Lady Braves aiming to silence Hornets in CBL conference grand final in Horsham

INSTRUMENTAL: Madeline Sexton leads all Lady Braves scorers during the 2017-18 CBL season and is averaging 13.22 points per game, including 22 in an early season game against Saturday's grand final opponent. Picture: STEVE BLAKE, AKUNA PHOTOGRAPHY
INSTRUMENTAL: Madeline Sexton leads all Lady Braves scorers during the 2017-18 CBL season and is averaging 13.22 points per game, including 22 in an early season game against Saturday's grand final opponent. Picture: STEVE BLAKE, AKUNA PHOTOGRAPHY

BENDIGO Braves CBL players are being urged to prepare for a vocal and likely capacity crowd at Horsham Basketball Stadium this Saturday night.

The Lady Braves, who are seeking back-to-back titles, face Horsham Hornets in a north west conference grand final showdown.

With the Hornets involved in both the men’s and women’s grand finals, Horsham Amateur Basketball Association president Owen Hughan has made no secret that he expects a packed crowd.

Lady Braves coach Nick Salm said it was something his players would need to be ready for.

“Horsham is going to be absolutely tough as nails,” he said.

“Their crowd is unbelievable; they have a really great home crowd advantage.

“That’s one area we are probably not used to and it will be interesting to deal with.”

Despite entering the game as slight underdogs, Salm was confident his team could get the job done, after the ledger between the two teams was squared this season at one win apiece.

He said limiting turnovers, which contributed to the Lady Braves’ undoing in both of their losses during an 8-2 regular season, would again be a key focus for his side.

“The Hornets have some great point guards and really quick runners. The last time we played them in Horsham we had 12 or 13 turnovers for the game and that really hurt us,” Salm said,

“When we played them here in Bendigo (a 61-40 win in November) that changed, we really took care of the ball.

KEY: Caitlin McLachlan has impressed for the Lady Braves CBL team.

KEY: Caitlin McLachlan has impressed for the Lady Braves CBL team.

“Another area is finishing our shots and getting those rebounds. The Hornets are a physical team and they don’t let you get away with anything.”

Undoubted keys for the Lady Braves will be Caitlin McLachlan and SEABL signing Madeline Sexton, who scored 22 points against the Hornets earlier in the season.

McLachlan is averaging double figures in points and rebounds and, after a wretched run with injuries, is doing everything possible to earn a call-up to the SEABL program.

On the downside, the Lady Braves will be without their contingent of under-18 players, who will be in action at the Wodonga Junior Basketball Tournament this weekend.

That includes the team’s second leading scorer Danielle O’Toole, who is averaging 11.78 points per game, Tess Barnes, Maddi Condron, Kate Douglass and Sahara Rodda.

Salm said O’Toole’s scoring ability would be a massive loss.

“Her outside shooting has been outstanding all season,” he said.

“That said, those under-18 girls have their own accomplishments to chase with the country championships next weekend.

“Shardae Sharp and Sharna Appleby will be important this weekend and we’ll need Poppy Blanch to hit those mid-range shots.”