Bendigo Braves on a roll and confident of victory in CBL grand final

RED-HOT: Tanner Rayner is in blistering form following a 28-point haul against Mildura Heat last weekend.
RED-HOT: Tanner Rayner is in blistering form following a 28-point haul against Mildura Heat last weekend.

BENDIGO Braves coach Tom Thorn says his players can take confidence from an earlier season win over Horsham Hornets, when the teams clash in a CBL conference grand final on Saturday.

The Braves, who finished the regular season 10-2, qualified for the final with a 21-point semi-final win last weekend against Mildura Heat.

It was the latest of four convincing post-Christmas wins for the Braves that have Thorn convinced his team is getting stronger and the season grows longer.

“The last time we went to Horsham (in round three) we got belted, but we have come a long, long way since then,” he said.

“We’ve turned a lot of tables and made some big adjustments.

“We are pretty confident and know that if we take care of our end, we are pretty hard to stop with so many options and so many players playing well.

“It’s all about us ticking the boxes and taking control of the things we can.”

Thorn conceded the Braves would need to curb the influence of star Hornets Tim Pickert and Matt Lovell.

The pair is ranked second and fourth in the league in scoring, respectively averaging 21.08 ppg (Pickert) and 14.67ppg, and combined for 33 points in last week’s nail-biting four-point win over Maryborough Blazers.

But the Braves have plenty of weapons of their own, headed by Tanner Rayner, who scorched the Heat for 28 points, and ranks third in the league with 20.3ppg

“He’s shooting the ball extremely well at the moment, so that is going to be (the Hornets)  job to try and minimise his impact,” Thorn said.

“If they are able to do that, we do have some other weapons that are able to pop up and get points.

“Matt Andronicos is huge to what we do - a massive glass cleaner and a good leader and voice in the team.

“Lewis Beks is a class player and was a Big V All-Star Five player and Jack White has been extremely consistent this season and had 18 points against Horsham last time, so there are a lot of options who can pop up.”

The threats include Rhys Brown, who is averaging nearly 14 points, including three scores of 20-plus, and Liam Ly, who scored 11 last time against the Hornets.