IF A PICTURE tells a thousand words, this photo tells a million.
In the emotion-charged moments after the Griffith Demons under 16s claimed an historic Western Junior League rep title on Sunday, Sandra Graham – wife of the team’s late co-coach David Graham – embraces her son Mason and team manager Chris Rhodes.
The game, against league heavyweights Bathurst and played just days after the funeral of Mason’s father, was won in the final seconds by Griffith, 67-64.
It capped off a stunning tournament for the local Demons, with three sides – the 12 boys, 12 girls and 14 boys – making their respective grand finals and two others – the 14 girls and 18 girls – reaching the semis.
But it was the win of the 16s boys that shone like a beacon over the stadium in Orange, with Mr Graham’s close friend and team co-coach Lou Testoni describing the post-game scene as “mayhem”.
“He was the game day coach and he did an amazing job with these boys ... he would have been stoked about this,” Testoni said.
“He was so looking forward to going away this weekend.
The boys were unbelievably keen to win, we just had to keep their emotions in check.
“Once the final buzzer went, it was just mayhem on the court for 10 minutes.”
The Demons, who only lost one of their 12 lead-up matches, trailed for much of the grand final, with Bathurst’s size and athleticism troubling their
With just three minutes remaining, the Demons were down by six points and needed a miracle to claw back the deficit.
It came in the form of some sharp shooting from Demons’ point guard Beau Warner, who nailed a series of late clutch shots.
Testoni described the win as a “brilliant team effort”, paying tribute the whole side – Mason Graham, Beau Warner, Toki Lolatonga, Broden Hogan, Todd Rhodes, Mitchell Monaghan, Blake Testoni, Blake Schaeffer and Jordan Schaeffer.