Grand fi­nal glory in reach

The Weekly Advertiser Horsham - - Sport - BY SARAH SCULLY

Hor­sham Hor­nets men’s and women’s teams will look to bring months of work to fruition on Satur­day night when they vie for grand fi­nal glory on their home court.

The Lady Hor­nets will be out to claim backto-back Coun­try Bas­ket­ball League south-west con­fer­ence ti­tles, while the men will at­tempt to stop Mt Gam­bier reach­ing the same feat.

The Hor­sham men se­cured a grand fi­nal berth with a com­fort­able 25-point win over Terang Tor­na­does in a semi-fi­nal show­down on Satur­day, also at Hor­sham Bas­ket­ball Sta­dium.

Hor­nets coach Cam Bruce was pleased with his team’s per­for­mance.

“It was our best game play­ing as a team for the sea­son and we’re re­ally pos­i­tive go­ing into this week’s fi­nal,” he said.

“We put a lot of pres­sure on them and forced a lot of turnovers. The way we played de­fen­sively set up our of­fence. Our aim is to back it up and play the same way.”

Mt Gam­bier has been the team to beat, fin­ish­ing the reg­u­lar sea­son in top spot with 14 wins and two losses. The Hor­nets fin­ished sec­ond with 12 wins and four losses but are yet to beat the Lak­ers this sea­son de­spite two close en­coun­ters.

Bruce said he hoped cap­i­tal­is­ing on Mt Gam­bier’s mis­takes would al­low the Hor­nets to get their fast-break game go­ing.

To win, they will need to ac­count for the league’s lead­ing point-scorer, Kane De Wit, who con­trib­uted an im­pres­sive 37 points in the Lak­ers’ com­pre­hen­sive 30-point semi-fi­nal win over Co­rio Bay.

“He’s lead­ing the scor­ing for all three con­fer­ences in the league, so we’ll need to shut him down,” Bruce said. “They’re sim­i­lar to us in that their start­ing five are all ex­pe­ri­enced and ca­pa­ble of putting up some big num­bers.

“Un­like Terang, which is new to fi­nals and might have been rat­tled a bit by the crowd, Mt Gam­bier is ex­pe­ri­enced in fi­nals. They won’t let the crowd af­fect them. It will be up to us to bring the in­ten­sity and force them to make mis­takes.”

Bruce said he would look for an­other team ef­fort against the Lak­ers.

“Ev­ery­one played re­ally well against Terang. Tim Pick­ert was out­stand­ing – he shot re­ally well – but all the play­ers stepped up. I was rapt,” he said.

Pick­ert shot 25 points, in­clud­ing five three­p­oint­ers, in the semi-fi­nal, with Matt Lovel, 13, Damien Skur­rie, 12, and Brett Goodgame, 12, also solid con­trib­u­tors.

Mt Gam­bier will be de­ter­mined to win con­sec­u­tive ti­tles, but the Hor­nets – who last played in a grand fi­nal in 2015, los­ing to Co­lac by 16 points – will not want to let an­other op­por­tu­nity slip.

Women

The Lady Hor­nets snared a grand fi­nal berth with a thrilling win over Mt Gam­bier at Mt Gam­bier on Satur­day night.

Hor­sham coach Gareth His­cock said he was re­lieved to se­cure a win af­ter such a close match.

“It was the game of the sea­son as far as stan­dard goes,” he said. His­cock said his team’s game plan paid off. “They had three main scor­ers and we thought if we could keep two of them quiet it would go a long way to­wards win­ning,” he said. “Our guards were able to keep their guards quiet and score at the same time.”

Laker Brenna Mckay scored a game-high 25 points, but her per­for­mance was not enough to top the Hor­nets, who claimed the bet­ter spread of scor­ers. Com­pe­ti­tion stand­out So­phie Alexan­der dropped 14 points, with Ema Ire­dell, 13, and Caitlin Story, 12, also reach­ing dou­ble fig­ures.

The Lady Hor­nets will adopt a sim­i­lar ap­proach for the grand fi­nal.

“Co­rio Bay also has two high-scor­ing guards, the Tatlock sis­ters, and we’ll have to see how the His­cock sis­ters match up on them,” His­cock said.

“They also have a very ex­pe­ri­enced cen­tre player in Jess Mcdon­ald we’ll need to nul­lify.

“If we can curb the in­flu­ence of two of those three play­ers, we will win.”

Tahli Tatlock, 19 points, and her sis­ter Tea­gan, 18, were key per­form­ers in Co­rio Bay’s up­set four-point win over lad­der leader Mil­li­cent.

His­cock said the St­ingrays and Hor­nets – who have met twice this sea­son and won a game apiece – had sim­i­lar play­ing styles.

“They have a rea­son­ably fast, free-flow­ing, phys­i­cal style,” he said. “There’s no doubt that at times in the match ei­ther side might be able to get out to a 10-point lead, but it won’t take the other side long to peg back the deficit.

“I’m con­fi­dent we can win, but at the same time, I know it’s go­ing to be an­other one of those games where which­ever side takes ad­van­tage of the lit­tle things will come out on top.”

His­cock said he was pleased to wel­come cap­tain and key tall An­nie Brack back to the team af­ter a stint on the side­lines due to in­jury. “It was great to have An­nie back,” he said. “She came on in short, sharp bursts through­out the game and had an im­pact ev­ery time. Be­cause of her size, the op­po­si­tion has to dou­ble-team her, which opens up op­por­tu­ni­ties for our other play­ers.

“An­nie came on in the last minute and a half and made a piv­otal block, which re­sulted in a steal. Then she went up the other end and scored. We were at a point where we needed some­thing spe­cial to hap­pen and An­nie de­liv­ered it.”

His­cock said he looked for­ward to a huge crowd filling Hor­sham Bas­ket­ball Sta­dium on Satur­day night.

“We have a loyal band of fol­low­ers who come to our games and cheer us on – they cer­tainly helped get us over the line in Mt Gam­bier last week,” he said. “It’s a nice re­ward for them too, to have a home fi­nal.”

The women will take to the court at 6pm, fol­lowed by the men’s grand fi­nal at 8pm.

STAND­OUT: Tim Pick­ert was a key con­trib­u­tor in Hor­sham Hor­nets’ semi-fi­nal win over Terang and will play an­other ma­jor role in this week­end’s grand fi­nal.

Pic­ture: PAUL CAR­RACHER

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