Tag: bendigo braves

Hat-trick Hawks as Blues lose

THE Ringwood Hawks have done what no one else could this season, knocking off the undefeated Frankston Blues in one of three victories for the club in Round 11.

Having already defeated the Melbourne Tigers 71-56 on Wednesday night, and claiming an 18-point victory on Friday night against the Kilsyth Cobras, the Hawks were back in action again on Saturday claiming a massive scalp on the road at the Frankston Basketball Stadium.

After an entertaining first half it was the home team who led at the main break on the back of a brilliant first two quarters from Darcee Garbin who scored 19 points, half of her team’s total, as they led 38-37 with an intriguing second half to come.

The Hawks were brilliant as they managed to overrun the Blues in the second half to claim an 11-point victory. It was a great team performance as Funda Nakkasoglu (11 points), Danni Bone (11 points), Toni Farnworth(10 points), and Marena Whittle (21 points) all scored in double figures for the match. The defence of the Hawks was also a key factor as Ringwood held Frankston to just 24 second half points.

For the Hawks, Whittle completed her 21-point game with 12 rebounds and Bone had four offensive rebounds (five rebounds total) to go along with her 11 points. Meanwhile, Garbin (23 points, 14 rebounds) and Taylah Giliam (21 points, 4/7 three pointers made) were the stars for the Blues.

The defeat of the 10-0 Blues, and the two other wins against the Tigers and the Cobras keeps the Hawks’ hopes of making NBL 1 finals alive.

Meanwhile, Knox had two wins over the weekend including a victory over fellow finals contender Eltham. Knox defeated the Wildcats 75-53, the day after an eight-point victory over the Falcons.

Klara Wischer had a great game scoring 15 points, 13 rebounds, and four steals. Teammates Rebecca Ott (16 points, 4/6 three pointers made), Lucy Dawson (13 points, nine rebounds), Leah Santomaggio (12 points, four three pointers made) also performed, while Rebecca Pizzey (12 points, 10 rebounds, 5/8 field goals made) was again a solid contributor for Eltham.

Elsewhere, Launceston and Bendigo took advantage of the Blues’ defeat, narrowing the gap at the top of the ladder.

The Tornadoes had a close win against the Supercats, with Kelsey Griffin (26 points, 12 rebounds, eight assists, four steals) falling just shy of a big triple double in the 73-70 victory.

The Braves had a crushing 31-point win against the Bandits. Abigail Wehrung (27 points, seven rebounds, five assists) and Kate Oliver (24 points, six rebounds, four assists) were huge for the Braves, and Kelly Wilson (nine points, nine rebounds, nine assists) also came close to completing a triple double.

Rachel Antoniadou (22 points, five assists) and Izzy Wright (21 points, six rebounds, five assists) were both important in Nunawading’s 92-66 win against Mt Gambier.

While Sara Bilcavs had 34 points and eight rebounds in Geelong’s first game of the round, a 29-point win over the Hobart Chargers.

Full Round 11 results:

Ringwood Hawks 71 def Melbourne Tigers 56
Hobart Chargers 69 def by Geelong Supercats 98
Bendigo Braves 105 def Albury-Wodonga Bandits 74
Ringwood Hawks 72 def Kilsyth Cobras 54
Knox Basketball 73 def Waverley Falcons 65
Frankston Blues 62 def by Ringwood Hawks 73
Ballarat Rush 72 def by Nunawading Spectres 95
Kilsyth Cobras 90 def Mt Gambier Pioneers 60
Dandenong Rangers 67 def by Albury-Wodonga Bandits 75
Launceston Tornadoes 73 def Geelong Supercats 70
Eltham Wildcats 53 def by Knox Basketball 75
Waverley Falcons 70 def by Frankston Blues 78
Diamond Valley Eagles 85 def Ballarat Rush 78
Nunawading Spectres 92 def Mt Gambier Pioneers 66
Sandringham Sabres 49 def by Melbourne Tigers 100

Photo credit: Ian Knight Photography

2021 NBL1 South preview: Round 4

IT is already up to Round 4 in the National Basketball League (NBL)1 South competition, and our matches of the round this week feature the 3-1 Bendigo Braves and Melbourne Tigers in the women’s, whilst in the men’s, the undefeated Knox Raiders (3-0) lock horns with the Ringwood Hawks (2-1).


In our NBL1 South women’s match of the round, two sides with 3-1 records go head-to-head in Bendigo Braves and Melbourne Tigers. The Tigers also go on to play the winless Mt Gambier Pioneers on Sunday at home, but first have to make the trek up to Bendigo on Saturday. Both these teams come in with some great form, but it is hard to look past the Tigers who completely dismantled Albury-Wodonga Bandits (48 points) and Diamond Valley Eagles (45), then took care of the Hobart Chargers (22). The big question mark is the fact the Tigers have not beaten a side that has won a game yet, with all three teams having been winless to start the season.

