Ballarat’s A Grade basketball wrapped up its 2013 Championship Season in style, with two thrilling grand finals being played out on Monday night at the WIN Minerdome.
Phoenix, led by their star Kate Willey, were the benchmark for the Women’s A competition all year, and proved their dominance on the big stage, with a 43-33 victory over Celtic Tigers Green. The win gives Phoenix their third consecutive premiership.
The women’s final was a defensive showcase – with both teams eager to stamp their authority on the game early. A physical first half saw neither team able to establish a commanding lead, as Phoenix took a narrow three-point edge into the main break in a remarkably low scoring half (16-13).
A 12-3 run to begin the second half, capped off by a Kate Willey And-1 conversion, saw Phoenix blow open a double digit lead and establish early momentum.
A swift Celtic timeout momentarily halted Phoenix’s dominance, and ignited the Tigers’ offense. Led by the strong shooting and playmaking of Tahni Nestor and Ryleigh Haire, Celtic began a slight resurgence.
Despite the Tigers drawing within five points with just minutes to play, Phoenix’s Kate Willey calmly netted multiple free throws down the stretch to ice their 10-point victory. Willey was instrumental, notching 25 points, and was awarded grand final MVP honours to cap off an excellent season.
The Men’s A-Grade final was a hard-fought contest between the top two placed sides in the competition. The Wildcats ran away with a 15-point victory over Phoenix, in front of a large Minerdome crowd.
The first half was an outstanding showcase of basketball talent, as the Wildcats’ Anthony Fisher established early dominance on the game with his playmaking and shooting. Despite great scoring production from Phoenix’s James Sutherland throughout the opening half, the Wildcats took an eight-point advantage into the main break.
Cameron McCallum was huge for Phoenix, ripping down numerous tough rebounds, and throwing accurate outlet passes to initiate their transition offense early in the second half. A promising early run for Phoenix was swiftly quelled by a Wildcats timeout, and a re-focus on defense.
The Wildcats’ defensive pressure stepped up a notch, and forced turnovers led to easy scoring opportunities on the break. Phoenix’s lack of ball control throughout the second half made the comeback efforts tough despite continued scoring efforts from Sutherland, even with an apparent injury.
Jacob Borner stepped up for the Wildcats, connecting on four three-pointers in the second half to help the defending champions close out the match and take a 59-44 triumph.
Anthony Fisher was awarded grand final MVP honours, as his 19 points and countless assists were crucial for the Wildcats’ victory.
In Other Monday Night Grand Final Results:
A1 Men: Wolves 68 def. Celtic Tigers Red 53
A2 Men Blue: Saints 26 def. Saints Blue 21.
A2 Men Red: Isotopes 31 def. North Kings 25.
A1 Women: Exies Acmy 48 def. Saints 41.