Big V Braves women aim to secure finals spot

THE equation for Bendigo Braves’ Big V Youth Women’s Championship team this Saturday night is simple.

Win against Kilsyth Cobras at Bendigo Stadium and the Braves are guaranteed a finals spot.

Lose and they will need to sweat on the outcome of the Cobras’ Sunday clash against Altona Gators and a pair of matches involving the Waverley Falcons against Nunawading Spectres and Knox Raiders.

The Braves will enter their crucial showdown against the Cobras in excellent form following three straight wins and victories in four of their last five games.

They are coming off a dominant 81-47 win against Bulleen Boomers , highlighted by a pair of 20-point games from stars Danielle O’Toole and Jess Mangan.

Not only did the duo contribute nearly half of their team’s points, they combined for 19 rebounds.

Braves coach Cameron Wilkosz said his side would take plenty of encouragement from an earlier season win against Kilsyth, by four points on the Cobras’ home court.

“We’re definitely worthy of being a finals team, we’ve actually been sitting second for most of the season, but lost a few games we shouldn’t have a few weeks ago,” he said.

“But we’ve backed (the losses) up pretty well. We travelled to Bulleen last weekend and won by 35 points, so we are definitely one of the better teams.

 “We beat the top team Ringwood a couple of weeks ago on their home court by 20 points, so we can beat anyone.”

Wilkosz did not hesitate in branding O’Toole as one of the leading contenders for the league MVP award.

The versatile youngster is averaging 17.6 points, 8.5 rebounds and 2.65 assists and has hit more than a dozen more three-pointers than her two closest rivals in the league.

She is also ranked second in the league in steals with 57 at 2.85 per game.

“She will go very close to winning the league MVP, I’m sure,” Wilkosz said.

“She has suited up five or six times for the (SEABL) Lady Braves and is getting some really good exposure alongside the experienced girls.”

The Braves are also getting solid production from  Hayley Harrington, who leads the team in rebounds (9.45 per game) and is averaging 10.1 points, Mangan (9.53ppg and 7.71 rebounds), Sharna Appleby (7.95ppg and 4.38rpg), and Shardae Sharp (6.14pppg and 4.38rpg).

The Braves play Kilsyth at 6pm.

Meanwhile, the Braves Youth League One men’s team will round out their season with games against Geelong Supercats at Bendigo Stadium on Saturday night at 8pm and away on Sunday against Corio Bay Stingrays, but won’t be playing finals.