The Airs’ season ends winless but with huge heart.
As the season ends for the Augusta Taranaki MountainAirs the records are mounting even though win eluded them.
On Sunday night the Airs came out fighting and gave their home crowd an awesome end to the season. Aaron Fuller played an outstanding game breaking the NBL record scoring 54 points in a game and pulling in 19 rebounds.
“It feels good to take the record but it would have been a lot sweeter to finish the season with a win. Individually it is kind of good but I would have rather got a win with the team to be honest,” said Fuller.
“Tonight’s game felt pretty good until we made a mistake and didn’t go into overtime. It would have been better to have a win but I mean we had some injuries. We just kept fighting and I’m proud of our guys in how we finished the season. We just didn’t lay down and give up but we kept fighting.”
The Airs challenged the Super City Rangers the entire game with the lead changing 12 times. The Rangers jumped ahead 14 points with the Airs’ determination pulling them back in to the game.
With import Chris Hagan out with injury Houston O’Riley stepped in to help adding 11 points, five turnovers, one steal and three assists.
Aaron Bailey-Nowell had a great game adding 19 points, seven rebounds, six assists, three turnovers and three steals. He had some great tussels with Casey Frank ending the game on four fouls unlike Frank who fouled out near the start of the fourth quarter.
The first quarter ended 34 – 30, second 66 – 60, third 90 – 84 and full time was 110 – 108. The crowd were on their feet for the last five minutes of the game urging the Airs towards their first win.
Assistant Coach Willie Banks is already thinking 2016 and said hopefully they can take this momentum into next year.
“It was a great game for us to finish on just too bad we didn’t win that is the bottom line. Our guys played really, really well and showed their heart. We are pleased with that especially being the last game of the season.
“We were down an import and some players were sick. That is no excuse but compared to what they have (Rangers) we are always pleased with how our guys played and it certainly shows the character of our team.”
Coach Daryn Shaw ended the season frustrated yet full of praise for how the team kept their heads up and kept working hard.
“With a season of adversity, with injury to our main player, that really affected us because of our depth. We had some really, really good games but still lost. Then we had a couple of games that weren’t so great.
“This was a good game but not the result we were looking for. They are a very, very good team. It just goes to show without an import and without one of our starters the boys played really well. It would’ve been great to close it out. We are upset obviously when we have finished the season and not won a game.
“Aaron Fuller has made a huge impact for us and so has Chris Hagan until he got injured. He really, really is a warrior who just got on the court hurting and played his heart out.
“Our local guys, our young players, they came and did well tonight. We are very proud of how Lachie Fenwick and Beauden Giddy played tonight. Also during the season we were very happy with our big men Quintin Bailey and Xavier Shaw. All year these young guys have done really, really well for us. We just couldn’t ask for anything more from them.
“The team threw everything on the line tonight. We were really proud of how they played. We have a lot to build on for next season but it is quite demoralising when you don’t win. We just have to keep our heads up and work hard.”
Both teams were evenly matched in their stats with the Airs taking 19 points from turnovers with the Rangers 22. The Airs took 34 rebounds compared to the Rangers 33. The Airs pulled in 38 rebounds with the Rangers 37.
The Airs had the opportunity for the win with 58 points in the paint compared to the Rangers 46 and second chance points 20 with the Rangers 6. The Rangers landed 11 from 26 of their three pointers with the Airs only managing three from 14.
The foul count climbed as players put their bodies on the line with Rangers’ Dillon Boucher and Casey Frank exiting the game and Reuben Te Rangi ending on three.
Airs’ Aaron Bailey-Nowell and Houston O’Riley ended on four fouls with Aaron Fuller and Derek Albertsen on three.
What an awesome game for the Airs to end their season in true unique “Augusta Taranaki Mountainairs style”.