Spirit keen to turn minor prize into major title

Gallery: Bendigo Spirit v Canberra Capitals

THE WNBL minor premiership is safely secured, but the Bendigo Bank Spirit won’t be satisfied until they lift the championship trophy.

Spirit coach Bernie Harrower allowed his team to briefly enjoy the moment after the Spirit thumped Canberra 83-46 on Saturday night.

Then it was back to business as Harrower tries to guide the Spirit to their first WNBL grand final.

“Considering where the club was 12 months ago...where we nearly folded, it’s a wonderful effort to win the minor premiership,’’ Harrower said.

“Finishing on top of the ladder gives us home court advantage for the play-offs which is a big plus for us.

“But the minor premiership is called the minor premiership because it is just that.

“Adelaide finished on top last year and then went out of the finals in straight sets.

“There’s only one way to make our season successful this year and that’s to win the title. We’ve still got a lot of work to do if we want to achieve that goal.”

Dandenong’s 100-62 win over Logan yesterday sealed second spot for the Rangers.

That means the Spirit will host Dandenong in the WNBL second semi-final on the weekend of February 23-24.

The winner of that game advances straight to the WNBL grand final.

The loser hosts the preliminary final.

On Saturday night, the Spirit had too much class for an under-strength Canberra outfit.

They dominated the first half and led by as many as 44 points in the third quarter before easing up in the final term.

“Adelaide showed us up in a couple of areas last week, so we needed to come back and play with the intensity required for the play-offs,’’ Harrower said.

“For me that was the most pleasing sign about the win. For the first three quarters we played at that high intensity that was missing last week.

“When we play at that intensity I’m confident we can beat anyone in the league.”

The Spirit were lacklustre in the final term, only outscoring the Capitals 9-8.

“I wasn’t happy with the final quarter,’’ Harrower said.

“We had too many poor turnovers and lost our way offensively.

“Our turnovers all night were a problem. We had 21 turnovers where we usually only have 12 or 13.

“It’s things like that we need to get right before the play-offs. The good teams will make us pay for turnovers.”

Forward Chelsea Aubry (14 points) returned to form to lead six players in double-figures for the Spirit.

Kristi Harrower added 12 points, 10 rebounds and five assists before sitting out most of the final quarter.

Renae Camino, Gabe Richards, Kelly Wilson and Kelsey Griffin scored 11 points each.

The Spirit’s final regular season game is next Saturday night against fourth-placed Townsville at Bendigo Stadium.

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