Willis' one final master-class to no avail against Cairns Marlins
BASKETBALL: As we have come accustomed to, Gladstone Port City Power's Ray Willis put on a typical Willis game with 37 points.
But it was not enough as the play-off-bound and defending title holders Cairns Marlins ran away with a 95-79 win in Willis' final game in Power colours.
The home side fought back after a poor first quarter where Steve Weigh and Damon Heiur were too much with their sublime shooting.
Weigh was too clever in the low post and his fade-away jumpers were a treat while Heiur was deadly beyond the three-point arc with three triples.
The Power's Remy Lawyer (10 points) and Willis led the revival and Patrick Ciganovic got in on the act to close the gap to just two points.
Like all good sides, Cairns settled after Anthony Fisher landed a three and from that point the game was in safe keeping for the visitors.
Outgoing Power coach Blair Smith said his team were up against it.
"They have got a whole lot of NBL players in that team - five NBL players and they are a quality side that will be there come finals time," Smith said.
"We fought hard and there were just some lapses there that cost us the game."
Willis was sent off with a rousing reception and emotions ran high during his speech to the crowd after the game.
When the game was all but gone, Smith put on the future with Boti Hajos, Mitch Knight, Jonathon Voltz and the US College-bound Dylan Owen.
The crowd erupted when Knight shot down a baseline triple and when Owen made a tough lay-up.
"It was good that they came on and get that experience," Smith said.
The Power's charismatic Will Shackleford has also played his final game for the Power and Smith said both he and Willis were crowd favourites.
"It was very emotional for all of us and to say goodbye to a guy like that who has done so much to this club," Smith said.
"Shack has just been a fantastic guy around the club and it was definitely an emotional farewell."
Smith leaves behind a talented group with younger players such as Remy Lawyer and Tyler Allen.
"He (Lawyer) has just been phenomenal this year and he really deserves a spot and every-time we play NBL talented players, he outplays them," Smith said.
"The club really needs him back and Tyler Allen as well.
"These guys have worked really hard and are just getting better and better."
Smith will be replaced by Brady Walmsley next season.
MEN: Cairns Marlins 95 d Gladstone Port City Power 79
WOMEN: Gladstone Port City Power 98 d Cairns Dolphins 79