Hume City Broncos were made to work for victory against McKinnon Cougars, but were able to keep their season alive in Big V women’s state championship.
After finishing equal second on wins with Werribee Devils and Keilor Thunder, the Broncos were forced to front up for an elimination final based on the head-to-head records.
While it took a bit of time, the Broncos were able to get out to a solid lead of 17 points at the final break.
The Cougars won the final quarter, but the Broncos had done enough to secure a 88-72 win.
Broncos coach Dee Butler was happy with the outcome, but said the performance wasn’t anywhere near their best.
“We will take it,” she said. “We made hard work of it. I’ve been away for a month and still getting back into the swing of things with the group.
“McKinnon played zone for a fair bit and bogged us down in the half court.
“We didn’t run as much as we would have liked.”
Butler said inside presence made a huge difference for the side.
Five players scored double figures, with Nicole Zammit and Teyla Evans top scoring with 17 points each.
Such was the Broncos’ depth, Evans started on the bench.
Butler said their depth and spread of goal scorers continued to be their strength.
“The way we move the ball helps with that,” she said.
“It’s a good thing that everyone gets along so well off court. Everyone supports each other … teams like this don’t come along very often.”
Butler said the crowd that turned out on Saturday night to watch both the women’s and men’s teams was sensational and reminded her of the crowds she used to confront her when she was coaching against the Broncos.
The Broncos’ women’s side will this week face the Werribee Devils in a knock-out semi-final.
The Devils lost their qualifying final to Keilor Thunder 88-62.
The Broncos won the most recent match between the two sides, with some Nicole Zammit magic late sealing the win.
Neither side was at full strength on that occasion.
Butler said she expected her Broncos side to get better this week.
She only returned from Europe last week, after coaching the under-19 Gems Australian side to a silver medal, missing several games with the Broncos in the process.
The Gems fell just short of the gold medal, losing to the Americans in over-time in the grand final.
“It was such an amazing experience to be part of,” she said.
“It was a challenging, but the group developed and improved every game.
“By the time finals came, we were hitting our straps.
“I haven’t been able to sit down and watch the game yet. I’m so proud of everyone and how they handed it and the support that we had from back home.”
The Broncos’ men’s side will need to come from behind if it is to progress through to the next round of the state championship finals.
The Broncos lost game one of their best-of-three series against Hawthorn Magic, 112-98.
The Magic broke open the game in the middle two quarters.
Jake Martin top scored for the Broncos with 23 points.