They went and lost to Sandringham Sabres in Round 1 before the Tigers had hit their groove, with the Sabres having now lost their past two games to sit 2-2 heading into Round 4. On the other hand, the Braves have been ultra impressive, winning by 28 points against Dandenong Rangers last week, after overcoming Ballarat Rush in an overtime thriller the day before. Their only loss came in Round 2 with a spirited six-point defeat at the hands of the top of the table Frankston Blues, which was the exact margin the Braves came away with in victory against the Mr Gambier Pioneers in Round 1. On paper, the Tigers form looks better, but in theory, the Braves have played the tougher opponents which makes this set for a ripping showdown.

Looking at the Braves’ side, Tess Madgen has had a brilliant start to the season, with the WNBL star putting up 22.5 points, 8.5 rebounds and 7.3 assists, as well as averaging more than a steal per game. After threatening with triple-doubles three consecutive weeks heading into this clash, it would be quite the feat if she could achieve it, especially coming off a blistering competition season-high 43 points (and nine rebounds, nine assists) against the Rangers last week. She has had at least nine rebounds the past three weeks and at least eight assists, showing just how damaging she can be across all facets of the court.

Across the court, Abigail Wehrung is an experienced talent, averaging the 15.5 points, 4.0 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game, while Cassidy McLean (6.5 points, 6.5 rebounds) and Piper Dunlop (7.5 points, 5.3 rebounds) are young guns on the rise in Australian basketball. The crucial cog in the team is center, Kate Oliver who has almost averaged a double-double across four games this season, putting up 16.8 points and 9.0 rebounds. In her last game she actually achieved the feat with a whopping 14 rebounds to go with 18 points.

Oliver will need to be at that level when she takes on rising WNBL star, Zitina Aokuso who has been lighting up the NBL1 with 15.3 points, 9.0 rebounds and 4.5 assists per game. The Townsville Fire talent has been managed to start the season, and since clocking up more than 30 points the past two weeks, has had a double-double (10 points, 13 rebounds) and then triple double (19 points, 12 assists and 10 rebounds). She has provided a big-small threat with dual sport start Monique Conti who has been in blistering shooting form, racking up 24.5 points, 5.5 rebounds and 5.3 assists per game.

After a quiet Round 1 game – indicative of the overall team performance against the Sabres, Conti has put up 28, 23 and 40 points in her past three games, as well as six, seven and seven assists, whilst also averaging a massive four steals per game, 11 coming in her past two games. Isabella Brancatisano has benefited from Aokuso and Conti being the focal points having moved up from the Supercats this season to put up 19.3 points, 6.5 rebounds and 4.5 assists, also racking up seven steals against the Bandits for an average of two per game this year. Gemma Simon (9.5 points), Geraldine McCorkell (8.5 points, 4.8 rebounds) and Charlotte Brancatisano (3.3 points, 2.8 rebounds and 3.8 assists) are among other Tigers doing well this season.

The other massive clash not to be missed will be the Launceston Tornadoes (3-1) up against the Eltham Wildcats (3-0). With the Wildcats having an earlier fixture against the winless Hobart Chargers, it is likely they will head into the clash with four straight wins and hungry to claim one on the road against the Tornadoes. The other non-Victorian side in the Mt Gambier Pioneers will travel to Dandenong Rangers and the Tigers home courts over the weekend, while Albury-Wodonga Bandits host Kilsyth Cobras (2-1) in a bid to get the Bandits’ first win of the season;.

Elsewhere, the undefeated Frankston Blues head up to Ballarat to face the 2-2 Rush, Diamond Valley Eagles will look to get on the board when they travel to the out-of-form Sandringham Sabres, and the undefeated Knox Raiders will head to meet Ringwood Hawks (1-2). Two sides with 1-2 records in Geelong Supercats and Nunawading Spectres will lock horns, with the Supercats having a second fixture – this one on the road – against Waverley Falcons on Sunday, while the Spectres also have a second fixture up against the Rangers on Sunday.


Hobart Chargers (0-4) vs. Eltham Wildcats (3-0)
Sandringham Sabres (2-2) vs. Diamond Valley Eagles (0-4)
Geelong Supercats (1-2) vs. Nunawading Spectres (1-2)
Ballarat Rush (2-2) vs. Frankston Blues (4-0)
Bendigo Braves (3-1) vs. Melbourne Tigers (3-1)
Dandenong Rangers (1-2) vs. Mt Gambier Pioneers (0-3)
Launceston Tornadoes (3-1) vs. Eltham Wildcats (3-0)
Albury-Wodonga Bandits (0-4) vs. Kilsyth Cobras (2-1)
Ringwood Hawks (1-2) vs. Knox Raiders (3-0)
Waverley Falcons (2-2) vs. Geelong Supercats (1-2)
Melbourne Tigers (3-1) vs. Mt Gambier Pioneers (0-3)
Nunawading Spectres (1-2) vs. Dandenong Rangers (1-2)


In the men’s competition, the undefeated Knox Raiders travel to The Rings in order to try and extend their record to four games up against the Ringwood Hawks (2-1). In their last start, Knox Raiders destroyed Albury-Wodonga Bandits by 73 points in the largest winning margin of the season. Prior to that, the Raiders picked up wins over Kilsyth Cobras (2-1) by 12 points and Geelong Supercats (1-2) by seven points. Both opponents have shown they could win, so the tight victories were still impressive, but the wiping the floor with the Bandits will give them great confidence coming into this match.

