The Albury-Wodonga Bandits were unable to finish their disappointing season on a high, going down 109-84 to the Geelong Supercats on the road on Saturday night.
It means they close out the year with nine wins and 15 losses and will miss the playoffs for the first time since 2014, after winning the eastern conference in 2015 and making the semi-finals last season.
Another slow start saw the Border side down 29-16 at the first break and they were never able to make any serious inroads throughout the night.
Geelong extended the margin to 19 points at the half, with the Bandits’ best basketball coming in the third term where they outscored the Supercats 27-26.
But they were unable to cut it down in the last as the Geelong won the quarter by six to take plenty of momentum into their playoff campaign with a 109-84 triumph.
Bandits’ captain Jack Duck admitted it was a disappointing result to finish sixth for the season.
“Everyone had higher expectations,” Duck said.
“It is what it is and we’ll take whatever we can into next year.
“You can have all the talent in the world, but if you don’t click as a team then it’s a bit of a waste.
“It wasn’t through a lack of effort this year, we tried our hardest.
“Obviously the results didn’t go our way, but we’ll have some time off now and hook into next year.”
Duck admitted Geelong had all the answers in their final match of the season.
“They came out firing and put us on the back foot pretty early, so once they got going they were pretty hard to stop,” he said.
“Once they got hot, it was too little, too late.
“We got it back to 10 (points) a couple of times, but they kept getting it back to 20-odd which made it hard from there.
“It’s always a tough time of the year with injuries and a few blokes feeling a bit tired, but it was good to get through the night unscathed.”
Duck led the Bandits scoring with 20 points and six assists, while star import TJ Robinson finished with a double-double of 19 points and 10 rebounds.
Darcy Harding had a solid return of 17 points and six rebounds, while Deba George managed 13 points.
Mount Gambier finished top of the eastern conference with a 21-3 record, while Nunawading (17-7), Geelong (16-8) and Sandringham (11-13) also reached the playoffs.
Ballarat, Hobart, Dandenong and North-West Tasmania make up the southern contingent for the SEABL post-season.