THE Bendigo Braves withstood spirited challenges from Knox Raiders to win Saturday night's men's and women's basketball matches at Bendigo Stadium.
On the rebound from defeat in the previous round at Albury, the Braves surged to a 14-point lead by half-time of the men's contest.
Import Zach Atkinson scored 18 points in the first half, while consecutive three-pointers by Taylor Bell put Bendigo well in control.
Bendigo went up by 20 in the third, but then turnovers and missed shots proved costly as a Raiders attack led by Rhys Carter and Delwan Graham fought back.
There were some anxious moments for Braves fans in the last, but the play of Dustin Salisbery, Michael Vigor, guard Josh Wilcher and Bell ensured Bendigo would win 100-92.
Braves' guard Kevin Probert celebrated his 200th match for the club with a hard-earned victory.
Probert became the eighth Brave to join the '200 Club'.
Bendigo's best were Atkinson, 22 points and 18 rebounds; Salisbery, 23 points and six rebounds; Vigor, 20 points and five rebounds; Josh Wilcher, 16 points; and Bell, 15 points and seven rebounds.
The Raiders attack was led by Carter, 19 points; Delwan Graham, 17; Robert Linton, 14; and Dylan Hare, 11.
Bendigo coach Ben Harvey said victory was crucial in the lead-up to a tough month.
“Our play in the second and third quarters was excellent,” Harvey said.
Momentum swung dramatically at times.
“When we are switched on we win. It’s as simple as that,” said Harvey.
“A 2-8 record is not indicative of what Knox brings to the court each week.
“We worked really hard to be up by 20, but in a matter of minutes Knox was back in the game.
“Turnovers and loose passes cost us,” Harvey said of the Raiders charge to be within 10 points halfway through the final term.
Unlike previous defeats at home, Bendigo scored 17 points in the last five minutes of the game as the Raiders added 19.
The Braves won the rebounding duels, 46-30.
Bendigo’s assists tally of 16 was led by Wilcher, six; Probert, five; and Bell, three.
The Braves have won three of their past four games.
Bendigo’s run in the next six rounds is at Dandenong, May 24; home against Canberra on May 31; in Canberra on June 14; a home game against Sandringham on June 21.
The Tasmanian double is on June 27-28 at Hobart and Launceston.
Saturday night's play tipped off with a win for the Bendigo Lady Braves.
Bendigo guards Jane Chalmers and Kerryn Harrington were outstanding in their defensive play against Opals and Bendigo Spirit guard Kelly Wilson.
Among the many highs in the 69-63 victory were the play of Chalmers, 17 points; Lauren King, 16 points and 11 rebounds; Lasondra Barrett, 14 points and 12 rebounds; Kerryn Harrington, 12 points.
Assistant coach Joe Turner was in charge as Bendigo's head coach Jonathan Goodman was at a wedding.
"Our rebounding and defensive pressure was superb all match," Turner said.It was Turner’s third time as stand-in coach. The Lady Braves have won all three contests.
"Although we were in control for a lot of the match, we just could not afford to take it easy.
"Knox is a quality outfit and capable of scoring a lot of points and quickly.
"Jane Chalmers and Kerryn Harrington were excellent with the pressure they put on Kelly Wilson (12 points)."
The Raiders line-up included Opals squad member and Bendigo Spirit centre Gabe Richards who finished with a team-high 18 points and 15 rebounds.
Shanae Greaves scored 17 points for Knox.
The Lady Braves are on the road this Saturday to play Dandenong Rangers. Tip-off is at 5.30pm.
Dandenong leads the east conference ladder.
The Bendigo Lady Braves have an 8-2 record and are on top of the east conference ladder in the South East Australia Basketball League.