KELLY Wilson was back yesterday where it all started for the Bendigo Braves this season – on the former show court at Bendigo Stadium.
Although it’s no longer court one and instead now known as court six, the place still holds a special place in the 2018 SEABL championship point guard’s heart.
It’s here where Wilson has played the greatest share of her nearly 250 SEABL games and dozens more in the eight of the 16 seasons she spent in the WNBL with Bendigo Spirit.
It’s also here where she insists the Braves women’s journey to a national championship began.
A dominant title-winning season was sealed on Saturday night when the Braves defeated Launceston Tornadoes 119-96, with Wilson (27 points, 20 assists) one of the stars of the win.
While it was always going to take plenty of hard work for the Braves to notch their first championship in 11 years, Wilson insisted the team’s potential quickly became apparent in their earliest training sessions on the old court one.
“Then in the pre-season – we went away to Geelong and played a few pre-season games and right from the get-go we just gelled,” she said.
“We had an amazing weekend and that’s obviously a positive sign, but that doesn’t guarantee a championship.
“I guess one of the best things about our team was that at no given point did we think this was just going to happen for us, we had to work hard every single game.
“Even though we were undefeated during the regular season, we still just took it week-by-week and game-by-game.
“It’s honestly been one of those fairy tale seasons where everything kind of fell together. It was just an amazing effort by the group to top it off on Saturday night.”
For someone, who has played alongside her great friend Gabe Richards so many times at WNBL, SEABL and junior national championship level and watched her so often dominate games, Wilson could only marvel at the champion centre’s dominant game MVP-winning performance which produced 43 points and 24 rebounds.
“It was pretty impressive – and if you are going to play like that, why not make it in a grand final,” she said.
“She was phenomenal. Let alone to score 40 something points, to somehow get 24 points really tops it off.
“I am so proud of her. We have played together for so long, but what else can I say.”
Wilson, who will soon embark on her 17th WNBL season with a new club in Canberra, said more than anything she felt privileged to be able to represent Bendigo in a national sporting stage.
“To be honest, I thought I would miss playing on the old court one, which is now court six, but this new stadium that Bendigo has been gifted, and the crowds and atmosphere and support we’ve had all season has been such a pleasure,” she said.