THE Bendigo Braves and Bendigo Lady Braves dreams of winning the SEABL national championships were quashed over the weekend.
The Braves were blown away by the Mt Gambier Pioneers 79-65 in Friday night’s men’s south conference grand final in Mt Gambier.
The Lady Braves suffered a heartbreaking 79-77 loss to Kilsyth in Saturday night’s women’s south conference grand final.
Lady Braves star Tessa Lavey had two free throws after the final siren to send the game into overtime, but she missed both and the Lady Cobras celebrated.
While Lavey had the opportunity to extend the game it wasn’t her missed free throws that cost Bendigo the title. Poor defence in the first half and giving up too many offensive rebounds and second chance points to the Lady Cobras proved to be decisive.
The Lady Cobras made all the running early.
The Lady Braves are renowned for their defence but the Lady Cobras made them look second rate in the first term as they piled in 27 points.
Kilsyth led by as many as 12 in the second term before the Lady Braves rallied to cut the margin to six at half-time.
The Lady Cobras jumped out of the blocks in third term and again stretched their lead to 12 points.
Inspired by the offensive play of Kelly Wilson and Elyse Penaluna, the Lady Braves bounced back to get within seven points with one quarter to play.
Spurred on by their home fans, the Lady Braves lifted their defence at the start of the final quarter and with three minutes to play they drew level with the Lady Cobras for the first time since the opening minutes of the game.
When Kelly Wilson nailed a free throw 23 seconds later, the Lady Braves were in front and the Bendigo Stadium crowd could sense something special.
However, the Lady Cobras found an unlikely hero in the form of Jordyn O’Shea.
O’Shea, who missed her first six shots of the game, made a big three-pointer and another two-point basket to give her side a four-point advantage with one minute to play. The Lady Braves worked the margin back to one point with 15 seconds left and were forced to foul Sarah Parsons to send her to the free throw line.
Parsons made one of her two attempts leaving the Lady Braves with one last play to force overtime or steal victory with a three-pointer.
Kerryn Harrington drove hard to the basket, but her shot was short. Penaluna grabbed the rebound and forced it out to Lavey, who attacked the basket and was fouled as the final siren sounded. When Lavey’s first free throw failed to drop, the title was Kilsyth’s.
Kelly Wilson led the Lady Braves with 26 points, eight rebounds and five assists. Penaluna added 23 points and 14 boards.