As many SEABL people will know, the one thing worse than losing the second game of a weekend double is the drive home.
Frankston Lady Blues coach Steve Matthews had just that sort of frustrating departure from Bendigo on Sunday when his side fell away in the final minutes to lose 65-62 to the Braves.
Fatigue after beating Nunawading on Saturday night was a factor as was being without Opals squad member Maddie Garrick who scored 17 points against the Spectres but was restricted from playing both games due to her upcoming international commitments.
But still, Matthews thought with more poise and better defensive execution his side could have stolen a priceless conference win in Bendigo.
“We really hit the wall at the end,” Matthews said.
“Bendigo’s guards were great at the end as well but a lot goes through your mind on the drive home.”
The Lady Blues are 4-8 on the season but are within reach of the Braves who sit in fourth place in the South Conference.
This season has not been all that kind to Frankston so far with last season’s most valuable player, Garrick, winning a surprise but fitting call up to the Opals’ European tour.
She has played just five of the Lady Blues’ 12 games while the side has taken longer to mesh together with point guard Kate Gaze learning how to work with her new side and Kelly Bowen and others adjusting to needing to be more of a factor on offence.
The Lady Blues don’t have an import and instead opted for signing “WNBL fringe players” like Gaze and Bowen while bringing back Garrick.
“I don’t think Maddie was expecting an Opals call up this soon but she deserves it and you have to deal with that,” Matthew said.
Gaze, who come off the bench in Townsville Fire’s WNBL championship this past season, has come into her own in the past four games and made five three-pointers in her 22 points against the Braves on Sunday.
“When Kate shoots like that it helps open up the floor,” Matthews said.
“Kate had to get her head around this level when she first got here, there is a lot of talent in SEABL. I mean, the Braves’ guards of Kelly Wilson and Tessa Lavey will probably be playing in the Oceania series for the Opals.
“But her last four games have been excellent and she is really starting to know how her teammates play which is crucial for a point guard.”
Bowen has been a rock for her home town side taking over as the main defensive stopper in Garrick’s absence and also looking for her own baskets.
Bowen had 18 points and 14 rebounds on Saturday night and then backed it up with 17 points and 20 rebounds on Sunday. Her work down low with veteran centre Emily Fryters has impressed Matthews.
“Fryters is belying her age and was exceptional again,” Matthew said.
“She guarded Kate Oliver really well and as a team we kept a talented Nunawading side to 62 points.
“Bowen has had a brilliant year and both her numbers and her defence shows that it’s a shame no one has picked her up for WNBL yet.
“You would think a Perth or Adelaide could use a kid who averages 22 points and 10 rebounds in SEABL.
“Kelly has a great build and is a top athlete and she can guard all kinds of players- we had her on Kelly Wilson on Sunday and she did a good job.”
With the Lady Blues facing life without Garrick for at least their next three games and possibly more matches in August, Matthews said his core group still had the capacity to make the playoffs.
“We have a hard four weeks ahead and we need to make sure we are 2-2 or 3-1,” Matthews said.
“But it’s a long season and we are still only a game or two behind Bendigo.
“I’m not writing off finals, other teams have a break on us but we can still make an impact.”
*Hobart’s Izzy Chilcott showed why she has a WNBL contract with Perth next season scoring 35 points, grabbing six rebounds and passing out seven assists in the Chargers’ win over Albury-Wodonga. The Bandits imports Katrina Baltic (15 points, 18 rebounds) and Alison Bouman (23 points, 15 rebounds) both performed for the visitors.
*Canberra Capitals Academy had all five starters score in double figures in their overtime win over Kilsyth with import Julie Forster scoring 21 points and grabbing 23 rebounds in 45 minutes.
*Frankston forward Kelly Bowen had a big weekend with 18 points, 14 rebounds against Nunawading then 13 points and 20 rebounds against Bendigo.
*Geelong star Sara Blicavs had another big outing with 30 points and 18 rebounds in her club’s close win over BA Centre of Excellence.
*Launceston guard Ally Wilson took charge against Albury-Wodonga with 30 points and six rebounds on a scorching 13-18 shooting.
*Ballarat’s Abbie Wehrung had a strong weekend for her undermanned Rush with 23 points and eight rebounds on Saturday night then 20 points against BA COE on Sunday.
*Bendigo star Kelly Wilson scored 25 points against Frankston on Sunday and made some key plays in the second half as her Braves’ took a key win.
SEABL media links
*Hobart Mercury’s Simeon Thomas-Wilson reports on Hobart’s hopes of a home final. Report: http://www.themercury.com.au/sport/local-sport/lady-chargers-thrive-while-living-on-edge/story-fnj92b0f-1227406755035
*Bendigo Advertiser’s Nathan Dole reports on the Braves’ win over Frankston and includes a great photo gallery from the game. Story, pictures:
*The Examiner’s Michelle Wisbey reports on Launceston’s win over Albury-Wodonga. Story: http://www.examiner.com.au/story/3160169/tornadoes-rip-through-another-team/?cs=96
*The Examiner’s Scott Gelston also filed a picture gallery from the match. Gallery: http://www.examiner.com.au/story/3160103/tornadoes-v-albury-wodonga-photos/?cs=2596#slide=2
*The Border Mail’s Steve Smith reports on the positives from Albury-Wodonga’s tough weekend on the road. Story: http://www.bordermail.com.au/story/3161537/mission-accomplished-for-brookens-despite-two-losses/?cs=10
*Ballarat Courier’s Melanie Whelan (@melanie_whelan) reports on a controversial ending to Ballarat’s clash with BA COE. Report: http://www.thecourier.com.au/story/3160593/rush-lose-in-controversial-finish/?cs=63
*Geelong Advertiser’s Wes Cusworth (@WesCusworth) reports on Sara Blicavs’ big night in Geelong’s win over BA COE. Report: http://www.geelongadvertiser.com.au/sport/local-sport/lady-supercats-blicavs-blitz-lifts-home-team/story-fnjuhs0b-1227408549236
*Dandenong Journal’s Jarrod Potter (@JarrodPotter) reports on the Rangers’ players in the World University Games team. Report: http://dandenong.starcommunity.com.au/journal/2015-06-22/a-colour-fast-selection/
*Leader Newspaper’s Megan Hustwaite (@MeganHustwaite) reports Rod Popp will retire from his director of operations role at Kilsyth at the end of the year but continue to coach at SEABL level. Report: http://www.heraldsun.com.au/leader/sport/rod-popp-to-retire-after-10-successful-years-as-kilsyth-basketball-director-of-operations/story-fnglemo4-1227403850962
*WNBL club Perth Lynx announced they have signed Tessa Lavey for next WNBL season. Release: http://perthlynx.com/Media/News/perth-lynx-sign-australian-opal-tessa-lavey
Roy Ward (@rpjward) is a freelance sports writer who has covered the NBA, NBL, WNBL, SEABL and Big V during his career. He will be filing weekly columns on the SEABL men’s and women’s competitions during this season. For feedback or suggestions send Roy a tweet or email him firstname.lastname@example.org