The Kilsyth Cobra Men have fallen in their first round qualifying final in one of the games of the year, losing to the Hobart Chargers, 96-98 on Saturday night.


A spectacular opening to the 2018 SEABL postseason, the Cobras and Chargers traded leads four times in the final minute of play, before seeing the game end on a sour note in the final seconds.


“It was a disappointing way to lose such a great game, but that’s what playoff basketball should be like – possession by possession and the athletes being the showcase,” Cobras head coach Justin Schueller said.


Trailing by seven points with 3:30 remaining, Chris Patton, Isaac Turner and Ben Ursich came up big to help the Cobras claw their way back into the game. Patton started the spurt with a midrange jumper, Turner followed with an and-one finish in transition after a Chargers turnover, and Patton drained a hook shot inside to tie the game at 89.


The Chargers responded with four straight points, but Turner answered again, this time with a tough double-clutch finish inside to trim the lead back down to two. Ursich then completed the comeback with a transition corner three to put Kilsyth ahead, 94-93, with one minute remaining, sending the capacity crowd into a frenzy. The Cobras forced another stop, but the Chargers Mathiang Muo muscled his way inside to gather an offensive rebound and draw a foul, draining both free throws to put Hobart back on top.


Then it was Sam Daly’s turn to respond, with the point guard wiggling his way inside for two free throws – hitting both to put Kilsyth ahead, 96-95. After a pair of empty possessions, the Chargers Tre Nichols delivered a crushing blow to the Cobras, scoring a tough, left handed layup over the outstretched hand of Patton for the go-ahead bucket with three seconds remaining.


Out of timeouts, the Cobras inbounded to Daly on the right side, where he appeared to be immediately fouled by Hobart’s Zac White. But Daly was inexplicately called for a travel – much to displeasure of the home crowd – and the Kilsyth bench received a technical foul in protest of the call to essentially seal their fate. With free throws and possession, the Cobras quickly fouled Nichols, but the guard missed both free throws and the ball was scooped up by Ursich with under two seconds remaining. But Ursich stumbled as he tried to manoeuvre around White, unable to get a final shot off to see their hopes of advancing to a home preliminary final crushed.


Coach Schueller was less than impressed with the final sequence of events, but also mulled over his team’s missed opportunities on the defensive end, errors which enabled a hungry Hobart team to stay close.


“The boys were hurting for sure after that (loss), especially after Sam got taken out and then called for travel,” Schueller said.


“We need to be better though; we gave them too many O-boards and missed our scout too many times which cost us.”


“Hats off to Hobart as their three key guys (Nichols, Mou and Craig Moller) were great, especially when we had to sit key guys for us in foul trouble in the third. Craig took advantage of Dane (Pineau) needing to sit for sure.”


The Cobras were hampered by foul trouble throughout, with von Hofe and Pineau fouling out while Turner was limited in the first half after picking up two early fouls.


And despite outshooting the Chargers from the field (56 percent to Hobart’s 46 percent), the Cobras were doubled up at the charity stripe (28 free throws to 14). Patton and Turner led the way for the Cobras on the offensive end, with Patton scoring a team-high 21 points to go along with eight rebounds and four assists, while Turner added 19 points in just 22 minutes of action. Ursich finished with 13 points, eight rebounds and three assists; von Hofe added 12 points off the bench; Daly recorded 11 points, seven boards and three assists; and Pineau chipped in with 10 points in defeat.


“I loved how we played our offence and moved the ball; there’s not to many times you will lose when you have six guys score in double figures,” Schueller said.


Despite the loss, Schueller remains upbeat about his group’s chances moving forward, with the Cobras set to return to Hugh McMenamin Court this Saturday as they take on the Bendigo Braves. The Cobras defeated Bendigo in impressive fashion earlier this season, and with an incredible home crowd behind them, Schueller and co. are confident heading into Saturday’s do-or-die game.


“Nothing will get in the way of these boys achieving our goal – we will take this hit but use it for motivation moving forward,” Schueller said.


“Our crowd was awesome on Saturday – it was a true playoff atmosphere. We look forward to them all being back next week and encourage them to bring a friend – they wont be disappointed.”


The Cobras take on the Braves at 7pm on Saturday night, with doors opening at 6.30pm.