Tigers through to big dance

Michelle Fletcher (Jacob Pattison)363952_01

Harper Sercombe

Kyneton Tigers are through to the Country Basketball League north-west women’s grand final.

The Tigers are set to face the Bendigo Braves on Saturday evening following a dominant display against the Mildura Heat on Saturday night.

The Tigers pounced on the Heat early taking a 13 point lead into the first break.

The Heat began to work its way into the game in the second term cutting the lead to 11. Yet, after the main break the Tigers once again came out firing, putting the lead up to 19 points heading into the last. The Heat attempted to make a comeback but it was too little too late, with the Tigers winning 76-60.

Michelle Fletcher was once again the Tigers top scorer with 25 points.

Tigers’ coach Ash Clark said it was a good night, with experience on the court prevailing.

“It was really good,” he said. “I suppose it’s vindication for all of the hard work that they’ve done, it’s a good reward for the work they’ve done not just this season but it’s been building over a fair few seasons for these girls.

“We felt if we had an edge we’d have an edge on a young Mildura in the experience that the girls have.

“That’s how it eventuated, it seemed to me the composure and experience of our girls helped us.”

Clark said the strong start to the match was important to not only get ahead of the game but ease some early nerves.

“Certainly from a coach’s point of view it relaxes you a little bit more on the bench,” he said.

“The girls had a hard game last week against Bendigo and it taught them a few lessons and brought them back to earth.

“It brought us back to the type of basketball that we were playing earlier in the season where we were really hard to score against, so that was good.”

The Braves have been a clear stand out in the competition for the last few years, having won the championship two of the last three seasons, including the last one, and were runners up in the other year.

One of those premierships came against the Tigers in early 2021, the only other time the Tigers have made the grand final.

With the Tigers going down to the Braves in the last match of the regular season, 98-75 the grand final is set up to be a classic. When the best offensive team in the Braves takes on the minor premiers.

“All season we’ve rated them as the best team in the competition,” Clark said.

“They’ve just never had their full team together enough to really prove it, but we rated them as the best team for sure, the team to beat.

“The girls are really looking forward to the challenge because if you want to be the best you’ve got to beat the best.”

The two sides will fight it out at Cobblebank Stadium at 5.15pm on Saturday night, followed by the Heat and the Braves playing off in the men’s competition.