They didn't win the title but manager Paul McCarthy didn't make the Hawke's Bay Under-15 boys' indoor cricketers walk back home from the junior national provincials in Christchurch.
The Mike Pawson and Luke Kenworthy-coached side, in their second year in the grade, lost in the final to Southern Districts by three runs in the three-day tourney at the Action Indoor Sports Hornby and newly refurbished Howzat Indoor Sports Stadium on Monday.
But on the flip side, nine boys from myriad age groups in the Bay contingent have been selected to compete in the Junior World Series from September 29 at the same venue.
"The final was always going to be a tough encounter and that proved to be correct with some viewers describing it as the game of the tournament," McCarthy said.
Liam McCarthy, Baylee Foote and Samuel Pawson were the top three, respectively, in not only their team and grade statistics but also in the overall tournament involving 260 players from all the grades.
The trio gained national selection with Lovepreet Padda and James Rawnsley. So did Charlie Pawson, who made the cut for the 13-and-under team while playing for the Bay under-15s.
"The boys came across an unknown and slightly older team out of Nelson who had not participated in last year's tournament. They beat this team in round-robin play by 1 run after remaining unbeaten, 7 from 7, leading up to the semifinal against Auckland. The boys rose again against Auckland displaying all their batting and bowling skills in winning this game in relative ease," he said.
The Bay 17-and-under boys' side, which included five players who were new to the indoor code, lost their semifinal to Canterbury, who went through the round-robin phase of the tourney as the top team.
However, McCarthy said the Bay boys improved with every game and by the end of the tournament were competitive in all aspects.
"All the players deserve a special mention. However, there were valuable contributions from Joey Field and Logan Trower who both gained selection in New Zealand teams to compete in the junior world indoor championship."
The 17-and-under boys were still relatively young and their prospects looked good.
The U15 Development side, he said, were inexperienced but grew in confidence and ability with every game under the captaincy of Reece Henderson and another first-year player, Tom Cavaney.