challenge to push through to the Grand Final stage. Due to prior commitments we were missing key players, and despite our best efforts and a tied score at half time, we unfortunately did not come away with the win. Player and Coach Annabelle Lindsay showed her experience and talent, with 19 points, 2 of which were incredible 3-pointers. This is an incredible achievement considering this is just the beginning of our Hills Hornets journey with Waratah Wheelchair basketball and we can’t wait to see how the league grows and evolves.
Additionally, we had huge success in our Officials Department over the weekend, with 10 referees nominated for the entire weekend. Of the 10, 5 were given Grand Final games, which are selections based on performance and skill. Congratulations to all officials, but in particular:
Jayna Bonney | Crew Chief | Waratah Women
Rachel Hogan | Waratah Women
Jacob Brennan | Crew Chief | YLM2
Stuart Smith | YLM2
Alexander Palmer | Wheelchair D2