IT’s been a lean few seasons by the high standards of the Bendigo Lady Braves, but that could be about to change in Saturday night’s women’s east conference final against Sandringham.
Bendigo was one of the SEABL powerhouses for almost a decade from 1999.
But on Saturday night the Lady Braves return to a final for the first time since 2007.
That season was the end of a dynasty under Bernie Harrower’s coaching, which included five conference titles and two national championships.
Against Sandringham, the modern-day crop of Lady Braves will be aiming to write their own piece of club history.
“Bendigo has a very proud tradition of winning and we want to make sure we continue to uphold that,” first-year coach Jonathan Goodman said.
The Lady Braves will start warm favourites in the 6pm tip-off at Bendigo Stadium
Bendigo has a 2-1 win-loss record against Sandringham in 2013 and defeated the Sabres 81-74 in the second semi-final two weeks ago.
Renae Camino dominated with 41 points.
However, the Lady Braves’ strength this season has been a variety of scoring options.
Bendigo’s depth helped it to a 21-5 regular season and top spot in the east conference.
“I think that’s what’s great about our group is that it doesn’t matter who it is that’s scoring, everybody jumps on board and supports it,” Goodman said.
“(Lauren) King’s been quiet the past couple of games, but she can shoot.
“Renae’s coming off a 41-point ball-game and she looks fantastic at practice.
“Maddie Garrick, she’s the sleeper that’s always waiting and there’s Heather Oliver.
“Everyone always forgets Jane (Chalmers), she can come out and have 18 and have a night out. Teams forget her ability to shoot the ball.”
Sandringham has the talent to challenge the Lady Braves.
The Sabres finished second on the east conference ladder with an 18-8 record.
Sandringham swept aside Dandenong 65-45 in last weekend’s preliminary final and boasts WNBL stars of the ilk of Alison Downie and Micaela Cocks.
Hope Walker put Bendigo to the sword with 28 points two weeks ago and has scored 20 points or more in nine of her past 10 games.
“Sam Woosnam, as well, I think she’s got two WNBL championships to her name, so they’re a very talented group,” Goodman said.
Saturday night’s winner will advance to the SEABL championship match against either the Knox Raiders or Ballarat Rush in Dandenong next weekend.