The Hawks on the other hand started the season with a forgettable 31-point loss to Eltham Wildcats (3-0), but have since rebounded with wins over Geelong Supercats (1-2) by 29 points and Mt Gambier Pioneers (0-3) by 44 points. The last two weeks have been pretty impressive for the Hawks, and will be really tested against the in-form Raiders, who will be hoping to keep in touch with top of the table Frankston Blues.

Ringwood Hawks have some great depth across their team, starting with big man Adrien Sturt, who is averaging a double-double of 20.0 points and 12.3 rebounds. After narrowly missing out on a double-double in Round 1 (25 points, nine rebounds), Sturt has made up for it with back-to-back double-doubles in Round 2 (23 points, 12 rebounds) and Round 3 (12 points, 16 rebounds) to be a dominant player off the boards. He will team up with Matthew Fennell (14.3 points, 5.0 rebounds) in the front court, with center Trevor Latham (7.0 points, 7.3 rebounds) the other big man to pull down boards.

The back court features some talented guards and scoring machines, with CJ Asuncion-Byrd having missed the last game, but averaging 23.0 points, 4.5 rebounds and 2.0 assists per match. Alongside him, Jack Barry has managed the 18.7 points, 5.3 rebounds and 2.7 assists, to make it a five which is quite threatening to opposition lineups. The Raiders back court features Ben Ayre (15.0 points, 4.0 assists and 3.5 rebounds) and Jack Roberts (8.3 points, 5.6 rebounds) who have both made promising starts to the season.

In the front court, the Raiders have plenty of depth across the board. Dylan Hare leads the way in terms of points with 14.3 points, 7.0 rebounds and 3.3 assists, with Abraham Nyok (11.0 points, 7.3 rebounds) the other key player using his time on court wisely with at least seven rebounds per match. Simon Grant has been a reliable source of support on that front, averaging more than seven points and rebounds per game, as well as three assists and steals per game, to be an all-round contributor and has helped the Raiders remain undefeated this season.

In other results, Eltham Wildcats (1-2) make the trek to Tasmania to take on the Hobart Chargers (2-2) and North West Thunder (3-1), while Mt Gambier Pioneers (2-1) face both the Dandenong Rangers (0-3) and Melbourne Tigers (1-3) on the road. The Tigers take on the impressive Bendigo Braves the day before, with the Rangers locking horns with the Nunawading Spectres on Sunday. Albury-Wodonga Bandits is the only side to have lost four games and they come up against the Kilsyth Cobras (2-1) at home this week, with the undefeated Geelong Supercats hosting Nunawading Spectres (2-1) and then travelling to Waverley Falcons (2-2).

In the other remaining matches, two teams with opposite win-loss records in Sandringham Sabres (1-3) and Diamond Valley Eagles (3-1) do battle, while two evenly balanced teams with 2-2 records in Ballarat Miners and Frankston Blues also clash.


Hobart Chargers (2-2) vs. Eltham Wildcats (1-2)
Sandringham Sabres (1-3) vs. Diamond Valley Eagles (3-1)
Geelong Supercats (3-0) vs. Nunawading Spectres (2-1)
Ballarat Miners (2-2) vs. Frankston Blues (2-2)
Bendigo Braves (3-1) vs. Melbourne Tigers (1-3)
Dandenong Rangers (0-3) vs. Mt Gambier Pioneers (1-2)
North West Thunder (3-1) vs. Eltham Wildcats (1-2)
Albury-Wodonga Bandits (0-4) vs. Kilsyth Cobras (2-1)
Ringwood Hawks (1-2) vs. Knox Raiders (2-1)
Waverley Falcons (2-2) vs. Geelong Supercats (3-0)
Nunawading Spectres (2-1) vs. Dandenong Rangers (0-3)
Melbourne Tigers (1-3) vs. Mt Gambier Pioneers (2-1)

Picture credit: Mick Connolly

WNBL Player Spotlight: Townsville Fire – Nadeen Payne

FILLING Townsville’s power forward position is someone that has probably spent the most time out of all her teammates in the tropical Queensland city. Nadeen Payne, who was born in Townsville, will return to the Fire for the first time since the 2011/12 season after almost nine years away from the Sunshine State.

Following her initial two seasons with the Fire, Payne moved to South Australia to become a member of the Adelaide Lightning. After two seasons with the Lightning, the 27-year-old headed back to Queensland to become a part of the South East Queensland Stars’ inaugural season. It was after the Stars organisation went defunct after one season that Payne would then call Bendigo home for the next three years, plying her trade with the Spirit and their NBL1 affiliate, the Braves, during the off-seasons before heading out west in 2019.

After a solid season with the Perth Lynx during the WNBL20 season averaging 10.2 points per game alongside an average of 4.6 in the category of rebounds, Payne proved herself a severe threat to opposition sides. Notable performances last season included a 22-point and six-rebound performance against Adelaide, as well as a 10-point and 10-rebound double-double against the eventual champions, University of Canberra Capitals.

