FOR three of the four quarters the Port Macquarie Dolphins were better than Hawkesbury.
So it seems highly unfair that their 68-64 defeat on Saturday night came down to their inability to sink free throws with the game on the line.
It remained a positive result for coach Mark Champion and one that saw him confident about their chances this season.
After all, their record on the road in previous seasons is less than impressive.
"The only thing that stopped us winning on Saturday was that it's been so long since we've won," Champion said.
"We missed five free throws in the last two minutes."
A 16-11 quarter-time lead was turned into a 36-22 halftime deficit which proved too much for the Dolphins to overcome in the second half.
"They had a pretty decent crowd down there and we were a bit shocked by it when they went on a bit of a run," Champion said.
"We're not used to being in close games and we're not used to winning."
Sam Petrie and Josh Minihan fouled out in the final quarter, but the Dolphins still had their chances.
"We just lacked that shooting punch to get us over the hill in the last quarter," Champion said.
Despite Petrie fouling out down the stretch, he provided the spark to get his team back in the contest.
"He's the person that sparked us when we were flat," Champion said.
"Usually you get players that try to put the team on their back and try to do it all themselves, but Sam did the dirty work that you don't appreciate."
The four-point defeat was a far cry from the Dolphins' 45-point hammering the last time they visited Hawkesbury Indoor Stadium.
"Hawkesbury are better this year than they were last year and we have lots to work on, but overall it was a promising start to the season," Champion said.
What else is happening in sport?
While you're with us, you can now receive updates straight to your inbox from the Port Macquarie News. To make sure you're up to date with all the news, SIGN UP HERE.