Launceston Tornadoes show grit to reach SEABL south conference grand final

MY WORD: Launceston Tornadoes coach Richard Dickel has restored faith back in his side during the post-season finals. Picture: Scott Gelston
MY WORD: Launceston Tornadoes coach Richard Dickel has restored faith back in his side during the post-season finals. Picture: Scott Gelston

Coach Richard Dickel and form star Lauren Nicholson had sound out the Tornadoes warning to find Dandenong Rangers not listening. 

For the second straight week, Launceston pulled back a sizeable deficit to finish the stronger in a near repeat do-or-die road final.

But the 83-78 comeback win forced the visitors to step up to another level after its thrilling end in Hobart.

The Tornadoes on Sunday again trailed early, falling behind just over two minutes into the SEABL preliminary final and not hitting the front again until entering the final seven minutes of the game.

Dickel had forecast changes were happening off the back of three regular season losses to now feel content to have placed faith in his team. 

“Again, we played very well in the second half, but they hit a whole lot of shots in the second half to put us behind the eight-ball,” he said.

“Again, we never panicked down the stretch and dealt with our plans with foul trouble at certain points in time, so the girls did a great job.”

The conference minor premier, which were without three from their best lineup, stretched the margin out to 12 points twice during the first and third quarters until settling into five-point leads at the final two breaks.

Dickel felt the tide always was going to swing around should the Tornadoes remain flexible with their plans.

“When you get away to a good start, generally it can turn some ways,” he said.

“They were playing so well at the start and I just didn’t think they could continue it for the whole game.

“We made some adjustments defensively that were pretty good.

“When Lauren (Mansfield) got her fourth foul pretty early in the third quarter, our other girls stepped up and did a great job.”

Nicholson was brilliant in back-to-back finals to notch up 25 points and nine rebounds and on the same page with her coach that the Torns, after an up-and-down season, are finding the formula to win big games.

The new-founded confidence allowed Tayla Roberts to play the entire 40 minutes in glimpses back into her early-season form, finishing on Sunday with 21 points and 17 rebounds.

Add the injury-returning Ellie Collins scoring a vital 12 points, Bec Abel shooting strongly for eight and Emma Haywood with seven, the character-building performance has now earned the Torns a place in the last four of the SEABL.

“It’s just part of the growth of this team to really be honest,” Dickel said.

“They’re very resilient to be through what they’ve been through this year.

“We’re now learning to make adjustments on the fly that we weren’t doing three or four games ago and doing what we’re doing a lot better.

“That’s really the turnaround the girls are taking on board to understand the adjustments we have to make at certain points of time.”