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Hunters aiming for the top

FINISH in top spot and end their arch rivals’ play-off hopes.
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Those goals are motivating the Newcastle Hunters men’s team as they prepare for their last game of the Waratah Basketball League regular season against Maitland Mustangs at Broadmeadow on Saturday night.

Newcastle (16-3) are assured of a semi-final at Hills Basketball Association on August 18 but a victory over the Mustangs would secure the minor premiership and a lower-ranked play-off opponent.

Seventh-placed Maitland (8-11) have won six straight to remain in the play-off race but they must beat the Hunters, and hope eighth-placed Sutherland Sharks (8-11) upset third-placed Hills Hornets (14-5) at Hills, to sneak past Central Coast Crusaders (9-11) into sixth spot. As holders from last year, Newcastle retained the Kibble Mallon Cup by beating the Mustangs 93-87 at Maitland on March 17, so that will not be at stake on Saturday night.

FINAL FLING: Ryan Beisty will play his last game for the Newcastle Hunters on Saturday night before returning to America to resume his college basketball career. Picture: Dean Osland

“We want to win to finish on top going into the finals and keep our momentum going,” Hunters coach Darren Nichols said.

“We’ve got the Kibble Mallon Cup, so that’s not an issue this weekend, but Maitland have to win to have any chance of making the play-offs so they’ve got everything to play for as well so it should be a great contest, as it usually is between us and them.

“It’s always a tough assignment against Maitland, here or at their place … we don’t want a loss this late in the season, and it would be nice to go into the finals as minor premiers.”

The game against the Mustangs will be Ryan Beisty’s last for Newcastle before returning to Denver next week to resume his college career.

Tip-off is at 7:30pm.

Newcastle’s women’s team, who have secured fourth position, have a bye this weekend.

With a 10-6 record, they will play minor premiers Norths (12-2) in a semi-final at Hills on August 18.

· The Hunters men’s team will play touring American college team University of Colorado Colorado Springs (UCCS) Mountain Lions in an international exhibition game at Newcastle Basketball Stadium next Thursday at 7pm.

ENDS

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