It was finally announced by the Fire on June 19, that the Townsville product was heading back home and Payne expressed her elation instantly, “I am really excited to be coming home, I can’t wait to play for Shannon [Seebohm], I have really enjoyed my conversations with him and the team he is putting together sounds great, I think we will surprise a lot of people when the season starts,” Payne said.

“My Mum and dad still live in Townsville, it will be great to be back around my family and playing Fire colours again, I am even more excited to learn that this season is the Fire’s 20th season and cannot wait to be a part of the celebrations and back with the local community, I think our team will be one that they will be really excited to get around.”

While Head Coach Shannon Seebohm realises that Payne possesses a unique skillset as a power forward that can shoot the ball, he finds that her ball-handling is at an elite level for players at her position.

“The thing that I knew of, but has still surprised me since I’ve been here, is her ability to put the ball on the floor as well,” Seebohm mentioned. “She has really good balance and she’s been working really hard on her finishing and her strength around the rim, as well as playing with a bit more force.”

“I feel like her skillset is going to be really suited to what we want to be able to do, and she’s going to help make other players better as well,” Seebohm summarised.

WNBL Free Agency: Garrick re-signs as McLean joins Spirit

MELBOURNE Boomers have re-signed Maddie Garrick as Bendigo Spirit announced a new recruit in the two moves over the past 24 hours in the Women’s National Basketball League (WNBL) Free Agency Period. The two moves followed from a big first few days of Free Agency which saw a number of players re-signed and a couple – Shyla Heal and Tahlia Tupaea – join new clubs.

The sole signing to the WNBL on Friday was Bendigo Spirit bringing in recently-turned 21-year-old Cassidy McLean, a former young star at the club. The 178cm forward had signed on to play with Bendigo Braves in the NBL1 competition, but that was scrapped due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Despite the disappointment of not playing in what was effectively the WNBL off-season, McLean has had extra time to recover from an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tear she suffered in March, 2019. Talking to the NBL1 website about her move to the Braves and subsequent Spirit, McLean said she had learnt a lot living with star basketballer, Tessa Lavey.

“I was living with Tessa when I came back to Bendigo for the NBL1, but it only ended up being about three weeks,” she said. said. “That was the first time I had met Tessa and we got to know each other. She is a great person, not just a wonderful basketballer. “It will be great getting to learn from her because she has experienced so much and gone to the Olympics and played at World Cups. They are all things I’d like to do in the future.”

Last year McLean had represented Newcastle Hunters in the Waratah Basketball League after heading north at the conclusion of the 2018/19 WNBL season. Whilst the season did not go to plan, the talented youngster has had plenty of time off to gain strength in her knee and be ready and raring to go for WNBL21.

Garrick was the sole re-signing on Friday, with the 179cm guard putting pen to paper for the Boomers. She averaged 11.2 points, 4.5 rebounds, 2.1 assists and 1.8 steals representing the Boomers in the 2019/20 WNBL season, playing all 23 games in a remarkable run of form.

NBL1 South Men’s team summary: Bendigo Braves

IN light of the COVID-19 global pandemic, the National Basketball League (NBL)1 South Conference has been cancelled this year. As such, while Draft Central intended to do a preview on all teams leading up to the delayed start, it will instead be a team summary from last season and what they might look to improve on for 2021. Today’s edition looks at Bendigo Braves who snuck into the finals in eighth and then stunned the competition with a run all the way to the decider before falling a win short of glory.

2019 in Review:

Finished: 8th
Wins: 11
Losses: 9
Home: 6-4
Away: 5-5

What went right:

  • Finals run from 8th on the table to reach the decider
  • Won seven of the eight games leading into the grand final
  • Ray Turner’s season
  • Two-point accuracy (54.8 per cent, the best in the league)
  • Defensive rebounds (28.6 per game, ranked third overall)

They were the team that snuck up on the rest of the competition and stepped up at the pointy end of the season. Bendigo Braves came from the clouds to be the clear standout performer when it counted most, winning seven of the last eight games of the season leading into the 2019 NBL1 Grand Final, rolling with momentum and storming to the most unlikely of grand final appearances from 8th. The country-based side had to travel for six consecutive weeks, with the last home game being a loss to non-finalists, Albury Wodonga Bandits on July 12. Few would have predicted what happened next, but the Braves went on an absolute tear and claimed scalps on the road of Knox Raiders, Geelong Supercats, Melbourne Tigers, Kilsyth Cobras and Frankston Blues before eventually succumbing in an action-packed grand final to Nunawading Spectres. Ray Turner deservedly earned a spot in the NBL1 All-Star Starting Five and was a key in getting Bendigo over the line during the finals series. Statistically, the Braves were deadly from two-point range with a 54.8 success rate showing just how important efficiency can be in a season. They also ranked third overall in defensive rebounds and performed when it counted most, even if they fell short of an almost dream run from 8th.

