The Swan Hill Flyers men’s team received an early Christmas present with their first Country Basketball League win of the season, defeating Kyneton Tigers 63-61 on Saturday.
The Tigers tied the scores up with just eight seconds remaining in the game, but the Flyers quickly surged forward and Isaiah Bull drew a foul in the key to head to the line.
Bull, 15, with the hopes of the town on his shoulders, rose to the occasion, sinking both free throws to put the Flyers two points ahead.
But with five seconds remaining, Kyneton managed to pounce to the other end to take a shot in their attacking half, but it failed to fall and the stadium erupted to celebrate the men’s maiden taste of victory following Swan Hill’s return from a decade-long hiatus in the CBL.
Swan Hill coach Kane Sparks was amazed at the nerves of steel Bull displayed to will his side across the line.
"For such a young kid to hit two clutch free throws in front of a pretty big crowd, to be able to stand up and do that, it was a really big achievement for him and the boys that were a part of it," Sparks said.
"He really played a lot of minutes for a young kid and the most amount of minutes he's played all year and he really stood up."
The jubilation after the game indicated the importance of the win to his Flyers, with Sparks suggesting a hectic build-up leading into the clash only sweetened the win.
"We only had the eight players on the Saturday,” he said.
“We Had six out, and had two pull out at about 11 o'clock before the game, so that sort of made us rethink our gameplan and how we were going to run the game and defensive match ups.
“But, we obviously got it right in the end.
"I'm really happy with the way they thought back after they looked like being down and out.
"It's just a confidence boost for the boys, too, they've been close all year, they've been really competitive and just to get a win in those circumstances, we're really happy as a side about that.
"I think the boys kicked on throughout the night with a lot of Christmas parties and stuff like that on. It was great and there was a really good feel after the game.
"You can sort of see that whole sense of relief around getting a win under the circumstances, with only a couple of rotations, everyone stepped up, everyone played their role and I was really happy with how they executed down the stretch. Positive signs moving forward."
Two of the stars for the Tigers in Matthew Quinn and Jordan Mangan were heavily involved in the game early, but Sparks had plans for the pair, especially Mangan after his efforts in their round four clash.
To read more about this story, grab a copy of Wednesday's Guardian (December 20).