The Sabres VYC Women are through to another Grand Final Series after defeating Melbourne Tigers in a tense battle 74-62.
Led by their core of VYC “veterans” Cassie Hill, Issy Shea, Ella Batish and Meg Ragauskas, the Sabres pulled away after half time with a 26-16 third quarter propelling them towards victory.
Coach wood praised the efforts of Cassie Hill who was instrumental in the win. “Cass was huge. Her 12 points in the 3rd quarter really broke the game open. With them really locking down on Ella it was her chance to step up and she relished the opportunity. She was also tremendous defensively as she was matched up on guards for most of the match. 11 rebounds to go with her 23 points (@59%) – massive!”
Wood was also pleased with her team’s unselfishness, “I think the 21 assists to 5 really sums up the game. As is always the case the girls moved the ball and found the open players.”
Ella Batish finished the game with 16 points and 7 rebounds, while Chloe Hicks was her efficient self, adding 10 points, 5 rebounds and 4 assists. She also had 5 steals. Issy Shea was also key, with her defensive job on Melbourne’s Zoe Cransberg a big reason the Sabres won. Meg Ragauskas was also important in the win, with her and intensity at both ends of the floor one of the keys to the win.
A tight first half saw neither team able to assert themselves, and the Sabres went into the break ahead 31-29. “We were actually playing ok in the first half, we were just struggling to put the ball in the hole (28 % shooting). Our effort was there (21 offensive rebounds to their 12 defensive) we just couldn’t convert.”
Looking forward to the Grand Final series against Knox, Coach Wood spoke about how difficult the match-up would be. “Knox are a really tough team. We have beaten them twice this season, but they haven’t had a full team on either occasion. They have been in great form, sitting out of the top 4 for most of the season they seemed to smash everyone on their run home. Like us they have a lot of contributors, so we need to respect everyone as if we focus on only a couple of players then they have others who can step up.”
One of the features of the Grand Final series will be the match up of the guards. Knox’s Leah Santamaggio (shooting the 3 @ 40%) has been in devastating form recently. She is a hard worker who can create her own shot as well as distribute for others. Emily Fisher (11 pts 5 rebs 6 ass) and Maighan Hedge (10pts 3 ass) are quality guards who apply relentless defensive pressure and are great shooters and penetrators.
The match up of the centres will also play a huge part in the outcome of the game. Eliana Bravington (18 points & 14 rebounds) has been arguably the best centre in the league all season. Batish and Sophie Van Vliet will have to be at their best to curb her influence.
Wood knows, after last season’s tough series victory against Ringwood that this year’s Grand Final will be just as difficult. “We know Knox play hard, press at every opportunity and attack the basket aggressively. We will certainly need to come ready to play 4 quarters.”
Grand Final Game 1 Details:
What: VYC Women Grand Final Series Game 1
Who: Knox Raiders v Sandringham Sabres
When: 7.00pm – Saturday August 4th
Where: State Basketball Centre, Wantirna
***Games 2 and 3 will be at Sandringham Basketball Stadium, Saturday August 11 and Sunday August 12 (if required). Times to be made public early next week.