Bendigo Spirit take on Adelaide Lightning and Dandenong Rangers

Kelsey Griffin and Bendigo Spirit will take on Adelaide Lightning on Saturday in Sunbury. Picture: NONI HYETT

Kelsey Griffin and Bendigo Spirit will take on Adelaide Lightning on Saturday in Sunbury. Picture: NONI HYETT

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BENDIGO Spirit will get their first glimpse of what they will be up against this season with a pair of WNBL pre-season games scheduled this weekend.

Aiming to return to the finals for the first time since the 2014-15 season, the Spirit will play Adelaide Lightning in Sunbury on Saturday and Dandenong Rangers in Werribee on Sunday.

Both games start at 3pm.

It follows the Spirit’s first serious hit-out during an intra-club match last weekend.

Coach Simon Pritchard said he was impressed with the offensive output of his players after the three-quarter hit-out ended with a 75-73 scoreline.

“Everyone is really fit and come back in great shape – Arj (Perera, from The Human Mechanics) has done a great job in getting the girls ready,” he said.

“And you have to give the girls great credit for working hard.

“We couldn’t be happier with the way all the girls have returned.

“Ollie (Heather Oliver) has basically been paying state league netball and local netball and is in great shape, you wouldn’t know she hasn’t been playing much basketball.

“But all the girls are in great condition.”

Pritchard, who is in his third year as Spirit coach, was delighted with the early form of new import Betnijah Laney.

The 23-year-old is making a return to basketball after she tore the anterior cruciate ligament in her left knee in June last year, while playing in the WNBA for the Chicago Sky.

Laney is in her second stint in the WNBL after leading Perth Lynx to the grand final in 2015-16.

Pritchard said Laney showed no signs of being hampered by her knee during the intra-club scrimmage.

The Spirit’s other import Rachel Banham is scheduled to arrive on Tuesday after her Connecticut Sun were eliminated from the WNBA playoffs earlier this week.

A BFNL netball preliminary final with Golden Square will prevent centre Gabe Richards from lining up against the Lightning, but Pritchard said she would rejoin the team for the clash against Dandenong.

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