BENDIGO Braves’ star Jeremy Kendle took his outstanding SEABL form to another level on Saturday night with a 43-point haul that was the backbone of a hard-fought win over North West Tasmania.
The Braves extended their winning streak to eight and improved their season record to 16-3 with the 100-95 victory over the Thunder in Tasmania.
Kendle’s 43 points were a season-high and came on the back of 35 and 34 point performances in his previous two games.
The import shot 17-of-33 from the field, which included nailing six three-pointers.
“There’s no doubt Jeremy is playing extremely good basketball for us,” Braves coach Ben Harvey said.
“He’s the sort of player who it doesn’t matter if he scores 20, 30 or 43 points, he just wants the team to win and he has certainly been a great selection for our group this year.”
The Braves won in the absence of their other star import Damian Johnson, who missed with an ankle injury.
Taylor Bell (6 points) stepped into the starting line-up for Johnson, while there were also extended minutes for Jake Cowling (16:56).
The Braves trailed by two points with 1:32 left in the game after Joe Chilcott buried a three-pointer for the Thunder.
Chris Hogan put the Braves back in front by one with 1:22 left when he responded with a three-pointer, which was followed by four points in a row to Kendle to push Bendigo’s lead out to five with 40 seconds to go.
The Thunder’s Mason Bragg cut the margin back to three points with 28 seconds left, before Hogan and Kendle iced the game at the free-throw line.
Behind Kendle’s 43 points the Braves also had Kevin White (19), Hogan (12) and Matthew Andronicos (12) score in double figures.
Despite the absence of leading rebounder Johnson, the Braves won the rebound count 35-31, led by seven from Andronicos.
The Braves’ score of 100 was the first time in their past 36 games they have cracked the triple-figure mark.
The Braves and Thunder both shot at 51 per cent from the field and combined for 23 three-pointers.
“Both teams shot the lights out tonight, but down the stretch we were able to get some important stops that helped us win the game,” Harvey said.
“It was a really good team effort, especially with DJ (Johnson) out, but there’s no doubt Jeremy was fantastic with his 43 points.”
The Braves will now prepare for a double-header next weekend, starting in Dandenong on Saturday night, before a home game against Kilsyth from 2pm on Sunday.