Braves in trouble, Lady Braves sizzle

THE Bendigo Bank Braves’ season is alive – just.

The Braves lost their final home game of the South East Australia Basketball League season to Kilsyth 82-67 on Saturday night.

However, Frankston’s loss to Sandringham means the Braves have a faint pulse as far as making the south conference play-offs is concerned.

In next week’s final round, the Braves need Frankston to lose at least one of its two games in Tasmania and Frankston to drop its match to Nunawading.

On current ladder positions both scenarios are more than likely to occur.

However, the Braves would also need to defeat south conference leader Mount Gambier.

The Pioneers haven’t lost at home all season and have dropped just four games in total.

On Saturday night’s form against the Cobras, the Braves would need to improve dramatically to give the Pioneers a scare.

“We couldn’t win a big game on our home court and, if you can’t do that down the stretch, you start to question whether you should be in the finals,’’ Braves coach Ben Harvey said.

“After that performance I question are we good enough?.

“It’s very disappointing. It was our second worst score of the season and defensively we couldn’t contain our opponents.

“It’s very frustrating to play like that in a  game that meant so much.

“Can we beat Mount Gambier? Absolutely. Our best basketball is good enough.”

The Cobras set up the win with a dominant first half.

They led by six points at quarter time and blew the Braves away with a 22-10 second quarter.

The Braves responded strongly in the third quarter to reduce the margin to single digits, but the Cobras had all the answers in the final term.

Dustin Salisbery led the Braves with 18 points, while Zach Atkinson and Josh Wilcher added 16 points each.

The Braves shot the ball at just 15.8 per cent from behind the three-point arc.

While the Braves’ season is on the brink of extinction, the Bendigo Lady Braves secured the double chance for the women’s east conference play-offs.

The Lady Braves’ dominant 98-59 win over Kilsyth on Saturday night means they can finish no lower than second on the ladder.

The Lady Braves, who have the bye in next week’s final round, need third-placed Frankston to defeat second-placed Hobart on Friday night to secure the minor premiership and home court advantage for the semi-finals.

If Hobart defeats Frankston the Lady Braves will finish second because Hobart holds head-to-head advantage over Bendigo.

Kilsyth had no answer to the Lady Braves’ offensive artillery on Saturday night.

All 11 Lady Braves players scored, led by Kerryn Harrington with 20, Alex Bunton 18, Lasondra Barrett 15 and Rosie Fadljevic 10.

“After we lost both of our games last week the playing group responded very strongly,’’ Lady Braves coach Jon Goodman said.

“To keep them to under 60 points was a great effort defensively.

“We got contributions from everyone which was pleasing.

"The disappointing thing is that we don't have control of our own destiny.

"We have to sit back and watch next week and see where we end up.

"No matter what happens I'm confident we can be successful in the play-offs."

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