The Geelong Supercats have reached the ultimate success in their first ever SEABL Grand Final, defeating the Bendigo Braves 76-67 on the back of a 50-27 second half.
Trailing by 14 at the main break, Geelong coach David Herbert implored his team to play with freedom in the second half and they came out with an 8-0 run.
They were intent on getting their running game going while their defence was also exceptional, completely shutting Bendigo out of the paint and holding them scoreless for five minutes.
Kelly Wilson was able to break the drought for the Braves but with the Supercats owning the front court, it opened up the court and Ellen Kett took full advantage.
She went on a blistering two-minute spree, scoring 11 points with three three-pointers to give Geelong their first lead of the game.
Her incredible shooting also sparked the Geelong fans who had made their way down the highway and ensured the Supercats had all the momentum.
A late three-point play from Jess Rennie kept Bendigo in front by just a point a three-quarter time but the Supercats’ momentum could not be slowed, hitting four of their first six shots of the final period.
Ebony Rolph came alive with a couple of nice jumpers but Bianca Dufelmeier (eight point) kept touch courtesy of consecutive cuts to the basket and she then put the Braves back in front with a corner three-pointer as the game entered the final three minutes.
Maddison Wild came off the bench with a turnaround jumper however Sara Blicavs (25 points, 13 boards) would not be denied with a quick response.
Isabella Brancatisano then picked up a steal and ran the length of the court, scoring a tough lay-up through contact to move the Supercats ahead by three with 1:20 remaining.
Rolph (12 points, seven rebounds) drilled a baseline jumper on the following possession and Bendigo had a chance to set up a play out of a time-out but a stop at the other end of the floor for Geelong sent the bench into celebrations before Kett sealed the victory from the free-throw line.
“I was really proud of the way the girls stepped up in that third quarter,” said Supercats head coach David Herbert.
“Ellen stood tall. I was saying to the assistant coaches she’s the X-factor for us, if she gets going we’re in great shape and she was amazing in that quarter.
“We threw the zone out on the floor in the third quarter, that obviously changed the tempo of the game.
“We were able to get control and ascendancy from there and on the back of that I felt we were going to win.”
Coming into the clash, one of the key match-ups to watch was Blicavs’ battle with Chante Black but Black took the ascendancy early with eight quick points while Geelong showed a few nerves with 1-7 shooting to start.
They found themselves trailing 2-10 before Blicavs scored the first seven points for her side but Black continued to go to work, tallying 12 points and a block by quarter-time to give the Braves a nine-point edge.
The first break came at the perfect time for the Supercats though who were able to re-group and start the second term with a 7-0 run as Isabella Brancatisano (eight points, six assists) knocked down a three to combine with Blicavs who had a double-double in just 16 minutes.
Their momentum did not last long though with Kelly Wilson (12 points, ten rebounds, eight assists) controlling the tempo from the point guard position, penetrating with drives and dishing to her front court.
With Ash Rininger coming off the bench, the Braves front court were dominating down low and she added 12 points and eight rebounds for the game.
Alongside Black (15 points, nine rebounds) and Carlie Smith (11 points, nine boards) who kept the scoreboard ticking over, Bendigo opened up a game-high 14-point lead at half-time but it would not be enough to contain Geelong’s second half onslaught.
Find the box score here.
For her inspirational third quarter, Kett was awarded the Barb Barton medal as the Grand Final MVP. She finished with 17 points, 11 of which came in the third quarter when she turned the game on its heads while also adding six rebounds and two assists overall.
“We’ve got a function back in Geelong so we’re looking forward to getting back there and enjoying the night,” said Herbert.
“I’m so proud of these girls, they did a tremendous job.”