Bendigo Lady Braves silence Horsham Hornets in Country Basketball League grand final

BENDIGO Lady Braves have scored back-to-back conference championships in the Country Basketball League following an impressive 22-point win over Horsham Hornets.

The Nick Salm-coached Lady Braves were able to silence a packed and vocal crowd at Horsham Basketball Stadium to win 56-35.

A run of 12 unanswered points from midway through the second quarter proved fatal for the Hornets, as the Lady Braves posted a 25-13 half time lead after scores were earlier tied at 13-apiece.

The Hornets were able to pull with seven points at three quarter, but the visitors saved their best for the final quarter and piled on 23 points to the home side’s eight to power to victory.

Poppy Blanch led the way for the Lady Braves with 13 points and had great support in Caitlin McLachlan (12), Shardae Sharp (10) and Madeline Sexton (six).

Emalie Iredell was easily Horsham’s best with 13 points, while Maddison Iredell scored seven.

The Lady Braves did a great job in restricting Caitlin Storey to four points.

The star Hornet came into the game averaging more than 12 points, including 18 in the previous week’s semi-final win against Maryborough Blazers.

Their win was made more impressive by the fact the Lady Braves were without several of their under-18 stars, who were playing in a tournament in Wodonga in preparation for next weekend’s state titles.

Those missing were Danielle O’Toole, Maddi Condron, Tess Barnes, Kate Douglass and Sahara Rodda.

Coming into the line-up were Emma Pedretti and Courtney Matthews.

It was coach Salm’s first season in charge of the CBL after last year’s championship was won under the guidance of new SEABL coach Megan Moody.

Meanwhile, the Braves men were unable to make it a double, going down to the Hornets 63-74.

Matt Andronicos and Tanner Rayner top scored for the Braves with 15 points apiece, while Lewis Beks finished with 14 points and Rhys Brown had nine.

Jack White and Liam Ly both finished with five points.

For Horsham, Tim Pickert did the most damage with 22 points, on par with his season average of 21.14 points, while Matt Lovel finished with 14 points.

The Hornets ended the season as minor premiers with an 11-1 record, one win ahead of the Braves.

The ledge between the two teams was level at one apiece before Saturday night’s final.

Bendigo led the contest by two points at quarter time, but were down by seven at half time and five at three quarter time.

The Hornets’ last quarter effort was led by Pickert, who scored eight of his 22 points.