What went wrong:

  • The middle two quarters of the grand final
  • Free-throw accuracy (65.1 per cent, ranked 16th overall)
  • Steals (5.7 per game, ranked 17th overall)

There is not too much to be critical of when it comes to Braves’ season, though they did lose three consecutive games twice, including against sides that they should have beaten. In hindsight it mattered little and statistically the only areas they struggled were in free-throw accuracy where they recorded a 65.1 per cent efficiency to be ranked 16th in the competition, and in steals where they had the second lowest total of 5.7 per game. Otherwise the biggest regret would be the second and third quarters of the grand final. At quarter time, the Braves had stunned Nunawading Spectres to be 33-19 up and looked set to complete the most sensation finals run, only to be overwhelmed over the next two periods, 58-34 and fall 10 points behind. They managed to stem the flow in the final term, but the damage was done and they went down by nine points at the final buzzer.

Top Players:

Ray Turner

With a deadly accuracy from two-point range, Turner was unbelievable with his ability to score and collect the rebounds, finishing the season with a double-double of 23.4 points and 12.3 rebounds as well as picking up more than an assist, steal and block per game. He was not as efficient from the free-throw line at just 69 per cent, but his finals series was the best of any player out there with a month of games that were hard to fathom. He put up numbers of 26.0 points, 12.3 rebounds, 2.3 steals and 1.3 blocks per game across the four matches, including 24 points, nine rebounds, four steals and two blocks in the decider. What a season it was.

Deonte Burton

Playing 22 of a possible 24 games, Burton averaged 14.5 points, 5.3 rebounds, 5.5 assists and 1.3 steals per game in a season that would have been praised even more had it not been for Turner’s remarkable year. He led the team in assists and steals, and was equal second in blocks with 0.7 per match, and still managed a 36.7 per cent efficiency rate from beyond the arc. He teamed up well with Turner and was able to have an influence across the board, recording the second highest efficiency rating of any Brave this season.

Matthiang Muo

Combining well with Turner when it came to scoring, Muo averaged 20.4 points from 19 games and added a different element to the side than his All-Star teammate. He was the most deadly from the free-throw line at 86.7 per cent, and was the three-point specialist with 57 makes the most of anyone on his side at 42.2 per cent efficiency. Muo also averaged 5.3 rebounds and 1.9 assists per game during the 2019 season and was often able to find space due to the close checking of his teammates.

Young Gun:

Dyson Daniels

The 16-year-old Vic Country representative did not look out of place running out on court for the Braves in 14 appearances. He even started in two, and while his shooting accuracy could improve – with the increased pressure compared to the junior leagues – he still managed to pick up 2.5 points, 1.4 rebounds, 2.1 assists and 1.1 steals per game. In particular his ability to pickpocket the opposition was a highlight of his game, ranked third overall on the team for the stat behind Turner and Burton.

Christmas list for 2021:

Free-throw practice. It might seem fairly straightforward, but when you have a number of bigs who are able to get to the basket and potentially cop a foul, it is crucial to nail the follow-up free-throws. Unfortunately it is an area that could improve for the Braves, and there is not a great deal else they need to sharpen up, with a three-prong scoring attack and good depth able to provide great rotations across the court.


The Bendigo Braves had a wonderful end to the season after it looked to not be their year prior to the final month. The saying ‘you have to be in it to win it’ could not be more true as grabbing eighth spot, the Braves made the most of it, and aside from falling short in the decider, should be thrilled with what they accomplished in season 2019.

NBL1 South women’s team summary: Bendigo Braves

IN light of the COVID-19 global pandemic, the National Basketball League (NBL)1 South Conference has been cancelled this year. As such, while Draft Central intended to do a preview on all teams leading up to the delayed start, it will instead be a team summary from last season and what they might look to improve on for 2021. Today’s edition looks at last year’s minor premiers in the women’s competition, Bendigo Braves who fell in the finals series.

2019 in Review:

Finished: 1st (lost in Preliminary Final)
Wins: 19
Losses: 1
Home: 9-1
Away: 10-0

What went right:

  • Ridiculous regular season, only dropping one game
  • 12-game winning streak heading into finals
  • Kelly Wilson’s season
  • Offence (ranked first in two-point field goal percentage and free-throw percentage, and assists, and second for overall points)
  • Disciplined (least personal fouls with 12.7 per game)

Prior to the finals series, it was hard to really find too much of a chink in the Braves’ armour. They finished minor premiers ahead of Geelong comfortably, and even had a big 30-point win over the – albeit understrength – Supercats in the final round of the season. Their only loss of the regular season came in round 11 against the Supercats, and with a 12-game winning streak heading into the finals series, few would have predicted what was to follow in the last few weeks of the competition. Aside from how it ultimately finished, the Braves were a dominant side both at home (9-1) and on the road (10-0) and were the clear standout team when it came to offence. They were ranked the top of the competition in both two-point field goal and free-throw percentage, which ensured they were getting the points whether they were fouled or not. They were also creative in their attack, able to find targets through opposition defences, with neat passes which led to assists – they topped the competition in that statistic as well – whilst remaining disciplined with the least personal fouls per game at just 12.7. In other words, so much went right except August.

