Bendigo Braves women show championship calibre

Bianca Dufelmeier
Bianca Dufelmeier

BENDIGO Braves guard Bianca Dufelmeier believes a powerful 99-74 finals win against Geelong Supercats bore all the hallmarks of a team intent on landing a championship.

“It’s definitely been a long time since we played that way,” the second year guard said on Tuesday, three days after the Braves rebounded from a shock loss to Launceston in the opening round of finals.

“Don’t get me wrong, we’ve had some close wins and some games that some could argue we shouldn’t have won but did, but it was great to see us come together after a loss, come together at the right time and play for each other.

“We won the assist count by 10 – Kelly (Wilson) had 14, Ash (Karaitiana) had seven, Nads (Nadeen Payne) had six – everyone was sharing the ball; and we had four players in double digits.

“We needed to bounce back – as much as we really don’t want to say it, there is a reputation – we went through the season undefeated and lost the first final.

“That signalled to the league we are beatable – every team is beatable – but this has put that little bit of doubt back into other teams’ minds.”

Dufelmeier, who spent the Supercats clash on the bench after being affected by illness last week, watched on as Ash Karaitiana (27 points, eight rebounds and seven assists), Gabe Richards (25 points and 16 rebounds) and Nadeen Payne (20 point, nine rebounds) dominated the Supercats.

The 25 year-old said Karaitiana, who missed the previous three games while representing New Zealand at the William Jones Cup in Taiwan, had returned a far more confident player.

The former Bendigo Spirit star top-scored for the Tall Ferns at the tournament with 22 points per game, which included a 38 point effort in the opening match against India.

“Ash is by far one of our best players and has clearly been missed, so we are so glad to have her back,” Dufelmeier said.

“We want to keep riding this confidence wave she has; she’s unstoppable when she is on that high.

“It’s our job as team-mates to keep her there.”

The Braves meet Kilsyth Cobras on Saturday, with the winner to progress to the SEABL grand final against either Launceston Tornadoes or Nunawading Spectres.

They will be without young gun Ahlise Hurst, who this week departs for the United States, where she will be play college basketball for the University of New Mexico.

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