A 39-point eruption from captain Dan Jackson wasn’t enough to carry the Illawarra Hawks to victory in Saturday night’s elimination playoff against Sydney at the Snakepit.
Despite leading at every change, the Hawks came unstuck in crunch time, going down 87-84 and bowing out of the championship race.
Illawarra finished fourth during the regular season and were confident of defending their Waratah Basketball League crown.
They followed the script for three quarters but couldn’t find enough scorers down the stretch.
‘‘It’s disappointing. If you’ve got the title, you always want to defend it,’’ Jackson said.
‘‘We thought we could win it from fourth spot again, but it just wasn’t our year. Unfortunately we didn’t have enough guys play as well as we could …’’
The Hawks had beaten the Comets by 10 in the final week of the season but Sydney got their revenge on Saturday.
Tom Dawson was the standout for the visitors with 18 points and a whopping 20 rebounds, while Blake Borgia had 23 points and and seven rebounds.
Aside from Jackson, guard Tyson Demos (15 points) was the only other Illawarra player in double figures, though he made just six of 23 field goals.
Zac Delaney tallied seven points, 12 assists and four steals, while Luke Dowson chipped in eight points.
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