Who will it be, Moe or Traralgon?

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THE region can’t lose this weekend, as there will be an all-Latrobe Valley Grand Final in the Country Basketball League.

Moe Meteors and Traralgon T-Birds, the top two men’s teams, progressed to the big dance, while their affiliate women’s teams bowed out of the women’s race at the weekend.

Now 11 games into their seasons, Moe remain undefeated, while Traralgon hasn’t lost since their Round 3 encounter against Maffra Eagles.


THE Meteors survived an early scare to push into the Grand Final, winning the semi 93-91 against Warragul in what was one of the tightest games they had played all season.

The Warriors gave it to the Meteors, keeping up with them in the first quarter at Latrobe Leisure Moe/Newborough, going shot for shot, so much so that the scores were tied after the first quarter, at 22 apiece.

The following period still wasn’t so straightforward for Moe, who were clearly outplayed by the Warriors.

Warragul took a positive five-point lead into the halftime break, fuelled with confidence for the second half.

Moe had some work to do, and may have been in some unfamiliar territory, trailing at a break for the first time since Round 5 against Wonthaggi Coasters.

But just like they did in that game, Moe rallied, putting in the hard yards to then flip the script and lead by a point as the two sides entered the last quarter.

An all-important final quarter ensued, with both sides seeing the Grand Final within touching distance.

Back and forth followed throughout the term, but the undefeated Moe were not to be denied, capping off a brilliant second half performance.

The Meteors won the quarter by a point to only extend their winning margin to two, their smallest winning margin of the season.

You only need one guess to know who led Moe when they needed them – Austin Shelley.

Shelley was there for the Meteors once again, scoring more than a third of their total points – 34 to be exact.

He wasn’t the only one though, as Moe constructed their win with points from Thomas Portbury (19 points), Stephen O’Brien (18) and Ben van Dyk (10).


JOINING the Meteors will be Traralgon, after they hung on against Wonthaggi, winning 96-86 at Gippsland Regional Indoor Sports Stadium.

The T-Birds were off to the best of starts, scoring 30 first quarter points against Wonthaggi who managed 20.

The home side was helped by some ill-discipline from the Coasters, who were punished by way of awarding six free throws to Traralgon’s Ben Waller.

Waller nailed five of the six, which seemed to kick the T-Birds into gear.

But things soon began to fall the way of the Coasters, which led to an exciting finish.

The second term was tense, and the Coasters managed to drag the deficit back, but only marginally as Traralgon still had their noses in front by seven points at the half.

That advantage may have spurred them on just enough to continue to bring the game back on their terms, but Wonthaggi were still well and truly in the fight.

Traralgon got out to a 12-point lead at the end of the third quarter, before a high-scoring last quarter determined the grand finalists.

Wonthaggi impressively replied with 27 points in the final quarter, but with that rate of scoring, they had to hold the T-Birds to just 14 points or less to win.

Traralgon managed to secure a Grand Final berth, scoring 25 points in the last quarter.

Some big performances from a number of players allowed Traralgon to put the pedal to the metal, with 26 points from Zac Bezzina and 24 from Waller.

The other scorers were Ben Barlow (18 points), Kody Tibbals (13), Jarrod King-Church (10) and Bradley Watson (5).

Traralgon Coach, Logan Van Berkel said it was a hard-fought win against a highly-rated Coasters.

“We went away a little bit from what we wanted to achieve in terms of our action an offence, but we were able to call back, reset and have a timeout and sort of go again,” he said.

“We were able to maintain our composure and stay in it and obviously come up at the end of the first, which was a good response for us.”

Van Berkel noticed some similarities from their last encounter and used it to their advantage when needed.

“They (Wonthaggi) were up and about, they changed their defence a little bit, last time we come up against them they threw a bit of full-court pressure against us, we knew it was coming we just weren’t sure when – it caught us by surprise a little bit and we just had to adapt,” he said.

“Last time we played them it was very, very similar, we knew they were gonna come harder again, we just needed to take that next step up … we just needed to make sure we were there the whole time.”

Coming up against an undefeated Moe outfit doesn’t appear to faze Van Berkel and his Traralgon side, knowing they have the ability to pull it off in a Grand Final once again.

“We’ve done it the past two years and we plan on doing it again. Moe definitely are arch-rivals of ours, it always seems to be us and them pretty often.”


LOCALS weren’t so lucky in the women’s competition, with the opportunity for another all-Latrobe Valley Grand Final slipping.

Korumburra dealt the damage early and was able to hang on against a valiant Moe outfit, in a final scoreboard reading 78-73.

Despite it only being a one-point advantage at halftime, the home Wildcats really took it to the Meteors in the third quarter, turning a one-shot game into a 10-point lead.

That lead was indeed too far from Moe’s reach, as they could only manage to cut the deficit to five points before the final bell rung out.

Double digit performances from Miche Clarke (17 points), Joanna Watson (16), Piper Albert (14) and Danielle Davies (10) were not enough to get the Meteors over the line.

It was much of the same for the Traralgon women’s side, who nearly completed an almighty comeback on their home deck.

Wonthaggi nicked the lead in the opening quarter and ran away with the match, extending at every lead going from five points to 14 points ahead at halftime.

Traralgon were down by 15 points at the end of the third quarter, and with only 36 points to their name at this stage, a win looked unlikely.

But the T-Birds were inspired, and nearly doubled their score in just one quarter, scoring 27 points to Wonthaggi’s 16.

Evidently, it was not enough to secure a Grand Final berth, but enough to know they didn’t die trying, going down by four points, 63-67.

Sammy Labros led the line with 21 points – the most of anyone on the court, assisted well by Jordan Pyle with 16 points.