SPIRIT SOARS

THE Bendigo Bank Spirit last night capped one of the most dramatic fightbacks in Women’s National Basketball League history.Spirit looked gone as Logan Thunder broke away to lead by 18 points with less than five minutes to go in the third quarter at the Schweppes Centre.Inspired by the play of Opals guard and newly-appointed general manager, Kristi Harrower, the Spirit cut the margin to six points as the final quarter tipped off.Baskets by Thunder stars Kristen Veal and Holly Smith gave the visitors a decisive break in Bendigo’s first home game of the 2009-10 campaign.But the Bernie Harrower-coached Spirit refused to yield.Two-pointers by Marinta Payne and Lauren King were followed by a Kristi Harrower three-pointer.But it was the hot hand of Veal which kept Logan in front with another basket.With less than three minutes to go, Bendigo was down 62-65.Harrower’s brilliance in attack, either from beyond the three-point arc or driving through the key, was matched by her teammates’ desperation in defence.A three-pointer by Sarah Graham kept Logan in front, but Harrower’s long bomb from near half-court was all net and cut the lead to a point.Veal was on target from the foul line, and Harrower had a rare miss from the penalty stripe.Jasmine Finnigan’s dive in defence led to the ball being in dispute and Bendigo regaining possession at 35 seconds to go.Louise McLean’s two-pointer made it 70-all at 15 seconds to go.Veal scored once from the foul line, but the Spirit still had a chance.McLean sunk a two-pointer at six-hundredths of a second to go.A tick of the clock later and the Spirit players, coaches and supporters were celebrating a 72-71 win.Spirit led for just 3 minutes 26 seconds, but was in front in the final second.After being restricted to just six points in the first half, Harrower showed why she is one of the world’s best with a game-high 32 points.Points - Bendigo: 32 Kristi Harrower, 10 Marita Payne, 9 Louise McLean, 7 Chelsea Aubry, 5 Jasmine Finnigan, 4 Kelly Wilson, 3 Jane Chalmers 3, 2 Lauren King. Logan: 20 Kristen Veal, 11 Sarah Graham, 10 Holly Smith, 9 Natalie Purcell, 8 Megan Michael.The Spirit will be back on the Schweppes Centre court on October 25 to play the Dandenong Rangers.

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