WNBL grand final: Bendigo Spirit wins back-to-back titles

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BENDIGO produced a red-hot start and finished in the same style to make it back-to-back WNBL titles with a 94-83 grand final win over Townsville.

Ahead by one at the final change, minor premiers Bendigo scored the first nine points of the final term to send the home crowd bananas.

Relive it moment by moment:

The CHAMPIONSHIP trophy is presented and now its party time now for the Spirit.

BERNIE'S turn now:

"Congratulations Chris and Townsville on making second straight grand final from outside top two. We're trying to showcase women's sport in Australia. How good is this?"

"Fantastic effort by the girls."

Bernie gets emotional as he recognises Kristi's efforts."

BERNIE and Kristi Harrower on stage.

Kristi to talk first.

"Townsville should be proud."

"Spirit fans unbelievable today ... to go back-to-back is so special"

SPIRIT players now receiving their championship medals.

Big cheer for all the Spirit squad. Sara Blicavs very excited to win her first trophy.

Bernie Harrower given a big reception.

THE Rachel Sporn Medal goes to KELSEY GRIFFIN. Huge cheer for Kelsey as she waves to the crowd. Kelsey thanks Townsville and the Spirit fans.

She said the crowd gave the Spirit a huge lift in second half.

NO speech from Townsville coach Chris Lucas. He should have been given a chance to talk.

FIRE players receive their runners-up trophies. Great support for the Fire from their loyal Fire fans who made the long trip to Bendigo.

PRESENTATIONS underway.

First up is the Fire. Big cheer for captain Rachel McCully, who celebrated her 300th game today.

HAVE to feel sorry for injured Spirit centre Elyse Penaluna.

Great to see her part of the celebrations.

GRAND Final presentations about to start.

Crowd still on their feet, cheering and taking in one of Bendigo's finest sporting achievements.

OUTSTANDING game of women's basketball.

Kelsey Griffin a cert for a second-straight grand final MVP.

28 points and 15 rebounds for Griffin.

Harrower not far behind. The little champ had 22 points and 9 assists.

Gabe Richards had a huge last quarter to finish game with 16 points and 6 rebounds.

Batkovic was superb for Fire with 21 points and 9 rebounds. Newley added 18 points and Cumming 14.

FITTINGLY, Kristi Harrower has ball in her hands as final buzzer goes.

 Spirit wins 94-83

Two-straight championships for the Bendigo Spirit.

Crowd on their feet as players celebrate mid-court.

GABE Richards makes 1 of 2 at free throw line.

Townsville miss again. Richards rebounds and is sent back to the line.

She makes both, Spirit lead 93-83, 21 seconds left. PARTY TIME.

CALM before the storm here. Crowd is hushed.

Harrower at line again, She makes 1. 91-80.

Fire's McCully makes basket and is fouled. Makes free throw. 91-83, 36.5 seconds to play.

TOWNSVILLE miss 3, Harrower rebounds and is fouled. Just about celebration time.

Harrower makes 1, 90-80, 59 seconds.

SPIRIT up by 7 with 1:08 on clock.

Griffin at the foul line - she makes both - 89-80.

KRISTI Harrower with a big bucket, Cumming responds with a three. 85-77.

Wilson misses a jump shot, but you know who Kelsey Griffin grabs a massive offensive board and is fouled.

She'll go to the line with the Spirit leading 85-77, 1:46 to play.

THREE minutes to play, Spirit leads 83-75. 

SPIRIT holding firm, lead 81-73 with 4.30 to play.

MASSIVE three from Kelly Wilson and the Spirit crowd erupts.

Townsville offence gone cold.

Richards adds another basket and the Spirit races to a 79-69 lead with 6.13 to play.

Fire scoreless this quarter.

Crowd getting involved, danger time for Fire.

AFTER a quiet three quarters by her own hugh standards, Gabe Richards has stepped up big time for Spirit early in last.

Four unanswered points, one big offensive board and a key defensive play.

Spirit leads 74-69 with 8 mins to play.

