THE Symes Motors Bendigo Braves are another step closer to a third-straight SEABL east conference championship after eliminating Frankston on Saturday night.
The Braves dismantled the Blues, 89-73, to earn a crack at arch-rival the Geelong Supercats in a preliminary final this Saturday night.
The news wasn’t so good for the Champions IGA Lady Braves.
The Lady Braves’ season is over after they suffered a humiliating 76-60 loss to Sandringham.
While the Lady Braves will put their feet up, the Braves will go into the preliminary final full of confidence after Saturday night’s win.
“We’re playing with flair and confidence,’’ Braves coach Ben Harvey said.
“Winning seven out of our last eight is outstanding, but it’s all about Geelong now.
“W’re going to have to play the way we have been in the last few weeks.
“We beat Geelong down there a couple of weeks ago and, if we can go into the game with the right mindset, we can win the game.”
The Braves always looked in control against the Blues.
They led by five at quarter-time and eight at the main break before sealing the game with a 29-21 third quarter.
Tom Garlepp was superb against Frankston, scoring 27 points and grabbing six rebounds.
He was ably assisted by Deilvez Yearby, who added 20 points and 21 rebounds.
All of Chris Hogan’s 12 points came from behind the three-point arc and guards Warren Randall and Kevin Probert were solid.
Randall contributed 11 points and three assists, while Probert had seven points, five rebounsd and four assists.
“Everyone is chipping in... which is great,’’ Harvey said.
“Matthew Bartlett came off the bench and in his first minute he hit a three. He also made a nice jump-shot and made some good defensive plays.
“We need the 10 guys to contribute and when that happens it makes life a lot easier.
“We’re playing team basketball and that’s what it’s going to take for us to win it.”
The Braves also did an outstanding defensive job on Frankston’s Chuck Long.
Deilvez Yearby, Adam Tanner and Warran Randall all took turns on Long and restricted him to 13 points on 4-13 shooting.
The winner of Saturday night’s preliminary final between Geelong and Bendigo will meet Dandenong in the conference grand final at Dandenong on September 1.
Meanwhile, the Lady Braves crashed out on the back of a terrible final quarter.
With 8.58 remaining in the game, the Lady Braves trailed Sandringham by just one point.
However, the home side didn’t score again until there was one minute left on the clock and Sandringham piled on 15 unanswered points.
In that eight-minute period the Lady Braves were 0-8 from the field and turned the ball over five times.
Mia Newley and Renae Camino played every minute of the game and scored 22 and 17 points respectively.
Maddie Garrick chipped in with 11 points.
The loss means Lukas Carey’s reign as coach of the Lady Braves is over.