THE Bendigo Braves and Lady Braves dominance of the SEABL regular season counts for little as they prepare to host Saturday night’s major semi-finals.
The Braves and Lady Braves produced a combined 43-11 win-loss record in the regular season to finish on top of the men’s and women’s east conference ladders.
Their reward is home court advantage for Saturday night’s semi-finals against Geelong (men) and Sandringham (women).
Victory guarantees home court advantage for the conference grand finals in a fortnight.
“This is where we wanted to be... we wanted to finish on top,’’ Braves coach Ben Harvey sad on Friday.
“At the start of the year we thought we’d need to produce a 22-6 type season to get top spot and that’s what we finished up, 22-6.
“22-6 is a good record and we’re happy to be in this position, but realistically we’re back to 0-0 now. The play-offs are a new season and it’s up to us now to perform.
“We’re really looking forward to it.”
On paper, the Braves have the tougher task.
The Geelong Supercats are a power of the SEABL.
Geelong and Bendigo shared the same win-loss ratio this year, 22-6, had the same records at home, 13-1, and away, 9-5.
Their was little between the two teams in their regular season matches – Geelong won 87-82 in round one, before the Braves bounced back to win 94-84 in round 13.
“Geelong is well coached and they execute their offence great,’’ Harvey said.
“The key for us is playing with purpose, our second efforts and playing team defence.
“Both teams can score at will when they’re on, so our team defence is going to be crucial.
“We don’t want this game to turn into a shooting competition. We need to control the tempo.”
The Lady Braves host Sandringham in their semi-final on Saturday night.
The Lady Braves cruised into the play-offs on the back of four-straight wins against mediocre rivals.
Sandringham has made a strong run in the second-half of the regular season, winning 13 of their 15 games.
One of those matches was a win over the Lady Braves in Bendigo in round 11.
The Lady Braves’ depth and athleticism will be their trump cards in the play-offs.
Renae Camino, Lauren King, Maddie Garrick and Heather Oliver are all capable of scoring 20-plus points per game.
Guards Jane Chalmers and Ebony Antonio are also more than capable of making an impact offensively.
The key to Sandringham’s success has been the form of star quartet Micaela Cocks, Hope Terdich, Kate Malpass and Sam Woosnam.
The home court advantage is arguably the Braves and Lady Braves greatest asset.
“Getting the Bendigo crowd involved in the game early on will be crucial,’’ Harvey said.
“Hopefully we get a big crowd there because the home crowd fans are so important in these big games.”
The women’s semi-final starts at 6pm, with the men to follow at 8pm.