Basketball: Goldrush’s third place bittersweet

Todd Marshall.
Todd Marshall.
The Otago Goldrush has ended its women's basketball championship season on a high note, beating the Taranaki Thunder in a nail-biting third and fourth playoff match in Porirua.

The defending champion recovered from Friday's narrow semifinal loss to the Waikato Wizards by securing third place with a tense 54-52 win at Te Rauparaha Arena on Saturday.

The victory was built on a strong performance from Soraya Umaga-Jensen, who contributed 18 points.

Aleisha Ruske added 15 points and Natalie Smith chipped in with seven.

The team had mixed emotions when it returned to Dunedin yesterday, having headed north with a real chance of defending its title after finishing the regular season with just two losses.

"It was good to win our last game, which was a tough game to play,'' coach Todd Marshall said.

"We're reasonably happy with that. You've just got to put yourself in a position to win games.

"We did that [on Friday] and weren't able to finish it off, but I'm pretty happy with how we finished up.''

The Goldrush held on in a seesawing game which neither team was able to take control of.

Marshall described the game as a defensive grind and said he was relieved his side had come away on the right side of it.

"It would have been a disappointing way to end the tournament [with a loss].''

The playoffs series ended the brief national women's basketball calendar, which started in March.

Some players would make themselves available for the National Basketball Championships [NBC] later in the year, a tournament Marshall was not involved with.

"It is a tough part of the women's game - it's such a short little season.

"We began training in February and we're finished now until next year.

"It is tough, but I'm lucky I've had a core group of those players for the last three years now.''

The tournament was won by the unbeaten Canterbury Wildcats, who dealt to the Wizards 68-54 in the final.

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