Aiming to go one step further than last year after they finished 2017 as Runners-Up, the Bendigo Braves have shaken off the cobwebs in Round 1 to run out convincing winners over the Diamond Valley Eagles.
Playing their first ever SEABL game, the Eagles came out with energy and were buoyed by an exciting crowd to jump out to a ten-point lead in the opening quarter.
Bendigo were able to settle though and reduced the margin to seven at the first break before tightening up their defence in the second term, winning it 18-5 while holding Diamond Valley to 2-19 shooting.
WNBL player Nadeen Payne then took over the contest, pushing the Braves out to an insurmountable lead as she recorded 37 points on 14-19 shooting with 12 rebounds and four assists.
“Both teams had a bit of nerves at the start,” Payne said post-game.
“Once we got into our style of basketball though, it was a lot of fun out there. We had been training well so I was a bit disappointed with our start but overall it was a positive game and shows the character of this club to come from behind.”
Kelly Wilson also dominated with a near triple-double of 15 points, eight rebounds, 12 assists and two steals as she almost equalled Diamond Valley’s tally of 14 assists as a team while also helping the Braves score 13 points off turnovers.
The Eagles have their fair share of WNBL talent as well through Lauren Scherf (27 points, 13 rebounds) and Maddison Rocci (ten points, three assists) who were team mates at the University of Canberra Capitals while rising stars Sharna Ayres collected 11 points off the bench.
They were missing a couple of significant players though with Ezi Magbegor representing the Opals and Chevannah Paalvast the Tall Ferns at the Commonwealth Games.
Bendigo Spirit assistant coach and former coach of the Bendigo Young Lady Braves, Megan Moody is now leading the women’s team and was pleased to get on the winners list in her debut.
“It’s nice to get the monkey off the back,” said Moody.
“We were shaky in the first quarter but we settled after that. We got our running game going and played faster which is how we want to play. We were also able to get the mismatches we wanted, Kelly did a great job directing things and Nadeen got on the boards.
“Ash (Karaitiana) is also battling sickness so full credit to every player, we got two youth league girls on the floor so I’m a very happy coach.”
“Our transition game is something we can keep exploiting oppositions with and being able to execute at the right time is another strength,” added Payne.
Bendigo will have time to recover with a bye in Round 2 while Diamond Valley face a second double-header in a fortnight with games against Canberra and Nunawading.
ROUND 1 RESULTS:
Ballarat def. Dandenong 73-51
Diamond Valley def. by Bendigo 65-92
Hobart def. by Kilsyth 64-101
Sandringham def. by Diamond Valley 64-93
Albury/Wodonga def. Frankston 74-55
Launceston def. by Kilsyth 70-93
Nunawading def. BA CoE 72-57
Geelong def. Sydney Uni 71-63
Melbourne def. by Nunawading 50-72
Dandenong def. BA CoE 80-61