All Wim­mera teams make fi­nals

The Weekly Advertiser Horsham - - Sport - BY COLIN MACGILLIVR­AY

All three of the Wim­mera’s elite bas­ket­ball teams will fea­ture in post-sea­son ac­tion as Coun­try Bas­ket­ball League’s south-west con­fer­ence fi­nals start.

The con­fer­ence will fea­ture a new fi­nals for­mat in the men’s sec­tion this sea­son.

In­stead of the top four teams play­ing semi-fi­nals, the top eight teams have qual­i­fied.

First-placed Hor­sham Hor­nets will host sev­enth-placed Terang Tor­na­does at Hor­sham Bas­ket­ball Sta­dium on Satur­day night.

Ararat Red­backs scraped into the fi­nals with a five-point win against Hamil­ton Hur­ri­canes on Sun­day and will play third-placed Bel­lar­ine Storm in a road quar­ter-fi­nal on Fri­day night.

Other men’s fi­nals fea­ture fourth­placed Bac­chus Marsh tak­ing on sixth-placed Port­land and sec­ond-placed Mount Gam­bier host­ing fifth-placed Gee­long.

In the women’s com­pe­ti­tion, the top-four fi­nals struc­ture will re­main.

Hor­sham Lady Hor­nets moved up to sec­ond place on the lad­der with two wins at the week­end and are likely to host a fi­nal against Mil­li­cent Magic on Satur­day, Fe­bru­ary 2.

Ararat coach Mar­cus Jenk­ins said his team was ex­cited to qual­ify for a fi­nals berth af­ter down­ing Hamil­ton at the week­end.

He said the tough, phys­i­cal en­counter had left a few play­ers sore, but was good prepa­ra­tion for fi­nals.

“We’ve got noth­ing to lose in the fi­nals,” he said.

“We fin­ished be­low ev­ery other team and were beaten by ev­ery other team dur­ing the sea­son, so they will prob­a­bly be look­ing at us as an easy win.

“We didn’t have Zac Dun­more or Jay­den Wright the last time we played Bel­lar­ine and we are much closer as a team than we were at the start of the sea­son.”

Jenk­ins thanked the peo­ple of Ararat for sup­port­ing the Red­backs through­out the sea­son. He also con­grat­u­lated both Hor­sham teams on their fi­nals berths and said it was good to see all three Wim­mera teams play­ing in fi­nals.

Hor­sham Hor­nets

The Hor­nets will con­tinue their quest for an­other Coun­try Bas­ket­ball League con­fer­ence cham­pi­onship af­ter putting the fin­ish­ing touches on a mi­nor premiershi­p at the week­end.

The Hor­nets dis­patched Co­lac Kookas and War­rnam­bool Sea­hawks with ease to seal top spot on the lad­der.

The team had a bal­anced scor­ing at­tack against Co­lac on Satur­day night, with Tim Pick­ert, Jeremiah Mcken­zie, Mitch Martin and Matty Lloyd all net­ting dou­ble fig­ures on the way to an 86-59 win.

The score was even more lop­sided on Sun­day as for­ward Ben Lakin pro­duced his best scor­ing game for the sea­son with 21 points.

Mcken­zie, Pick­ert and Martin also scored dou­ble fig­ures, while Jor­dyn Burke was solid with nine points.

The Hor­nets will start hot favourites against the Tor­na­does, who they beat by 18 points on the road in their only meet­ing this sea­son.

The solid late-sea­son form of Martin and Lloyd gives Hor­sham an added di­men­sion in the fi­nals.

The young­sters have aug­mented an of­fence that re­lied heav­ily on Mcken­zie and vet­er­ans Pick­ert and Matt Lovel at the start of the sea­son.

Lady Hor­nets

Hor­sham Lady Hor­nets will have a week off to pre­pare for their fi­nals cam­paign af­ter two im­por­tant wins at the week­end.

The team pro­duced a stir­ring come-from-be­hind win against Co­lac on Satur­day night.

Trail­ing by two points with just over five min­utes re­main­ing in the game, the Lady Hor­nets went on a 12-3 run to win 64-57.

Ema Ire­dell led the team in scor­ing with 21 points and made some key bas­kets in the fi­nal min­utes, while Faith Mcken­zie, 18 points, and Mad­die Ire­dell, eight, both played im­por­tant roles.

Coun­try Bas­ket­ball League is yet to fi­nalise the women’s fi­nals draws, but ac­cord­ing to its 2018-19 op­er­a­tions man­ual, the sec­ond-placed Lady Hor­nets should host third­placed Mil­li­cent Magic on Fe­bru­ary 2, with the win­ner ad­vanc­ing to the grand fi­nal.

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