Form reversal lands United in Grand Final

Experience: Mish Clarke moves the ball downcourt during the second game of Gippsland United's best-of-three semi-final series. United won the series 2-1 to qualify for the Big V Grand Final. Photograph Liam Durkin





DECENT turnaround.

Gippsland United Women went from the end of the plank to back on board the ship in the space of 24 hours.

Big V semi-finals were played in Traralgon over the weekend at the Gippsland Regional Indoor Sports Stadium.

Opposed to Surf Coast, the Gippsland girls were well beaten on Saturday night, leaving the best-of-three series tied at 1-1.

However, in a stunning form reversal, Gippsland United completely turned the tables on their opponents, winning comfortably on Sunday afternoon to progress to the Division 2 women’s Grand Final.

Those in attendance on Saturday night would have thought United looked the furthest thing from a team bound for a Grand Final.

Misdirected passes, easy rebounds and free throws not even hitting the net gave home supporters plenty of cause for concern in United’s 75-62 loss.

Even that scoreline flattered the Gippsland side, who let in 27, 22 and 21 points from quarter time onwards, after conceding just five in the first term.

At quarter time, things looked promising, as United led 13-5, but from there, the wheels started to wobble, before well and truly falling off.

Truthfully, about the only good thing to come out of the night was the courtside commentator announcing the Matilda’s had won and progressed to their semi-final.

United players were clearly frustrated, and a final rap sheet of 21 fouls to nine perhaps highlighted their clumsiness at times.

Adding to the frustration was captain and import MaKenzie Miller who has been battling the flu of late and only spent just over 20 minutes on the court, and most of the second half on the pine.

Perhaps the sight of Surf Coast players wearing mouthguards indicated their willingness to get physical, and they certainly had no trouble getting the ball back once it hit the United backboard, with 45 defensive rebounds – 10 more than United managed.

United players were quick to exit the court once the final whistle blew, more than likely shelving the performance as simply a tough night at the office.

As hard as Saturday night was to watch, United was able to put it all behind them the next day.

Picking themselves up and dusting themselves off, there was no denying Gippsland in the decider.

With a place in the Grand Final up for grabs, the home side blitz Surf Coast, scoring 31-15 in the first quarter.

From there, United was able to hold sway with their opponents, while maintaining a lead around the 10-15 point buffer, to eventually win 94-71.

Joanna Watson led the scoring for Gippsland, shooting 19 points, alongside Alahna Arnason (16) and Macey McGlead (14).

Emily Scholtes led United for assists with six, and at the other end of the court, Lauren Tuplin had eight defensive rebounds.

Gippsland United now takes on Wallan for the Big V flag and promotion.

The Grand Final is this Saturday, 7pm at the Gippsland Regional Indoor Sports Stadium.

Directing traffic: Traralgon’s Emily Scholtes sets up an assist for Gippsland United.