ONE quarter to go and the Spirit holds a one-point lead.

Spirit need a lift defensively. Can Griffin and Harrower maintain their form for one more term?

THREE-QUARTER TIME: Bendigo 70 leads Townsville 69

Griffin 26 points and 10 rebounds, Harrower 16 points, 7 assists.

For Townsville -  Batkovic 18, Cumming 16, Newley 14.

GRIFFIN and Harrower keeping Spirit afloat.

Bendigo leads 66-65 with 2.30 remaining.

Griffin 26 points, Harrower 16.

TROUBLE for Spirit. Fire have not missed a field goal this quarter.

Fire leads 55-52 with 6.45 remaining in third.

Time for one of those famous Bernie Harrower sprays.

Townsville on Fire early in 3rd. Spirit defence, usually their strength, can,t get any stops.

Scores level at 52.

HALF-TIME WRAP

The Bendigo Spirit holds a five-point advantage over Townsville at half-time of the WNBL grand final.

The Spirit led by as many as 11 points in the first half, largely on the back of a sensational individual performance from Kelsey Griffin, 19 points and 9 rebounds.

However the star forward was called for her third foul late in the second term and her court time will be managed by coach Bernie Harrower in the second half.

Kristi Harrower has been superb for the Spirit, with 9 pointsand 5 assists.

Chelsea Aubry and Kelly Wilson have 5 points each.

Townsville have a wide spread of scorers. Cumming and Newley have 10 points each, while Batkovic 8 and Wilson 7, have also been impresive.

HALF-TIME: Bendigo 46 leads Townsville 41

A big three-pointer from Mia Newley in the final 30 seconds of the term gives the Fire all the momentum heading into the 3rd.

MASSIVE CALL - Griffin with 3rd foul. 45-38. 1.10 to play.

2.31 to play in 2nd. Spirit leads 43-33. Griffin with 17, Harrower 9.

4.23 remaining in 2nd term. Spirit leads 40-33. Fire playing much better now. Cumming has 10, Batkovic 8, Newley 7.

Mia Newley having big imapct off bench for Fire. She has 7 points. Fire cut margin to 6, 33-27 with 6 remaining.

Griffin on bench with 2 fouls, Kristi Harrower takes over. 5 pts this qrt. Bendigo leads 32-21 with 7.30 to play in 2nd.

QUARTER-TIME: Bendigo 25 leads Townsville 17

Spirit's Kelsey Griffin unbelievable with 14 points and 7 rebs in 1st term.

Batkovic 4 pts and 5 rebs for Fire.

OH my- Kelsey Griffin is putting on a clinic. 12 pts, 5 rebs. Spirit leads 23-10 with 2.30 to play.

4.23 to play in first. Spirit up 14-8. Griffin 5 points, 5 rebounds already. 

Frantic start to grand final. With 5 mins to play in first term, Spirit leads 12-8. 

3.15pm: Here we go - game on. 

3.12pm: Spirit coach Bernie Harrower looks very relaxed. Most nervous on the Spirit bench is fitnes coach Jeff Brennan.

3.10pm: Eliza DeAraugo with a superb rendition of national anthem. 3 minutes of warm-ups left, then game time.

3.08pm: Spirit team introduction. Biggest cheer saved for Kristi Harrower and Gabe Richards.

3.05pm: Suzy Batkovic presented with WNBL MVP award. Well done, Suzy. Outstanding achievement. Team introduction time. Fire first up.

3pm: 12 minutes to go in warm-ups. Both sides going through their paces.

For what it's worth, my prediction today is Spirit by 5 and Kelsey Griffin MVP.

Luke West selects Spirit by 8, MVP Kelsey Griffin.

2.47pm: Crowd erupts as Bendigo Spirit players hit the court.

2.45pm: 25 minutes out from the WNBL grand final. Crowd building nicely at Bendigo Stadium.

Townsville Fire squad makes its way onto the court for the start of warm-ups.

Good to see about 200 Townsville fans in the stands making plenty of noise.

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