Spirit to ramp up intensity

ALTHOUGH top spot is all stitched up, Bendigo Bank Spirit coach Bernie Harrower is expecting his team to not let up the intensity in tonight’s basketball clash with Townsville Fire.

Harrower last night said the Spirit still had plenty to play for as they chase their 11th home-court victory and 21st in this WNBL season.

”We want to go into the play-offs with momentum and confidence up,” said the long-time basketball coach.

“A week out from the finals (a home-game against Dandenong on February 24)it’s important we do not drop our standards or intensity.

“Townsville (fourth) is a talented team and we have to be on our game from tip-off until the end,” said Harrower.

This season’s meetings between Bendigo and Townsville stand at one-all.

Fire won at home in round 11 by four, but Bendigo hit back to win the return clash by eight points.

In the round 15 clash at Bendigo Stadium, Spirit centre Gabe Richards scored 29 points and racked up 11 rebounds.

“Gabe has had an outstanding season,” Harrower said.

“She is a lot fitter than she was last season and has worked extremely hard on her consistency.

“Last season Gabe played some great games, but has strung a lot more fine games together,” he said of the centre’s run in the 2012-13 campaign.

Not only is Richards a danger in attack, but her rebounding skills at either end of the court have been a key to Spirit’s success.

Key match-ups in tonight’s contest include Richards against Jessica Adair, Kelsey Griffin opposed to Kayla Standish, and the duel between guards Kristi Harrower and Jessica Foley.

“There will be a lot of great battles in this match,” said Bernie Harrower.

Spirit’s wealth of attacking options, which includes the likes of Kelly Wilson, Renae Camino, Chelsea Aubry and Hayley Munro will keep the heat on Townsville’s defence.

Harrower said the team was also determined to hit back after last Saturday night’s final quarter fade-out against the Sydney Flames.

“Our final quarter last week was disappointing.

“It’s important that our pressure and intensity of play is a high level from start to finish.

“We cannot afford to turn intensity on and off like a tap. If we are not ready to play then Townsville will take control.”

Harrower said the Spirit also learnt a lot from last time these clubs met.

“We were up by 18 in the third, but they fought back strongly and we had to work hard for the win.” 

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