THE Lockstar Homes Mildura Heat secured a finals berth after they defeated Camberwell Dragons by 11 points last Saturday night.
Everything hung in the balance up until last Sunday’s game where Geelong lost to Casey, which gave the Heat the right of path into the finals, where they will face the Latrobe Energy in tomorrow night’s quarter final in Melbourne.
A relieved Heat head coach Jason Spratt likes his team’s chances against Latrobe, and said they have been so focused on making the finals, and now that they have achieved that, will loosen up and play more freely.
Spratt feels the Energy will find it difficult to defend his offensive, and is expecting his team to be really competitive.
The Heat have been fantastic in handling the pressure of making the finals, and also the many distractions they have faced this season. That resilience will only hold them in good stead tomorrow night.
Mildura will have to put the clamps on the Energy’s Jordon Coleman and Rohan Lemons who are Latrobe’s major scorers.
The Energy took the points in their Round One contest by a meagre two points, but in their most recent meeting the Heat secured a 26-point victory.
Mildura should be full of confidence that they can pull this one off, but will have to make a few adjustments from last week’s game, where they were pushed by Camberwell.
Against Camberwell, Mildura held a one-point buffer going into the second quarter, which turned out to be a thrilling one with seven lead changes.
Coming out after half-time, Decorey Jones, BELOW LEFT, lit the crowd up with an emphatic dunk, but even that couldn’t make the dogged wooden- spooners go away.
However, with Dave Meyer controlling the point and dishing off valuable assists to Brent Symons, BELOW RIGHT, Calvin Henry and Alex Newstead, the Heat steadied and were able to hold onto an 11-point lead at the final siren.
An outstanding display from Brent Symons helped save the day for the Heat, in what was possibly one of the best ever performances from a local Heat player.
His outstanding effort was recognised by the Big V League which placed him on the weekly ‘Blue Carpet’ for his 32-point performance.
The Azzco Engineering Lady Heat take on Westernport Steelers away tomorrow night, in what is a do-or-die clash for both teams.
Just like their male counterparts, the Lady Heat are also resilient, and have had to overcome their own set of distractions to play finals.
Their game against the rebuilding Werribee Devils came easy with a 47-point win. American import Alli Gloyd made the ‘Blue Carpet’ again with 27 points and 15 rebounds, while Vanessa Power (26 points) and Bronte Clark , RIGHT, (17 points) also played well.
Last weekend Westernport did Mildura a favour by beating Chelsea who were also in the hunt for a finals spot.
This is definitely a winnable game for the Lady Heat as their last two encounters against the Steelers have gone to the wire.
In their First Round clash Westernport won by a solitary point, and in the second game of the season, the Steelers secured victory by two points in time on.
Look to the Lady Heat to take this one out, and if Lady Heat coach Ian Sandiman can ensure his chargers give a four-quarter effort, they should have no worries.
“I can’t really put it into words, and I still haven’t fathomed what has happened,” she said. “Making history with the group we had, and finishing the way we did, I can’t really describe it.
“It feels like a dream, and it’s been a goal for the group since we started our 18-month venture, and for it to be actually done, it hasn’t sunk in yet.”
Playing against countries including Mexico, France and China, Jasmine said the world championships were an eye-opening experience.
“It was a really competitive environment to be in on and off the court,” she said. “Every meal you ate with the opposition you were sitting with French girls and the Canadians, every team that was in your pool.
“It was an intense environment, but it was fun at the same time, and it was one you didn’t want to leave.”
Praised by coach Shannon Seebohm for their selflessness and team-first attitude, Jasmine said her team deserves to be the best in the world.
“We really focussed on the team aspect of defence, which is what not many teams focus on,” she said. “That’s what the Opals (Australia’s senior women’s team) focus on and they are the best defensive team in the world, so we were like ‘if they can do it, why can’t we?’
“We had a lot of values and goals set before the tournament, and we made sure that the girls didn’t focus on personal statistics, because we are a team.”
Returning to the AIS next week, Jasmine said she’s considering a move to either the WNBL (Women’s National Basketball League) or an American College once she completes Year 12 in 2017.