CHURCHILL Blue Devils’ men finished the Gippsland Country Basketball League season undefeated at home courtesy of a 74-62 win over Korumburra on Sunday, but the women fell 10 points short of victory with their season on the line.
Needing a win for a chance to break into the top four, the Churchill girls were unable to claw their way past the Wildcats, going down 69-59 in their final outing for the season.
Stacey O’Brien was brave for the Blue Devils, but her efforts weren’t enough to see her side home.
The club will be represented in finals competition by its men’s side, which finished third on the ladder after 14 rounds of home and away fixtures.
Rob Michaelides led the scoring against the Wildcats with 24, while Jesse Bowe recorded a double double with 13 points and 22 rebounds.
The Blue Devils will be without key men Vashon Weaver (knee) and Marcus Webb (forearm) for the finals series due to injury, but captain Nick Michaelides believes his side can rise to the occasion and defend the CBL crown.
“We will find a way to get the job done; we are still the champions until someone beats us,” he said.
Coach Jordan Canovan said the duo would, however, be sorely missed throughout the finals campaign.
“These are two big loses for the franchise; both are main contributors to our team on and off the court and there is not a player on this earth we could get to replace what they bring night in and night out for our ball club,” he said.
Churchill will be joined in the playoffs by cross town rivals Moe Meteors, who also disposed of Korumburra on Saturday 95-86 to finish fourth on the ladder.
Calvin Rees was impressive for the Meteors with 33 points, and received strong support from the reliable Nick Sedley with 20.
Steve Bonnaccini was the other main contributor with 13 points.
Moe’s women’s team filled out the same ladder position as their male counterparts, despite going down 61-49 to Korumburra.
Carly Mullen-Bianconi was the only Meteor to hit double figures with 12 points.