THE Bendigo Braves strangled the Ballarat Miners defensively in the first quarter, and never looked back on the way to a 25-point win in their SEABL season-opener on Friday night.
The Braves recorded the biggest win over their arch-rivals in six years with the 93-68 triumph at Ballarat’s Minerdome.
It was a new-look Braves side that took to the floor.
Apart from stalwart Chris Hogan, the remainder of the starting five were all new players – Damian Johnson, Jeremy Kendle, Kevin White and Matthew Andronicos.
The new group gelled together superbly to lead 19-9 at quarter-time, before extending the margin to 23 at half-time as the Braves held a commanding 47-24 advantage.
“We got some stops in that first quarter and to keep them to nine points was really good,” Braves coach Ben Harvey said.
“We had an all-round game from everyone and it was just a good team effort.”
Kendle (24), Hogan (21), Johnson (18) – who put his visa dramas behind him – and Andronicos (12) all scored in double figures for the Braves.
Andronicos had a double-double on debut, coupling his 12 points with 10 rebounds, while Harvey praised the performance of Hogan in the wake of a broken thumb suffered during the pre-season.
“There had been some doubt over him playing in this game after his thumb injury, but to come out and have 21 points was an awesome effort,” Harvey said.
“As a team, to keep Ballarat to 68 points was a really pleasing effort, so it was a good start to the season.”
It was also a winning start on Friday night for the Bendigo Lady Braves, who won a shoot-out against Ballarat 90-87.