HORSHAM Hornets men and women teams will play a double-header home grand final after both teams recorded elimination Country Basketball League South West semi-final wins on Saturday.
The Hornets women recorded a comfortable 81-55 victory on the road against Warrnambool Mermaids in the afternoon, before the Hornets men came from behind to run out 71-66 victors at home over Colac Kookas at night.
The under-sized Hornets trailed Colac for the majority of the match – at one stage by 12 points – before a momentum shift saw them fight back to claim and maintain the lead with less than three minutes remaining.
Playing coach Tim Pickert, who played a starring role with 18 points, said the home crowd boosted his side at the end after a slow first-half.
“We’re sort of a running side, but we didn’t really get that going in the first half,” he said.
“In the last five minutes we probably played our best – having the home crowd always gives you a lift there at the end.”
Both sides attempted to find their feet in the first term in an end-to-end contest, with the scores locked at 14-apiece at the first change.
The Kookas’ shooting game clicked into gear in the second term as the Hornets struggled to make an impact offensively.
But a pair of late baskets to Pickert reduced the margin to three points at the main break.
Colac kicked away early in the third quarter, before the Hornets fought back mid-way through the term, reducing the margin and engaging the home crowd.
Matt Lovel, 15 points, was dominant in the third term and shifted momentum back in the Hornets’ favour with a pair of baskets before the final change.
“Matt Lovel and Tim Friend really got us going again in the third quarter,” Pickert said.
“Our big guys kept fighting hard – they worked their butts off all night.”
Friend continued to have an influence on the scoreboard early in the final term before finishing with 12 points.
Darcy Tucker, 13 points, hit a three-pointer from the top of the key to pull the margin back to two points with just four minutes remaining.
Pickert added another three points before combining with Tucker for two, and when Lovel added another two with less than a minute to go, the Hornets had claimed complete control.
Pickert praised a complete team effort but said while he was thrilled with the win, he was now focusing on claiming the title against Mt Gambier on Saturday.
“I just think everyone played their role – there were no passengers on the court,” he said.
“It’s just another game – we’ve got to play the best 40 minutes of basketball we can, and I’m confident if we do that, we’ll win.”