BasketballNewcastle Hunters were mauled by Norths Bears in both men’s and women’s games on Saturday.


THE depleted Newcastle Hunters were left licking their wounds after being mauled by Norths Bears in the Waratah Basketball League men’s and women’s games at Broadmeadow on Saturday night.

Norths, the reigning men’s champions, won 86-58 to end Newcastle’s season-opening four-game winning streak. That came after the Bears won the women’s game 81-54, living up to their reputation as the team to beat for the 2018 title. Newcastle were without Waratah League leading scorer and rebounder Austin Thornton, who is battling foot and knee injuries, and big men Steve Davis and Ben Hawkesley, and never recovered after being held to just four second-quarter points to trail 40-23 at half-time.

Sharif Watson (16 points, eight rebounds, three assists) and Jacob Foy (11 points, seven rebounds, six assists) were the only Newcastle players to score in double figures.

ALL-ROUNDER: American import Sharif Watson scored 16 points and made eight rebounds for the Hunters against Norths Bears on Saturday. Picture: Marina Neil

The Hunters were out-rebounded 51-41 and shot 32 per centfrom the floor compared to the Bears’ 42 per cent.

Norths were also more efficient from three-point range, converting 11 from 21. In stark contrast, Newcastle connected on just five of 27 attempts from beyond the arc.

“We were outplayed by a far superior team, simple as that,” Hunters coach Darren Nichols said.

“It’s better to suffer a big loss like this early in the season because we can learn from it, but in saying that, the task doesn’t get any easier for us because we’ve got two away games next weekend against two of the toughest teams in the league in Sydney and Hills.”

The Hunters women’s team were also missing several key players, including veteran skipper Cheryl Wills and “bigs” Hannah Young and Charlotte Bull, in their 27-point loss to Norths.

The Bears hit the floor running to establish a 25-7 lead by quarter-time, allowing them to dictate terms for the rest of the game.

“We have some talented young players who are still developing their skills and learning to play together, so we just have to learn from this and work harder at getting better as a team,” Newcastle coach Shannon Seebohm said.

Kelsey Moss (12 points, eight rebounds), Alison Ebzery (12 points, four rebounds, three assists, two steals) and Cassidy McLean (11 points, four rebounds, four steals) were Newcastle’s most productive players.

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