What went wrong:

  • The finals series
  • Blocks (ranked 14th overall with just 2.2 per game)

Had this review been up until the end of the regular season, it would be a real head scratcher to find too much wrong with the season. They had only had the one loss to the Supercats and were firing on all cylinders come August. No one would have predicted a shock loss to Kilsyth Cobras in the qualifying final – with the Cobras sneaking into fourth, but Kilsyth racked up a whopping 16 offensive rebounds to five, and beat the Braves at their own assist game (25-22). The finals series by the experienced Lauren Nicholson was out of this world, and the qualifying final was no exception, though Sarah Boothe‘s 21 points and 17 rebounds – eight offensive and nine defensive – is what won the Cobras’ the match. A heartbreaking loss to Geelong on the road in the preliminary final ended the Braves’ chances at a flag, but they could certainly look back on a wonderful season, even if they did not get reward for effort.

Top Players:

Kelly Wilson

An incredibly player who is almost super-human with her endurance, averaging a mind-boggling 38.4 minutes per game in the 40-minute matches. She had almost 350 attempts from the field, and got to the line for 135 free throws, averaging 87.4 per cent for the latter. Finishing the season with 19.3 points, 19.5 assists and 6.4 rebounds, as well as 2.0 steals, it was no surprise to see Wilson named as the Most Valuable Player (MVP) in the competition. Received a lot of plaudits for her season and deserved it too, with the 34-year-old like a fine wine.

Rebecca Tobin

A rebounding machine, Rebecca Tobin was simply remarkable off the boards, averaging 13.3 rebounds per game, with 9.3 off the defensive end and 4.0 from the offence to try and create second chance points. She also finished the year with 2.6 assists, 1.7 steals and 1.6 blocks in a really consistent season, and would have been in MVP calculations too had it not been for Wilson’s unbelievable season which just topped her and Tobin could only manage the 15 games. Unlike her teammates, Tobin did not try and shoot outside her limits, with the 30-year-old center only making one three-point attempt and mostly using her bigger frame to get to the line to muscle her way in to the basket.

Gabrielle Richards

Richards provided a two-prone attack off the boards with Tobin, averaging 9.2 rebounds per game and coming close to a double double herself. She averaged the 14.1 points and played every game of the season, also picking up two assists and one steal per game. Like Wilson, the 34-year-old was strong and used her bigger body to advantage around the basket, which is what made the Braves such a dominant team with two stars rebounding it so consistently every match.

Young Gun:

Danielle O’Toole

The Braves do not have as much youth as other sides, with their experience leading them to the minor premiership and as a title contender. But with three teenagers named on the list at the start of the season, it was O’Toole who managed to get on court the most with 13 games, albeit with an average of just under five minutes per match. She made up for lost time however, putting up 3.4 points per game, which is almost a point-per-minute. Most impressively, O’Toole looms as a long range shooter, averaging 46.4 per cent from three-point range, sinking 13 of 28 attempts, ranking first for accuracy in the side, and equal fifth for attempts despite much less time on court.

Christmas list for 2021:

Young depth. Bendigo’s core group of players are elite talents, but are still the wrong side of 30 and with another year on, will begin the season with a couple of 36-year-olds and a few more past 30. Tessa Lavey (27-years-old by next year’s season start) looms as the youngest starter, and while some of the teenagers got minutes, it will be about blooding the next group of players to come through the Braves program. Hopefully the veterans will look to go a week longer and push on in 2021 for a strong season.


They came so close to a title in 2019, and will be hungry to go better in 2021. There are questions around the age profile of the group, but with the form they were in for last season, it is hard to doubt them. If anything, a season off might prolong the careers of some of the veterans who earn a much needed rest. Bendigo will be a team to watch and if the list can relatively remain stable, then the Braves will be the team to beat.

Nunawading Spectres claim inaugural NBL1 Men’s title

NUNAWADING Spectres have claimed the 2019 National Basketball League (NBL)1 Men’s title, defeating a gallant Bendigo Braves by nine points on Saturday night. It was a remarkable game that had more twists and turns than an Edgar Allan Poe novel, and whilst both teams had chances to take out the title, it was the higher ranked team that got the job done.

Both sides started the game trading blows, with Nunawading hitting the front when Tom Wright sank a three-pointer at the seven and a half minute mark of the first term, but 12 of the next 16 points went the way of the Braves to extend the lead out to seven with less than five minutes remaining in the term. Nunawading fought back again to cut the deficit to two a minute later, before Bendigo piled on the points to go on a 14-2 run to end the term. A Chris Hogan triple and a Mathiang Muo stepback jump shot – the latter in the final three seconds of the quarter – handed the eighth placed side a handy lead at the break.

The 14-point margin would be eaten into by the Spectres with Nunawading piling on 15-8 to start the term, before back-to-back triples from Deonte Burton extended the margin back out to 13. The lead was still 10 points when Muo sank two free throws with three minutes remaining in the half, but it was fitting that by the time Wright had nailed another triple himself, scores were level. The half-time buzzer sounded with both teams back where they started – level – having both scored 53 points apiece in the first half.

The teams again traded blows early, and while Ray Turner put the Braves in front by two with a layup in the opening few minutes, it would be the last time Bendigo held the lead for the game. Nunawading shot 15 points to two over the course of the next four and a half minutes to lead by 11 with just over three minutes on the clock. Burton came to the much needed rescue with an opportunity to put it back to six points, but the last seven points of the term went the way of the Spectres for Nunawading to hold a 77-64 lead at the final break.

