Defence the centre of Lady Braves' attention

BENDIGO Lady Braves coach Jonathan Goodman has warned his players about the pitfalls of focusing too heavily on Hobart Lady Chargers star Cayla Francis ahead of Saturday night’s SEABL women’s east conference grand final.

ATHLETIC: Bendigo Lady Braves forward LaSondra Barrett. Picture: LIZ FLEMING

ATHLETIC: Bendigo Lady Braves forward LaSondra Barrett. Picture: LIZ FLEMING

Francis has dominated the SEABL in her 13 matches this season, averaging 23 points and 13.5 rebounds per game.

The centre has scored more than 17 points in all 13 games and has grabbed double figures in rebounds in all but two matches.

While those statistics are imposing, Goodman is well aware that Francis can’t beat the Lady Braves by herself.

Hobart needs to find scoring punch elsewhere and that’s Goodman’s focus.

“We handled Cayla pretty well last time (20 points and 14 rebounds), but they still beat us,’’ Goodman said.

“(Ashton) Eaton and (Klara) Wishon stepped up that night and hit some really big shots.

“It was the support crew that hurt us. It’s not all about Cayla.”

Hobart defeated Bendigo in both of their regular season matches, but a final round loss cost the Lady Chargers top spot and home court advantage in the play-offs.

 “Hobart will go in with a lot of confidence, but so will we on the back of our past two games,’’ Goodman said.

“The biggest thing for us is our defence. If we play with that same defensive intensity as we have the past two weeks then we can restrict Hobart to a low score.”

Offensively, the Lady Braves have the edge on Hobart in scoring depth.

Seven players scored more than seven points in the Lady Braves’ semi-final win over Frankston.

“On any night anyone can step up and post big numbers,’’ Goodman said.

“Our spread of scoring in the past two games has been important. We’ve had four or five players score in double figures.

“That’s one of the key performance indicators for us.”

Hobart coach Mark Nash said the Lady Chargers’ wins over Bendigo mean little.

“Bendigo has been one of the benchmark teams of the competition over the past few years and one that we’ve tried to model our club on, on and off the court,’’ Nash said.

“To get two wins against Bendigo has been great, but the regular season results don’t count for much now.

“We’re going to need to play very well if we’re going to win the game.”

The Lady Chargers squad includes US import Kathleen Scheer, who was signed by the Bendigo Spirit two years ago but injury forced her to leave the club early in the WNBL season.

“Kathleen has been fantastic for our club on and off the court,’’ Nash said.

“She’s been a real find for us over the past two years. She can break the game open from the three-point line and have an impact inside.”

Nash said the Lady Braves’ depth was the key to Bendigo’s success.

“They keep coming at you… at every position they have someone who can hurt you,’’ he said.

“Their depth is as good as any team in the competition.”

The winner of Saturday night’s clash qualifies for a crack at the major prize – the SEABL national championship – in Melbourne on September 14.

The east conference champion will play the winner of Saturday night’s south conference final between Brisbane and Geelong.

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