With the race to the finals so tight, every game is important for teams still fighting for position but with sixth hosting seventh coming into the round, it was an even bigger victory for Bendigo over N/W Tasmania on Saturday night.
The close margin throughout the contest exemplified how tense the contest was with neither team able to lead by more than seven points all night.
Bendigo had their noses in front for most of the first half following a 17-13 opening term but the Thunder were always threatening and at the start of the fourth, they had moved in front by a point.
Jeremy Kendle and Ray Turner combined for the Braves’ first 12 points of the quarter though, taking control with the game up for grabs and reasserting the home team’s authority.
Chris Hogan then connected from distance to give Bendigo a game-high seven-point advantage with just over four minutes remaining.
However, N/W Tasmania were not going to go away and Tre Armstrong responded with a three-pointer of his own before Mason Bragg hit two big buckets down the stretch.
Time ran out for the Thunder though, despite another big triple from Armstrong who finished with a season-high 22 points on 7-13 three-point shooting, as Matt Andronicos and Kendle were able to clinch the 79-73 win from the free-throw line.
Bragg performed well in the point guard battle for the visitors, finishing with 17 points, five rebounds and five assists but he could not contain Kendle who had 32 points, 11 boards, three assists and two steals.
Turner also controlled proceedings in the front court with 23 points and 15 rebounds as the Braves owned a +11 advantage on the glass and +16 in points in the paint.
In such a tight race to the playoffs, the Braves have jumped to fifth on the back of their victory while N/W Tasmania were able to split their weekend with success over Melbourne on Sunday to stay in eighth place.
ROUND 13 RESULTS:
After sweeping their road trip in Round 13, Hobart have claimed four wins in a row to race into second spot on the ladder. They took advantage of a loss for Nunawading which saw Ballarat arrest their losing streak while splits of the weekend for the CoE and N/W Tasmania was enough to keep their own place in the top eight. Mt. Gambier are coming for one of those spots though, with the defending Champions winning five straight to jump into ninth. The season may be over for Melbourne after they dropped both games in Round 13, now sitting a game and a half out of a post-season berth.
BA CoE def. by Mt. Gambier 86-88
Diamond Valley def. by Hobart 78-91
Dandenong def. Melbourne 83-75
Geelong def. by Kilsyth 78-95
Canberra def. by Mt. Gambier 68-80
Albury/Wodonga def. by Hobart 65-84
Ballarat def. Nunawading 89-80
Bendigo def. N/W Tasmania 79-73
Frankston def. by Diamond Valley 80-99
Sandringham def. by Kilsyth 80-79
Canberra def. by BA CoE 80-87
Melbourne def. by N/W Tasmania 77-97
Jarryd McGuane looked at the performance of Mason Bragg for The Advocate after he was back to his best on the weekend: https://www.theadvocate.com.au/story/5513246/bragg-back-to-his-best/?cs=88
Leon O’Neill has questioned the mental strength of the Supercats, writes Ryan Reynolds for the Geelong Advertiser: https://www.geelongadvertiser.com.au/sport/local-sport/supercats-coach-questions-players-mentality-following-disappointing-loss/news-story/eb225b290a27b746a2f44280b8782030
The Courier recapped Ballarat’s important win over Nunawading on Saturday night: https://www.thecourier.com.au/story/5512989/ballarat-miners-secure-second-victory-over-nunawading-this-season/
Kieran Iles examined Bendigo’s win against N/W Tasmania to keep their top-four hopes alive: https://www.bendigoadvertiser.com.au/story/5513161/braves-dig-deep-for-victory-against-tough-thunder/
For all the latest news, interviews and recaps from the 2018 season, tune in to 88.3 Southern FM with Bruce Mitchell from 9am every Sunday morning: www.southernfm.com.au