Mixed night of play-off basketball for Braves

Kelly Wilson soars towards the basket in the Braves' loss to Launceston. Picture: ADAM BOURKE
Kelly Wilson soars towards the basket in the Braves' loss to Launceston. Picture: ADAM BOURKE

Bendigo basketball fans don't know whether to laugh or cry.

The Braves' men kept their SEABL championship hopes alive when they defeated the Basketball Centre of Excellence 97-75 in Canberra on Saturday night, but the winning streak of the Braves' women was snapped by the Launceston Tornadoes.

After a perfect home and away season, the Braves women went down 84-77 at Bendigo Stadium and now face a tougher path to the SEABL championship game.

After a topsy-turvy season, the Braves' men saved arguably their best performance of the year for the elimination final.

Led by imports Ray Turner and Jeremy Kendle, the Braves crushed the COE by 22 points on the road.

Turner was inspirational with 37 points, 11 rebounds and two steals.

Kendle set the tone with 19 first-half points on his way to 21 for the match.

Ben Harvey

Ben Harvey

"We were absoultely outstanding,'' an elated Braves' coach Ben Harvey said.

"We had 45 (defensive) stops and 40 stops was the magic number we were chasing because everytime we've hit that number we've won.

"It was a team effort. Kendle was awesome in the first half, Turner was just a beast.

"Daniel Hansen hit some big threes for us, Indiana Faithfull got to the paint and made some big plays, Chris Adkins was awesome defensively.

"Stats don't show the impact (Matt) Andronicos had on the game.

"It was our best team effort by far and we're excited that we've got over the first hurdle."

All 15 of Hansen's points came from behind the three-point line, while Faithfull was the floor general with 13 points, six assists and three steals.

The Braves only had eight turnovers for the game.

They advance to a cut-throat semi-final against the Kilsyth Cobras at Kilsyth next Saturday night.

The Cobras were upset 98-96 by the Hobart Chargers in the second qualifying final.

The winner of the Kilsyth-Bendigo game will take on minor premier Nunawading in the first preliminary final.

The Spectres edged out Ballarat 109-103 in the first qualifying final.

Ballarat now hosts Geelong in the semi-finals. The winner of that match plays Hobart in Hobart in the second preliminary final.

In the women's play-offs, the Braves were made to pay for a slow start.

The Tornadoes jumped the Braves in the first quarter and led by as many as 18 points.

A huge second quarter saw the Braves grab a slender one-point lead at half-time, but the Tornadoes found their shooting groove again in the third term.

A 23-13 burst gave the visitors a nine-point advantage with a quarter to play.

The Braves pushed hard in the final quarter but they couldn't come up with the defensive stops to put scoreboard pressure on Launceston.

The Braves couldn't stop Launceston stars Lauren Nicholson and Alex Wilson.

Nicholson scorched the Braves for 34 points on 13-21 shooting, while Fisher hit seven three-pointers in her 23 points.

Lauren Nicholson was outstanding for Launceston. Picture: ADAM BOURKE

Lauren Nicholson was outstanding for Launceston. Picture: ADAM BOURKE

The Tornadoes did a great job of looking after the ball and only committed seven turnovers.

The Braves missed a plethora of shots from under the basket they'd normally make.

"We didn't do a very good job defensively,'' coach Megan Moody said.

"If you give up 84 points you're not going to win many games.

"Compound that with not making shots you should make then you're chasing your tail."

Nadeen Payne led the Braves with 19 and 13 rebounds, Kelly Wilson had 18 points, 14 assists and six boards, Kara Tessari hit four three-pointers in her 14-points haul and Gabe Richards added 13 points and 14 rebounds off the bench.

The Braves have the double chance and now host Geelong next Saturday night in a semi-final.

If they win that match they advance to a preliminary final clash with Kilsyth in Melbourne.

"We can use this as motivation and hit the court hard this week to work on the things we didn't do so well this week,'' Moody said.

"We would have loved to win, but the sun comes up tomorrow and we work hard to prepare for next week."