Bacchus Marsh Lions’ season came to an end at the hands of the Bendigo Braves in the opening round of the Country Basketball League men’s north-west finals.

The Lions went in as underdogs in the semi final as they hit the road to take on the Braves and took it up to their opponent for three quarters.

The Braves found another level in the last quarter to run away with the win in the last quarter, winning 95-79.

Lions co-coach Jeff Feben said they had taken some confidence into the match despite having to travel.

“We were coming off an ordinary game the week before,” he said.

“That wasn’t a bad sign for us as we seem to play well coming off a poor game, as it has been a reality check.

“We gave ourselves a chance. Not the strongest chance, but a chance.” Feben, who missed the game due to attending a wedding, said by all reports they were just beaten by a better team. Scores were level at half time, with the Lions not able to keep the same momentum going.

“Overall they were a slightly better team,” he said. “They are a quality team and they played some good defence despite our guys playing well.

“We couldn’t hold on.” The Lions leaders led the way, with Billy Feben and Jordan Kirk scoring 23 and 21 points respectively, despite close attention.

Jeff Feben said the Braves were able to limit the impact of both of them late in the game.

The loss brings to an end the Lions’ second season in the CBL.

Last season they made the grand final in a different conference.

Feben said it was disappointing not to at least make the grand final, but they were still proud of the group.

“We played well overall for the season and we’re proud of the way they have represented Bacchus Marsh the last couple of seasons.

“There’s been some strong development from the first game to the last game.

“At times at the start of the season, teams would blow us out when we put our bench on. At the end of the season, the bench was beating some teams.”

Feben said there were good signs for the association with some of the younger players coming through.

He highlighted the work of Josh Borninkhof, Colby Pigott, Max Beaumont and development player Cooper McIntosh.

“Hopefully these guys can continue to do that at a higher level of basketball and it will hold them in good stead.”

Bendigo will face the Maryborough Blazers in the grand final.