Newcastle Hunters’ reign as Waratah Basketball League women’s champions has ended.

NEWCASTLE Hunters’ reign as Waratah Basketball League women’s champions has ended, despite a convincing 74-58 win against Hills Hornets in Sydney on Sunday.

Newcastle entered the match fifth on the points table, after seven wins and seven losses, knowing that they had to win their remaining two matches and have other results go their way to scrape into the finals.

CLASS ABOVE: Suzy Batkovic.

CLASS ABOVE: Suzy Batkovic.

Unfortunately for the title-holders, North Sydney beat Sydney 71-52 at Northern Suburbs Indoor Sports Centre on Saturday to confirm Newcastle would be play-off spectators this year.

Hunters coach Mark Gledson said his team struggled on Sunday because of injuries and illness but the scoreline still “flattered” Hills.

Gledson said skipper Suzy Batkovic was “a vacuum cleaner on the boards”, as evidenced by her haul of 27 points, 24 rebounds, four steals and two assists. Kelsey Moss was also impressive with 21 points, six rebounds and four assists. Gledson was optimistic that this week’s bye would allow his players to freshen up before their season finale, against Norths on Saturday week.

On Saturday, the Hunters men ended an 11-game losing streak with an 85-79 boilover against derby rivals Maitland Mustangs at Maitland Federation Centre.

Newcastle’s victory enabled them to retain the Kibble-Mallon Cup for the third consecutive year. Dane Suttle (23 points and eight rebounds), and Jacob Foy (21 points) led the way for the Hunters, who will be hoping their revival continues against Central Coast on Saturday.

Meanwhile, Boston Celtics have signed former Utah Jazz small forward Gordon Hayward to a staggering  four-year $US128 million ($A163.5 million) deal.