Bulleen defeat puts Spirit out of top five

THE Bendigo Bank Spirit remains on track to qualify for the Women’s National Basketball League play-offs despite dropping from fifth to sixth at the weekend.The Spirit lost to minor premier Bulleen on Saturday night, but comfortably accounted for the AIS yesterday to take their season record to 11-8 with three games remaining.The Adelaide Lightning, the only team that can pinch fifth spot from the Spirit, defeated fourth-placed Townsville 54-51 to move ahead of Bendigo. However, an Adelaide defeat to the Lauren Jackson-led Canberra next Sunday combined with the Spirit winning two of their final three games will be enough for Bendigo to secure fifth spot. The major negative to come out of the weekend for the Spirit was injury concerns for Louise McLean and Eleanor Haring.McLean suffered a potenitally season-ending ankle injury against Bulleen, while Haring rolled her ankle against the AIS yesterday and faces a race against time to be fit for next Sunday’s home game against Perth.McLean’s injury had a major bearing on the result against Bulleen.The Spirit took the game right up to the Boomers and scores were level with six minutes remaining.However, the weary Spirit didn’t score for the rest of the game and the Boomers broke clear for a 82-67 win.“We lost Louise McLean to injury and Lauren King fouled out and we lost our way against the best team in the competition,” Spirit coach Bernie Harrower said.“We became unsettled and we never recovered.”Import Chelsea Aubry followed up her match-winning performance against Adelaide the week prior, with a career-high 28 points against the Boomers.Kristi Harrower was her consistent self, adding 21 points, and King scored 10 points, but that was as deep as the Spirit’s scoring went.Guard Kelly Wilson had a night to forget, missing all 10 of her field goal attempts.Bernie Harrower gave all his players a run against the lowly AIS yesterday.The 85-65 victory wasn’t the Spirit’s best performance of the year, but Harrower was content just to grab the points.“It was very hot in the stadium we played in on Saturday night so to back up the next day, against a team that had a point to prove after a poor showing on Friday night, wasn’t going to be easy,” he said.“We didn’t play great, but all we needed to do was win and we achieved that.”Harrower and Aubry were again the stars, scoring 25 and 18 points respectively.Former Bendigo junior Tessa Lavey impressed for the AIS, scoring five points.“I thought Tessa did a good job,” Bernie Harrower said.“She certainly didn’t look out of place at that level.”

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