4 February, 2024
Hornets through to the Grand Final
The Hornets men are through to the Country Basketball League Grand Final following a seven-point win over Portland at Horsham Basketball Stadium on Saturday night.
With a packed stadium cheering them on, the 0-2 record against Portland this year wasn't an issue for the Hornets, as Mitch Martin was landing the three-pointers early with Max Bryan, Austin McKenzie, Cody Bryan and Matt Brown all sensational to help the Hornets to a 27-23 lead at quarter time.
The Hornets scored 21 points to Portland's 14 in the second quarter with Damian Skurrie and Jake Hobbs joining in on the action with four and two points respectively to guide the Hornets to a 48-37 lead at half-time.
In the third quarter, Portland came hard, but the Hornets stayed true, extending the lead to 11 points at three-quarter time.
Portland charged at the Hornets in the last quarter to get within four points, but the Hornets stuck to their game plan withstanding the fightback to win 84-77 to book themselves a grand final berth at home next Saturday against Mt Gambier, who easily disposed of Warrnambool by 20 points.
Cody Bryan led the Hornets with 22 points, whilst Mitch Martin 17, coupled with Austin McKenzie and Matthew Brown with 16 a-piece in a shared performance.
Coach Scott Benbow was ecstatic after the win.
"It's unreal. We got a good start and it set us up for the game," Benbow said.
"It was good to see Mitch get his confidence early and Cody was up and about and it was a bit of a shootout which helped."
The last time they played Portland they had a comfortable lead and when Portland came storming back in the last quarter, Benbow praised the team for sticking to the task.
"With five minutes to go we called that timeout just to get some experience on the court," Benbow explained.
"Matt Lovel was very good in that last quarter. I took Max Bryan out and put Matt in just to steady things. The younger boys were amazing at getting us the lead but we needed a bit of a father figure on the court.
"We had a reset and I told them to trust the process and don't rush the ball. Matt Brown stepped up and made some critical baskets which was great to see."
When asked about the shared shooting between four players, Benbow said it was excellent.
"We have talked about it all year that the ball needs to go through different hands to make it hard on the opposition and it worked. I was very happy," Benbow said.
Unfortunately, the ladies ended their season with a 63-87 point loss against Portland in Portland. Emalie Iredell led the way with 25 points.
With an abundance of youth, the Hornets will learn from the experience and will be challenging in years to come.