Horsham Hornets look to secure finals berth

HORSHAM Hornets will be out to secure a Country Basketball League grand final berth when they go head-to-head with Colac Kookas in Saturday night’s do-or-die semi-final in Horsham.

Playing coach Tim Pickert said his charges would take confidence from their perfect record against the Kookas this season. 

A depleted Hornets outfit defeated Colac by seven points in round three of the south-west conference, winning 83-76, before triumphing by seven points again in round nine, 77-7.

“We’ve won both times, so the pressure is on them,” Pickert said.

“We just need to play like we did the last two times we played them.” 

The Kookas will consider themselves unlucky not to be playing the match on their own turf.

Both teams finished with nine wins for the season, but Colac’s higher percentage was mitigated by the head-to-head results.

The Kookas are coming off a 19-point win against conference reigning premier Mount Gambier, but have not played since round 11 due to byes in the final three rounds.

Colac will be hoping dominant centre Liam McInerney and sharp-shooter Marcus Larcombe continue their strong form for the season.

“They have a very tall team, so our big guys will have a lot of work to do,” Pickert said.

“We just need to be patient and play good defence.”

Pickert said the Hornets should have a full team available, including Victoria Country Basketball representative Darcy Tucker, who has returned from an AIS-AFL Academy football tour of New Zealand.

He said the Hornets’ starting five – including players such as Tucker, Matt Lovel, Stuart Robinson and Jake Hobbs – would be called on to lead the way.

Saturday night’s victor will face the winner of the match between first-placed Warrnambool and fourth-placed Mt Gambier at Warrnambool.

Horsham has unfinished business this year after being bundled out in the semi-final by Corio Bay last season.

As an added incentive for the Hornets, the south-west conference grand final will be in Horsham regardless of which teams are playing.

“You don’t get a home final too often,” Pickert said.

“I don’t want to go to watch a grand final in my home town – I want to be in it.”

Pickert said the team hoped the community would turn out in force for Saturday night’s match, which will be at Horsham Basketball Stadium at 7pm.

“Hopefully a lot of people get along and support us,” he said.

“We’d also like to wish the women all the best of luck for their final.

“It would be awesome to have two Hornets teams playing in home grand finals next week.”

The Hornets women will travel to Warrnambool to take on the Mermaids, while fellow Wimmera hopefuls Stawell Wildcats will go head-to-head with Portland Coasters at Portland for a chance to play in the grand final.

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