Geelong Supercats comeback to take SEABL championship

GIVING up wasn’t on the cards for Geelong Supercats as they mounted a monumental comeback in the SEABL women’s grand final against Bendigo, taking a 76-67 triumph.

Coming from behind, Geelong put on 50-27 after half-time to put the sword to Bendigo and quash an almighty effort in the all-country final at Kilsyth Sports Centre.

The chips had been down early and the odds weren’t getting better for Geelong. Squaring off against the tall timber of Bendigo, the clash leaned one way only entering the half.

Bendigo had control of the scoreboard and weren’t stopping as Chante Black (15 points, nine rebounds), Ashley Rininger (12 points, eight rebounds), Carlie Smith (11 points, nine rebounds) and Kelly Wilson (12 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists) took control to push a 40-26 half-time margin.

But there was plenty of fight left in a resilient Geelong group.

They were without Chantel Horvat (college) and Alexandra Bunton (knee) – two almighty presences that had helped immensely in guiding their journey towards the championship game.

But those who stood up to take their places shone as coach David Herbert found ways to make it work without them.

He leaned on the almighty Sara Blicavs (23 points, 13 rebounds) and Ebony Rolph (14 points, seven rebounds). They didn’t sit and didn’t quit as the Supercats’ fortunes rested on their experienced shoulders.

Blicavs had to toil against the Braves’ high-rise offence – doing what she could against Black and Rininger. She held up her end of the bargain with a half-time double-double and kept on powering ahead from there without any delay.

Ellen Kett

Ellen Kett was named Barbara Barton Medallist as SEABL grand final MVP. Picture: BASKETBALL VICTORIA COUNTRY

The Barbara Barton Medallist stepped up after the main break to deliver a virtuoso performance. Ellen Kett (17 points, six rebounds) found her range and started putting the pain back on the Braves.

That 14-point gap at the break evaporated in an instant as Kett delivered four long-range threes to stall the Bendigo effort.

It would remain even throughout the dying stages before one last push from Geelong gave them ascendency and their first SEABL women’s championship banner.

Blicavs said it was a game of two halves as the young Supercats let go of their early nerves to play for each other and create history.

“We were nervous to begin with – we’re an inexperienced team and we’re young – so at half time we got all the nerves out the way and we love coming down from behind,” Blicavs said. “The thing with our team is we don’t get angry with each other – we’re full of compliments and helpful hints and we said ‘girls if we stop the offensive boards, keep running and hard and don’t be scared, we’ll get it’.

“That’s been our attitude this whole year – that we can be completely down, every time we’re down at half-time we keep firing back.

“That just shows the passion of our team and I guess the want and desire.

“We do it for each other and we do it for Herby and it really shows on court – we had each other’s backs on court and it was just such a fun game to play.”

To bring a piece of SEABL history home to Geelong, with a group she’s amazingly proud to be part of… there are few words that can describe it.

“I’m so stoked right now – I’m literally on the verge of crying I’m so happy,” Blicavs said. “It’s very rare you find teams like these and I’m really happy to be part of a winning one and to bring the first ever women’s grand final flag back to Geelong and stick it up in the arena… there’s no better feeling.”

It capped off an extraordinary SEABL season for the country teams with both Conference titles and the SEABL Championship heading out to regional Victoria in 2017.

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