THE Bendigo Braves will celebrate yet another major milestone this week when Andrea Wilson plays her 300th game for the club.
Wilson, a two-time WNBL champion with the Bendigo Spirit and three-time SEABL champion with the Braves, notches the milestone when the Braves women play Geelong tonight.
The guard, known as ‘Mops’ to teammates, has played under four coaches with the Braves and is the longest-tenured active member of the team.
Recent seasons have seen Wilson win a netball premiership with Golden Square and a football flag with the Bendigo Thunder, but her first love has always been basketball.
Both Andrea and sister Kelly have been mainstays among Bendigo’s basketball community, both with the Spirit and Braves.
Andrea followed Kelly, a year her elder, to Bendigo to study pharmacy at university after playing junior basketball at Leongatha.
She hasn’t always seen big minutes on court, but Braves coach Megan Moody said her effort drive the standards of the whole team.
“Her work ethic and commitment to the team can’t be faulted, and as a player she is highly respected by all that have played with and against her,” Moody said.
“She is an amazing person both on and off the court, and is the epitome of what a great teammate and friend is.
“I personally feel very fortunate to have had the opportunity to play alongside ‘Mops’ and to now be coaching her.”
The 13-0 Braves women play Geelong tonight before playing Sydney Uni on Saturday night.
The Braves men, meanwhile, have strung together three wins on end and tonight face the biggest match of their season so far.
Bendigo plays Geelong, the two sides sitting a game apart in fifth and sixth, respectively.
The Braves produced a stifling defensive performance to comfortably beat Mount Gambier last Friday night 68-53 before requiring overtime the following evening against Albury Wodonga in a 102-94 victory.
The Supercats toppled the league-leading Kilsyth last weekend after putting up 104 points on Frankston the night prior but Braves guard Indiana Faithfull said the hosts are building confidence.
“It’s been good to get a few wins on the board, there’s a bit more confidence in the team,” he said.
“Defensively we were really good on Friday night and although we weren’t at our best on Saturday we found a way to grind it out and get over the line and in the end that’s what counts.”
The Braves have just the one game for the weekend, the first of three straight matches at home including a Wednesday night matchup against arch rivals Ballarat on July 11.
Tonight’s double-header against Geelong starts with the women’s match at 6pm before the men take to the court at 8pm.
– Joel Peterson