Bendigo Spirit stars finals bound

Nadeen Payne will be a key for Bendigo Braves in this weekend's SEABL preliminary final against Kilsyth Cobras.
Nadeen Payne will be a key for Bendigo Braves in this weekend's SEABL preliminary final against Kilsyth Cobras.

SPIRIT SIGNINGS SO FAR:

MORE than half of the Bendigo Spirit’s roster for the 2018-19 WNBL season will be involved in finals across the country this weekend.

Six players will lead their teams into finals games up and down the eastern seaboard, including a trio for Bendigo’s SEABL team.

Nadeen Payne, Kara Tessari and Maddi Wild helped the Braves regain title favouritism with a thumping win last weekend against Geelong Supercats and on Saturday night will take on Kilsyth Cobras, with the winner to advance to this season’s grand final.

Braves MVP Payne is averaging almost 23 points per game and 10 rebounds this season, shooting at more than 50 per cent from the field.

Tessari has set the league alight from outside the arc this season, averaging almost 12ppg at more than 52 per cent., while Wild’s breakthough season has continued, with 5.4ppg at almost 50 per cent.

The Braves trio aren’t the only ones impressing in the SEABL.

Nunawading Spectres have had another impressive year, led by Spirit recruit Marena Whittle.

The 2017 league MVP has averaged 18ppg and almost 9 rebounds this season and heads into this weekend’s preliminary final against Launceston Tornadoes in great form.

Nat Hurst notched up an incredible 43 points (27 from outside), seven rebounds and nine assists for Sunshine Coast Phoenix last weekend, in the last game of the QBL home and away season.

The Phoenix will head into the final series on the back of Hurst’s 24ppg at almost 50 per cent for the season.

Up north in the Waratah league, Cassidy McLean’s Newcastle Hunters also head into finals this weekend.

The young star is averaging 7.3ppg this season.

Spirit coach Simon Pritchard said the local leagues were providing the team with some strong competition.

“Spirit recruits Louella Tomlinson (Melbourne Tigers) and Abbey Wehrung (Diamond Valley) were key cogs in their teams’ finals appearances this year as well,” he said.

“We recently had a mini camp with nine of the Melbourne and Bendigo players, and Cassidy, to set the fundamentals for the year, and I liked what I saw.

“The team gelled straight away, and the signs early on are really promising.”

Star American centre Becca Tobin is expected to arrive later this month, and Canadian guard Jamie Scott will arrive once she has completed her international commitments.

The Spirit will complete its roster shortly with the announcement of its development players.

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