12 teams took to the court across Victoria last night – six left as 2019/20 Country Basketball League champions.
NORTH WEST MEN
Maryborough Blazers 79 def. Bendigo Braves 61
It was the match that had fans blaring in the stands and players sweating for more than just the weather. Everything was at stake for the Braves and Blazers, and the level of basketball played illustrated this.
Braves came out in full force to open the match with a three-point goal. However, it was Blazers who led the way in the first quarter to take a four-point lead. Braves responded with a dominant second quarter to bring the playing field level, 40 all, heading into the final half.
Braves’ Tanner Rayner (19 points), Jack White (17 points) and Jake Lloyd (20 points) kept their team in with a fighting chance. A tough physical contest had been brewing the entire match and with Blazers taking the lead again tensions intensified. In the final quarter, three players from each side were fouled off. Blazers appeared to have gotten inside the Braves heads and ultimately proved dominant on court to claim the title.
Harrison Butler (11 points) was sublime alongside Lachlan Drummond (12 points) for Blazers, but it was Brady Niell (33 points) who stole the show with four three-pointers and Grand Final MVP.
GRAND FINAL MVP – Brady Neil (Maryborough Blazers)
NORTH WEST WOMEN
Bendigo Braves 82 def. Maryborough Blazers 60
Bendigo Braves fought their way to the top last night to finish their season with a decisive 22-points victory against Maryborough Blazers.
As gallant as their name would suggest, Braves stormed Blazers in the second half to take home gold. From tight early in the match, Braves surged ahead as Madeline Sexton (30 points) paved the way for her team.
Hayley Harrington (16 points) and Tahnee Cannan (11 points) followed close behind to hit some monster shots and push Braves ahead. After just missing out in the grand final last year, Bendigo’s win was made even sweeter.
For the Blazers, the best was brought by Keisha Tonzing (17 points) and Millie Cracknell (17 points). Blazers didn’t walk away with the win, but it was still a special night for the Maryborough bunch with this final being the first women’s group to play finals in association history.
GRAND FINAL MVP – Madi Sexton (Bendigo Braves)
NORTH EAST MEN
Wallan Panthers 77 def. Seymour Blasters 65
In the most heroic comeback of the night, Wallan Panthers came from trailing behind in the first three quarter to see gold with a 13-point triumph.
Blasters took command of the match from the get-go. Their defence was unbreakable and Tyler Best’s force saw him score an impressive 10 points in the first quarter. Maintaining a comfortable lead and controlling the match play, Seymour secured a buzzer beater at the end of the third quarter to hold the lead by four points. Best (21 points) and Jack Murphy (15 points) proved potent for Blasters in league with Robbie Sartori (13 points).
Heading into the fourth quarter it looked as though Seymour had the win, that is until the true intensity from Panthers came into play. The ferocity of the match hit its peak, with Wallan trying to secure every point they could to make up the difference and Seymour trying to hold the lead they had worked to attain.
In the end, it was Panthers who were consistent in their play to turn the tables on Seymour and finish the season on top. Luke Liesengang (23 points) was iconic in his efforts to take back the lead for his team, and in his actions resulted MVP.
GRAND FINAL MVP – Luke Liesegang (Wallan Panthers)
NORTH EAST WOMEN
Wodonga Wolves 85 def. Seymour Blaster 58
Wodonga were able to maintain a confident lead against Seymour all game and took out the North East Women’s title with exhilaration.
The final 85-58 score came as a result of the dynamic movement Wolves executed across the court. Mel Kirby (22 points), Caitlin Reid (16 points) and Charlotte Beavan (15 points) shared majority of the load to keep Braves on track to take home the gold. However, it was clear Wodonga took victory as a result of their team spirit and ability to communicate as one distinct unit.
Wodonga’s Mel Kirby took home the award for most valuable player in the grand final recoding game high points, while Seymour’s Tayha Watkins top scored for the Panthers with 15 points.
GRAND FINAL MVP – Mel Kirby (Wodonga Wolves)
SOUTH WEST MEN
Mt Gambier Lakers 89 def. Geelong United 78
Mt Gambier Lakers blasted past Geelong United in an 89-78 grand final triumph. With persistent offensive pressure as well as defensive pressure, Lakers had a field day and the Mt Gambier line-up proved mighty enough to defeat United.
Kyle Tipene (24 points) whipped out some big shots while Simon Berkefeld (30 points) set the benchmark, leading the way for the Lakers. Max Kos (26 points), Marko Vekic (17 points) and Cohen Blythe (13 points) led the way for United as the side played strong until the very last buzzer.
GRAND FINAL MVP – Simon Berkefeld (Mt Gambier Lakers)
SOUTH WEST WOMEN
Millicent Magic 78 def. Warrnambool Mermaids 62
Taking their conquests to Portland, Millicent showed up the Mermaids in a showdown spelling success for Magic. The final 78-62 score came as a result of the dynamic movement Magic executed across the court. Their pressure and playmaking saw them the top side of the night.
This triumph marks a back-to-back title win for the Magic.
The victory was on the back of some incredible shooting by Magic’s tandem Emily Winter (31 points) and Madi Haggett (22 points). The Mermaids were led by Katie O’Keefe (13 points) with Nicole Gynes (12 points) and Louise Brown (11 points) contributing their efforts.
GRAND FINAL MVP – Emily Winter (Millicent Magic)