A couple of triples to Hogan and Muo in the opening few minutes separated by a Simon Conn jumpshot had the Braves back to within nine, but by the time Conn had nailed a triple with just under eight minutes remaining, the Spectres were out to a game-high 14-point lead. Bendigo refused to give in with Burton again doing his best – a layup coming timely with less than four minutes remaining and six points the margin. When Muo sank a triple there was 103 seconds left in the final and the crowd was fever-pitch in anticipation. It was game on. Both Dain Swetalla and Conn added to the total to give the Spectres a seven-point breather, but a Turner layup with 52 seconds left cut it back to five to give the Braves hope. Alas, it was Swetalla again who stood tall, converting a lay-up and then two free-throws before the final buzzer to hand Nunawading a memorable, 99-90 victory.

Swetalla was the star in the win, picking up 28 points, nine rebounds and three assists, well aided by Wright who made six of 11 from long-range on his way to 24 points, three rebounds and four assists. Conn had 15 points and five rebounds, shooting at an efficient 62.5 per cent from the field, while Costa Hronopoulos picked up a double-double with 11 points and 11 rebounds, as did Shane McDonald who was the playmaker thanks to 12 points and 10 assists. Turner and Burton had a team-high 24 points apiece, while Turner also had nine rebounds, four steals and two blocks, as Burton helped himself to five rebounds and five assists. Muo (23 points, five rebounds and two steals) and Hogan (15 points, two rebounds) were also prominent.

NBL1 mid-season review: Bendigo Braves

IN the mid-season break, Basketball Draft Central takes a look at each National Basketball League (NBL)1 team in both the men’s and women’s competition and will analyse how they have performed to date, some of their top performers, and the run home to see if they can make finals. Today we analyse the Bendigo Braves, with the women firing on all cylinders, while the men have had an indifferent start, hoping to find form in the final stanza of the season to crack into the top eight.


Position: 9th
Wins: 6
Losses: 7

Home: 5-2
Away: 1-5
Last 10: 5-5

Points For: 1091
Points Against: 1071
Percentage: 101.9
Points: 18


The Bendigo Braves Men’s side has been a fairly formidable force at home, winning five of its seven games, but has struggled on the road with just one win from six outings. They have had an inconsistent season to be 6-7 at the mid-season break, with five wins in their past 10 games. In terms of the players, only one has started in every single game – likely best and fairest winner, Ray Turner who has posted a massive 280 points – almost 130 more than the next highest Brave. Turner averages 21.5 points per game, as well as 12.4 rebounds, 2.1 assists, 1.4 blocks and 0.8 steals. He is shooting at 54.5 per cent from the field, ranked third overall at the club. Other players in double-figure points averages are Mathiang Muo (17.0 points, 5.6 rebounds and 2.0 assists) and Deonte Burton (12.8 points, 4.7 rebounds, 5.8 assists and 1.2 steals) who have combined for a total of 20 games, with 14 players having taken the court for Bendigo this season.

The run home:

R10: Albury Wodonga Bandits (A)
R11: Ballarat Miners (H)
R12: Eltham Wildcats (A)
R13: Diamond Valley Eagles (H)
R14: Albury Wodonga Bandits (H) | Knox Raiders (A)
R15: Geelong Supercats (A)

The Braves have a good chance of securing a top eight spot this season with just two games against finals-bound sides remaining from their seven outings. They play Albury Wodonga Bandits twice, and aside from Ballarat Miners and Geelong Supercats, have a relatively easy run home with games against three of the bottom five sides.


Position: 2nd
Wins: 12
Losses: 1

Home: 6-1
Away: 6-0
Last 10: 9-1

Points For: 1062
Points Against: 917
Percentage: 115.8
Points: 36


The Bendigo Braves Women’s side has been one of the title contenders all year, with just a 16-point defeat at the hands of ladder leaders, Geelong Supercats as the only blemish in their season to date. The Braves have been really consistent at home (6-1) and away (6-0) and with four genuine stars, are a worry for any opposition side. The four players who have stood out this season thus far are led by Kelly Wilson, who will be in contention for the overall Most Valuable Player (MVP) award, having averaged 22.1 points, 10.7 assists, 6.5 rebounds and 1.8 steals per game. The trio of others who are often amongst the best are Tessa Lavey (16,8 points, 4.8 rebounds, 5.2 assists and 1.6 steals), Gabrielle Richards (14.9 points, 10.3 rebounds and 2.2 assists), and recently, American import Rebecca Tobin (14.8 points, 12.2 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 1.4 steals and 1.0 blocks) who has just played the five games. Importantly they have had contributions from the likes of Nadeen Payne and Bianca Dufelmeier as well, while blooding youngsters such as Olivia Noter (seven games, three starts) and Piper Dunlop (one game). Well and truly one of the contenders heading into the run home to finals.

