Hornets prepare for unknown
Horsham Hornets will venture into the unknown at the weekend with a double-header against Country Basketball League newcomers Bacchus Marsh Lions and Wimmera rivals Ararat Redbacks.
The Hornets will play Bacchus Marsh at Horsham Basketball Stadium at 8pm on Saturday before travelling to face the Redbacks at 1pm in Ararat on Sunday.
Horsham has never faced either team, having played last season in the CBL’S north-west conference, while Ararat debuted in the south-west conference.
The Hornets re-joined the south-west conference this season after claiming last season’s north-west conference title and made an immediate impact with an 80-54 win against Portland at Horsham on Saturday.
Playing coach Cam Bruce said he was keen to take to the court for the first time after missing out at the weekend.
Bruce said Horsham was eager to face two new opponents, but admitted the team did not know exactly what to expect.
“With Bacchus Marsh it will be a bit of wait and see,” he said.
“We know a few of their players from Big V competition where a few of them played for Melton and Sunbury.
“It looks like they have a pretty young team, but they have a lot of recruiting power and I think they’ll be one of the teams to watch this season.”
Bruce also has a personal connection with the Lions, having played under Bacchus Marsh co-coach Shannon Peterson at Sunbury.
He said he expected an equally tough test from Ararat after the Redbacks made the finals in their debut CBL season.
“They’re our local rivals in a way, so we hope we can have a tough, competitive game with them,” he said.
“If we can create and build that rivalry with competitive matches, then it creates a lot of interest and it’s good for basketball in the area.”
The Hornets benefitted from an even scoring spread against Portland, with four players reaching double figures.
Jeremiah Mckenzie led all scorers with 21 points, while big man Damien Skurrie added 15.
Guard Tim Pickert scored 14 points and connected on three, three-point attempts.
Bruce said the Hornets would require multiple contributors again if they hoped to have two successful outings at the weekend.
“One of our strengths is that we have a couple of players who are handy scorers, but we do have plenty of others who can also pitch in,” he said.
“It would be handy if we could get that sort of contribution from everyone again, but it might be a big ask against the opposition we’re playing.”
Jake Hobbs will miss again with a hamstring injury, while Bruce is the only inclusion to the side.
Horsham Lady Hornets are also gearing up for a double-header, with a 6pm home game against Colac Kookas on Saturday before travelling to the coast to take on the Bellarine Storm at 1pm on Sunday.
The Lady Hornets are coming off a narrow loss to Portland at the weekend, going down 56-50 at home.
The team was hurt by the loss of experienced campaigners Jess Cannane, Shannon Reinheimer and Liv Jones, but coach Damien Kilpatrick said Cannane and Reinheimer were likely to return to the line-up on Saturday.
“They’ll make a big difference to our rotations,” he said.
“We’re still a work in progress so it will be good to have some more experience back in the team.”
Kilpatrick said the team’s relative inexperience was compounded by this season’s move back to the CBL southwest conference, which he described as more competitive than the northwest conference. “Colac was very competitive in its two games against good opponents and Bellarine had a win and then a big loss to a very good team in Millicent,” Kilpatrick said.
“Every game this season is going to be tough – this is a much harder conference than last year’s conference.”
Despite the close final score against Portland on Saturday, the Hornets trailed all game and were largely outclassed by the Coasters.
Ema Iredell tried valiantly to lead the Lady Hornets back, scoring nine points in the final two and a half minutes and finishing with a gamehigh 21 points, but a lack of scoring support and lackadaisical defence doomed the home team.
Kilpatrick said there were plenty of areas his team needed to address this weekend.
“It was the first time the girls had played under me, and we’ve only trained three times with the whole team,” he said.
“There were patches where you could see some positives, but we need a lot of improvement.
“Defence is the biggest element want to improve.
“The zone the girls were playing was very sloppy, and I want to be able to play man-on-man defence but some of the girls aren’t ready for that yet.”
TOUGH GOING: Horsham Hornet Ema Iredell and Portland’s Alana Strom dive for the ball during Saturday’s clash, in which Iredell scored a game-high 21 points. Picture: PAUL CARRACHER