THE Bendigo Braves bounced back to peak form, upstaging the previously unbeaten North West Tasmania 88-82 at Bendigo Stadium on Saturday night.
The Braves went into the match on a three-game losing streak and they were in danger of losing touch with the top sides in the SEABL south conference.
Led by Michael Vigor and imports Zac Atkinson and Dustin Salisbery, the Braves improved their season record to 4-4 with arguably their best all-round performance of the season.
“North West Tasmania has been averaging 95 points per game, so to keep them to 82 points was very pleasing,’’ an elated Braves coach Ben Harvey said.
“Everyone made a contribution to the win which was the most pleasing thing.
“It just proves than when we play as a team we can compete with any teams in the competition.”
Scores were level with just 36 seconds remaining in the game before guard Josh Wilcher, playing his first game for the Braves, connected from inside the paint to give the home side a two-point buffer with 18 seconds on the clock.
The Thunder then turned the ball over and Salisbery made two crucial free throws to extend the lead to four points with nine second on the clock.
The Thunder turned the ball over once again, leaving Salisbery to ice the game from the line.
Vigor played his best game for the Braves, scoring 21 points on 10-14 shooting.
Despite playing just 16 minutes because of foul trouble, Atkinson scored 20 points on 8-11 shooting.
Salisbery added 19 points, while Chris Hogan made three three-pointers in his 11 points.
On debut, Wilcher had eight points, four rebounds and three assists.
The Braves are at home again this Friday night when they host the Basketball Australia Centre of Excellence.
On Saturday night, the Braves travel to Albury to tackle the Bandits.
“We’ve had a tough three weeks against some quality teams,’’ Harvey said.
“Next weekend we have two winnable games, if we produce the team basketball we played this weekend.”