Published on Tuesday, 11 July 2017

Bendigo Braves falter in SEABL finals chase


THE Bendigo Braves' hopes of playing SEABL finals are in jeopardy after a shattering overtime loss to the Canberra Gunners on Saturday night.

Not even an extraordinary individual performance from import Dyami Starks could save the Braves from a four point loss.

The American scored a season and game-high 49 points as the Braves fell 107-111.

It was a disastrous weekend all-round for the reigning national champions, with North West Tasmania Thunder gaining a pair of wins to overtake the Braves in fourth place on the south conference ladder.

The Thunder defeated Albury-Wodonga 88-80 in Albury on Friday night and backed-up with an 84-80 win at Kilsyth on Saturday.

Only the top four teams in each conference advance to the finals.

It has thrust the Braves into a pair of must-win games next weekend against Frankston Blues (Friday) and Sandringham Sabres (Saturday).

The Blues defeated the Braves in Bendigo as recently as two weeks ago.

The Braves looked on track for a victory when they outscored the Gunners 27-16 in the third quarter after scores were tied at half time.

But the home side found plenty of momentum to have the game back on level terms at the end of the fourth quarter with a 32-21 final term.

The Gunners were able to hold their nerve in a tense overtime period and registered just their third win from 18 games.

Starks' big game included seven rebounds, four assists and one steal.

He was well supported by fellow import C. J. Aiken with 25 points.

For Canberra, Ben Allen starred with 28 points and 15 rebounds.

Meanwhile, the Bendigo Lady Braves have retained top spot on the ladder, despite a disappointing loss to the Canberra Capitals Academy.

The Lady Braves were made to pay for a pair of sluggish quarters in the middle of the game, eventually losing 59-76.

The visitors held a narrow one point lead at quarter time, but found themselves down by eight points at half time.

Any hopes of a comeback were extinguished when the Capitals outscored the Lady Braves 17-9 in the third quarter.

The loss was only the Lady Braves' fifth this season from 17 games.

Their bid to retain top spot was aided by Hobart Lady Chargers, who defeated second-placed Dandenong Rangers 61-53 on Friday night.

Chloe Bibby was the shining light for the Lady Braves.

The young forward, who will represent the Australian Gems later this month at the FIBA Under-19 World Cup in Italy, was the only Lady Brave to score double figures with 19 points.

The Lady Braves were without star point guard Kelly Wilson for the second straight weekend and also American import Chante Black.

It was a pair of familiar faces which inflicted much of the damage for the Canberra Capitals Academy.

Sarah McAppion, whose short WNBL stint with Bendigo Spirit in 2015-16 was ruined by injury, top scored with 21 points, while former Lady Brave Keely Froling contributed 13 points and had a game-high nine rebounds.

Courtesy of the Bendigo Advertiser and Kieran Iles



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