The finals dreams of the Maryborough Blazers have gone up in smoke after a shattering two-point semi-final loss to the Mildura Heat on Saturday night.
The Heat were familiar opponents for the Blazers, with the sides having versed each other twice before during the regular season.
Mildura had conceded defeat to Maryborough earlier on in the season, with a 74-65 loss at the Matthew Dellavedova Stadium in round two.
The Heat gained redemption not too long ago, toppling Borough 85-74 at the Mildura Hothouse in round nine.
Again meeting at the Hothouse at the weekend, the Heat overcame the Blazers, leaving their finals dreams in tatters.
Eight of Maryborough’s best faced off with a daunting Mildura roster of 12, but the fight for a place in the conference final spurred the Blazers to keep up.
Harrison Butler kicked off the scoring with the first of many baskets for the night.
Dale Hickey then nailed a free throw, but Mildura quickly evened the score with a three.
Captain Brady Neill, Tom Hurse and Jacob Lohmann also benefitted from some rough play from the Heat, adding several points to the score with successful free throws.
Lachlan Drummond capped off the Blazers’ scoring for the first with a two, one minute shy of the buzzer.
Mildura led by five points at the start of the second and took just two minutes to extend its lead to 10 points.
Neill replied promptly, adding five points to the board, but the Blazers’ comeback efforts were stalled as the Heat took control of the ball for several minutes.
For more on this story see Page 38 of The Advertiser, Friday, February 8