Even as a last minute addition to the schedule, the Hills Hornets were honoured to host storied NCAA Div 1 college, St. Mary’s, for game 1 of their 2022 Down Under tour. Despite the short notice and the clash with NSW State Championships, the Hive was buzzing at near capacity as the anthems were sung and the game was underway.

Up against a program which boasts Delly, Jock Londale and the great Patty Mills as past players, the Hornets were always going to be in for a tough afternoon. When veteran Paul Brotherson, who’d starred in a win against Central Coast the night before, was ruled out with a back injury on Sunday morning, the task became even more difficult.

Despite the adversity, the young Hornets were keen to test themselves against quality opposition however the first quarter was not pretty from a Hornets viewpoint. After taking a 3-2 lead, the Hornets found themselves on the wrong end of a 22-3 run as the size and athleticism of the Gaels proved difficult to match.

Coach Potter’s quarter time speech must have hit the mark as the Hornets steadied the ship and took it right to the West Coast Conference powerhouse, winning the quarter by 3 points and going into the halftime break down 29 – 44.

In front of a crowd including St Mary’s alumni Dan Kickert and Jordan Hunter of the Sydney Kings and the Mayor of the Hills Shire, Dr Peter Gangemi, the Hornets showed great spirit to hold their own in the second half, eventually going down 63 – 92.

Every Hornet contributed to a performance they can be proud of, with Joe Patmore and Jayden Prakash leading the way. For the Gaels, Aussie Alex Ducas, who just last month debuted for the Boomers at the Asian Cup, led the team with a game-high 23 points on 7-13 from the floor and 4-6 from 3 point territory.

The two teams enjoyed swapping stories at the post-game function and we wish the Gaels all the best as they continue on their Australian tour.