By EMMA WATSON
LATROBE City Energy’s BigV division one teams face playoffs this Saturday after the men and women each produced must-needed victories at the weekend.
Four consecutive losses saw the reigning premier drop to 10th place on the men’s cross conference ladder, before three-straight wins sealed their spot in the finals.
A home-win against Melbourne University on Saturday was expected for coach Les Stothard, who admitted this season had shown the team not to take anything for granted.
“(It was) probably a relief as much as anything, but in saying that the guys certainly deserve to play in finals,” Stothard said.
“We had a really even contribution; we had four or five guys in double figures again.
“When we are at our best, we are pretty hard to beat.”
With inconsistency and injuries making for an “indifferent year”, Stothard said the team had stepped up at the right time of year.
“Whether the mindset has changed (this year), (because) it was such as big thing to get over that hump and win that first title,” Stothard said.
“Now we’re there, the focus will be very different and we are hoping to see some much improved performances again.
“We will be confident we can get the job done, and hopefully continue on and give ourselves a chance of defending the championships.”
The men face Warrnambool in Warrnambool – a match Stothard said would have the boys preparing for a bigger-bodied team.
Meanwhile Andrew Harlow’s women find themselves in the same position they faced last year – heading to Mildura to play the team which ended their 2014 finals campaign.
A loss to Western Port on Saturday saw the girls regroup for a must-win match against Keilor at home on Sunday.
Harlow praised Tanarly Hood for her leadership all weekend and Carly Mullen-Bianconi for her form on Sunday.
He said Hannah Weedman was another standout among the group with 16 rebounds, 10 points and six blocked shots.
“The team played really well, we had 14 blocked shots on Sunday, which was a team record and the defensive work was what got us through,” Harlow said.
The women’s defensive structure will be their focus this weekend as they try to contain Mildura star player Vanessa Power.
“If we can contain her a little bit we’ll be well on the way,” Harlow said.
“We’ve had a very young group this year and I think for the experience of the girls, they’ve done a really good job to make the finals.
“They are getting a good bit of reward for the hard work they’ve put in.”