The Central Coast Crusaders Championship Men’s Team competed in the 2019 Spalding NSW Senior Waratah League. The team played 22 games during the season – of these 22 games, they won 16 and lost 6 games providing a win percentage of 72.73%.
Due to such a strong performance during the season, the Central Coast Crusaders Championship Men qualified to compete in the finals weekend which was held at their home court ‘Breakers Indoor Sports Stadium’ located in Terrigal on the Central Coast of NSW.
The Semi Final was played against the Maitland Mustangs, in front of a sold-out home crowd on Saturday 17th August 2019. In a closely contested game the Crusaders prevailed over their arch rivals winning 82-71. This win qualified the Crusaders to compete in the Grand Final against the Manly- Warringah Sea Eagles the following day.
The Central Coast Crusaders fans arrived in droves to support their team against an experienced and strong Manly team, led by current NBL Player, Kevin White. The Crusaders commenced the game on the front foot, scoring the first 9 points of the game before Manly were able to respond by getting their first points on the board.
The Crusaders were able to hold on to their lead for the majority of the game, but the Manly Sea Eagles continually closed in on the Crusaders lead.
In the final 5 minutes of the match, Manly was firing on all cylinders and were able to bear down on the Crusaders with both teams equal with only 1-minute remaining.
The Crusaders were two points down with 30 seconds to play. What happened next wrote Central Coast Crusaders into the Waratah League’s record books. Crusaders Big Man, Cal Jenkins with ice running through his veins sunk 2 high pressure free throws to tie the game.
The Crusaders were given one last opportunity to finish the game in front and with only seconds left on the clock, were able to take possession of the ball and remain composed with Mitch Rueter taking the final shot of the game. The audience sat in anticipation to see if this was the magical shot that was needed to allow the Crusaders to win the game. In what looked to be the game winning shot, the shot from Reuter hit the rim of the basket however, Crusaders big man Cal Jenkins used his experience to position himself for the match winning ‘tip in’.
The Crusaders fans went into raptures with many joining the players on the court to celebrate the win.
The Central Coast Crusaders Championship Men’s Team led my coach Chris Ohlback, assistant coaches Ian Robilliard and Julian Khazzouh are now the 2019 Champions and the first host Association to win, in the history of the competition.
The players within this team are true champions both on and off the court. They train extremely hard with many of the players local residents who have been competing at our stadium since they were in primary school. This players dedication to the game throughout the season, followed by the historic win has inspired the local junior players and will no doubt inspire more young people on the Central Coast to play the sport of basketball, knowing that there is a very real pathway to playing at an elite level.
This win was the culmination of many many years work with the majority of the team having played junior basketball together for the Gosford City Rebels.
One of the players within the Central Coast Crusaders Championship Men’s team, Mitch Reuter was named as the Grand Final MVP with 19 points, 10 rebounds and 3 assists.
Three players from this team also represented the University of Newcastle in the Nation 3×3 Basketball Hustle, finishing runners up in NSW.