KELLY Wilson had achieved most things in her basketball career before last weekend, but despite her long association with the Bendigo Braves there was one item she was yet to tick off.
“I actually hadn’t won a championship with the Braves,” she said.
“I’ve played here for so long but their last win was before I got here and then we had been close a few times while I’ve been playing here.”
So in last weekend’s South East Australian Basketball League grand final the Braves gave Wilson the elusive title in fine fashion, she and Gabe Richards leading the way in a remarkable win over Launceston at the State Basketball Centre.
Bendigo beat the Tornadoes by 23 points, putting up a huge 119 points.
Gabe Richards had one of the best games of her decorated career with an astonishing 43 points and 24 rebounds while Wilson poured in 27 points and a huge 20 assists.
Given the mindblowing season the club had put together – going 20-0 through the regular season, winning two games by more than 45 points, romping their way through to the grand final after a loss to Launceston in the first playoff match – perhaps it shouldn’t have come as a surprise.
“I never thought the final would be like that. Normally finals are scrappy and 80 points is a really good score, it was just amazing,” coach Megan Moody said.
“I’m not even sure it was bad defence. We shot it at around 60 per cent and they went at about 50 per cent, it was just incredible basketball.”
The team’s first-year coach, Moody said she was incredibly proud of her side.
“We just had an amazing group of girls, they were so committed and took on the feedback, were willing to learn… I couldn’t have asked for more from team,” Moody said.
Wilson said she knew the group had the potential to be special from day one of preseason.
“The first practice game we played just some of the things we did and the connection we had, you kind of knew that we had something,” she said.
The win was Bendigo’s first women’s title since 2007 and the club’s second in three years, after the men won the championship in 2016.
– Joel Peterson