Hornets to build on momentum
Horsham Lady Hornets can entrench themselves in the Country Basketball League south-west conference top four on Saturday as they look to build on the momentum of a hard-fought win at the weekend.
The Lady Hornets will host Terang Tornadoes at Horsham Basketball Stadium at 6pm after gutting out a tough 69-63 win on the road against Millicent Magic on Sunday.
Horsham built a 13-point three-quarter-time lead behind stellar team defence and withstood a late fight-back from the Magic to seal the victory.
It was an all-around scoring performance from the Lady Hornets, with four players netting double figures.
Leading scorer Ema Iredell fouled out in the last quarter, but Caitlin Story, Shannon Reinheimer and Faith Mckenzie stepped up in the final minutes to keep the scoreboard ticking over.
However, it was on the defensive end of the court where Horsham shone.
Coach Damien Kilpatrick said the team had done its homework on Millicent and knew the Magic had a dearth of outside shooters.
The Lady Hornets packed the paint and forced their opponents into long jump shots.
It worked to great effect, with the Magic’s Olivia Fuller – who had scored at least 18 points in each of her games this season – held to just four for the afternoon. Her team-mate Emily Winter put up a game-high 24 points but was made to work for every basket.
“Of their two big guns, one only scored four and the other had 24 but funnily enough I don’t think she had a big influence,” Kilpatrick said.
“We focused on shutting down their two best players and forced them to shoot outside, because they had only made seven three-pointers all season.
“The girls did a great job and they were pretty tired at the end because it was a pretty physical, athletic game.”
Kilpatrick praised the ability of his squad to secure defensive rebounds, not allowing Millicent many second chance points.
He said the Lady Hornets would prepare for another tough match against Terang at the weekend.
The Tornadoes are near the bottom of the ladder with only one win from their four matches, but Kilpatrick said Horsham needed to maintain its focus.
“We have no idea what to expect, because previous results don’t always mean a lot,” he said.
“Jess Cannane is away this week, but it gives opportunities for the next players in line to have a crack.
“We go into every game with a point to prove, and this week will be no different.”
Ararat Redbacks face a challenge to stay in the finals race as they prepare for a home double-header against Colac Kookas and Portland Coasters at the weekend.
The Redbacks were competitive in patches but ultimately unsuccessful in round four, as they lost 114-72 against Bacchus Marsh Lions on Saturday and 96-81 to Bellarine Storm on Sunday.
Bacchus Marsh sunk Ararat with a barrage of three-pointers, with Lion Max Beaumont netting eight triples on his way to a season-high 42 points.
The Redbacks fared better against Bellarine but could not overcome a 15-point quarter-time deficit.
A stellar defensive effort in the second quarter saw the visitors hold the Storm to seven points and draw within five at the long break, but Bellarine re-established a buffer through the hot shooting of Nathan Friend and Jack Burnett in the second half.
DJ Woods led the way for Ararat in both games, scoring 22 and 25 respectively.
Ararat will now face two struggling opponents, with Colac and Portland each having won only one game for the season.
Two wins would put the Redbacks back in the finals hunt at 3-3, but two losses would see them drop dangerously close to the bottom of the ladder.
Horsham Hornets will play one match in their return from a bye, hosting the winless Hamilton Hurricanes at Horsham Basketball Stadium on Saturday at 8pm.
The Hornets will enter the game as favourites and could finish the round in second place on the ladder with a win.