The run home:

R10: Albury Wodonga Bandits (A)
R11: Ballarat Rush (H)
R12: Eltham Wildcats (A)
R13: Diamond Valley Eagles (H)
R14: Albury Wodonga Bandits (H) | Knox Raiders (A)
R15: Geelong Supercats (A)

The run home should not be a problem for the impressive Braves who seem to meet every challenge thrown their way. The final game of their regular season is against Geelong Supercats, which could end up being a battle for the minor premiership.

NBL1 Women’s round four recap: Braves sole side undefeated after Rangers, Hawks go down

BENDIGO Braves are the last side standing undefeated in the National Basketball League (NBL)1 competition after the other two remaining undefeated sides suffered losses in Round 4. The Braves defeated Launceston Tornadoes, while Dandenong Rangers lost to Melbourne Tigers, and Ringwood Hawks went down to Eltham Wildcats.

Bendigo remained undefeated after shaking off an early challenge from Launceston to run out 105-83 winners. The Braves led by six at quarter time but that lead was cut to five by the main break. The Braves stepped up in the second half and showed why they are yet to be beaten, knocking off the Tornadoes with a 48-31 second half. Nadeen Payne scored 27 points and six rebounds, while Kelly Wilson had an unbelievable triple-double with 23 points, 20 assists and 10 rebounds to be far and away the star on the night. Tessa Lavey was also impressive for the Braves with 20 points, six rebounds and seven assists. For the Tornadoes, Stephanie Gardner had 29 points, five rebounds, eight assists and two steals in the loss, while Brittany Hodges had 16 points, six defensive rebounds and two steals.

Dandenong’s unbeaten streak came to an end at the hands of Melbourne, with a slow start proving costly. They failed to reach double figures in the first three quarters and by that stage, the Tigers lead was 22. Dandenong hit back with a strong final quarter, scoring 17-9 to win 56-42. Louella Tomlinson was the key player for the Tigers, sinking 14 points as well as recording 11 rebounds and six assists. Molly Mathews and Kasey Burton combined for 24 rebounds and six assists in the match for the winners, while Colleen Planeta and Rosie Fadljevic were the most prominent off the boards for Dandenong, with six rebounds apiece. Taylah Gillam was the top scorer with 13 points, five rebounds and five assists. It was better news last Wednesday for Dandenong when they defeated Frankston 87-63. The Rangers won every quarter and never really looked like losing taking control from early on. Rebecca Cole sank 27 points and had four rebounds, six assists and two steals in the match, while Planeta recorded 22 points, five defensive rebounds and three blocks. Fadljevic was again prominent off the boards with eight rebounds to go with her 14 points. For the Blues, Steph Reid was the dominant scorer with 28 points, three rebounds, seven assists and two steals, while Saraid Taylor had 11 points and seven rebounds.

Frankston also suffered a second loss over the weekend, going down to Nunawading Spectres. The Blues were outscored in each term as the consistent Spectres scored 23 points in three quarters and 24 in the other quarter to record a nice 93-75 victory. Taylor posted 12 points to be the leading scorer, while Joanna Smith had 11 points, eight rebounds and three assists in the loss. For the Spectres, Chelsea D’Angelo was the star with 20 points, seven rebounds and seven assists, while Rebecca Pizzey sank 21 points, seven rebounds and three blocks.

The other side to taste its first defeat of the season was Ringwood Hawks who went down to Eltham Wildcats after a disappointing final term. The Hawks led by seven at the final break, before the Wildcats ran over the top scoring 19 points to six in the last quarter for a 74-68 victory. Margaret Mulligan scored 23 points and 15 rebounds in a huge double-double performance, while also notching up three assists, two steals and four blocks. Chelsea Schweers (19 points, six rebounds, five assists and three steals) and Vanessa Panousis (14 points, four rebounds, five assists) were the others who stood out in the win. For the Hawks, Cassidy Mihalko had a team-high 16 points and 12 rebounds, while Jacqueline Trotto finished with 12 points, six rebounds and two assists.

In other results, Geelong Supercats notched up two wins with victories over Basketball Australia Centre of Excellence (CoE) and Kilsyth Cobras, Knox Raiders defeated Ballarat Miners in a thriller. Albury Wodonga Bandits got the job done against Basketball Australia CoE, while Kilsyth Cobras, Hobart Huskies, Diamond Valley Eagles and North West Thunder all notched up wins.

Round 4 results:

Frankston Blues 63 defeated by Dandenong Rangers 87
Basketball Centre of Excellence 49 defeated by Geelong Supercats 97
Geelong Supercats 83 defeated Kilsyth Cobras 72
Dandenong Rangers 42 defeated by Melbourne Tigers 56
Southern Sabres 74 defeated by Hobart Huskies 86
Bendigo Braves 105 defeated Launceston Tornadoes 83
Nunawading Spectres 93 defeated Frankston Blues 75
Knox Raiders 93 defeated Ballarat Rush 90
Ringwood Hawks 68 defeated by Eltham Wildcats 74
Albury Wodonga Bandits 83 defeated Basketball Australia Centre of Excellence 65
Diamond Valley Eagles 67 defeated by Hobart Huskies 90
Kilsyth Cobras 94 defeated Melbourne Tigers 62
Waverley Falcons 88 defeated by North West Thunder 92