Launceston Tornadoes cop tough defeat to unbeaten Bendigo Braves

MASTER PLAN: Launceston coach Derrick Washington was ready to move on from Saturday night's defeat to Bendigo in pursuit of a road win over Melbourne Tigers.
MASTER PLAN: Launceston coach Derrick Washington was ready to move on from Saturday night's defeat to Bendigo in pursuit of a road win over Melbourne Tigers.

It was a game that coach Derrick Washington called “a real learning curve”.

So the 95-81 loss could not have come at a better time for the Launceston Tornadoes.

Washington had his first glance at Bendigo and the Braves showed why they are topping the SEABL standings with 16 wins without defeat.

“My hat’s off to Bendigo – they’re one heck of a solid team,” Washington said.

“They make you pay.”

That could not be more evident in Saturday night’s clash at Bendigo than from a couple of damning statistics.

Launceston picked up 18 steals to seven for the hosts.

But Tornadoes could only score 17 points from the high number of steals whereas the Braves lived up to their name for 18 cheap points.

Bendigo still turned the ball over 22 times to 13, but the win after quarter-time never really looked in doubt.

“We just have to capitalise off our steals and make more shots,” Washington added.

“Then we know we’ve got a ball game.”

Launceston fought back late in the first term to take an encouraging 22-20 lead.

But a 32-point second term from the Braves turned the deficit into a strong 15-point advantage at the long break.

“You can’t have quarters like that,” Washington said.

“My whole focus this year is playing four solid quarters.

“In that second quarter, we dug us a hole. You can’t do that against a team that is undefeated and a team with a lot of experience.”

Bendigo centre Gabrielle Richards amassed 36 points to kill off the contest early.

Captain Kelly Wilson controlled the pace of the game to ensure the Tornadoes rarely closed the margin to single figures after half-time.

But Washington was far from aggrieved afterwards.

“They’ve got such a nice solid group of experience players on that Bendigo team,” Washington said.

“They just gel well together and we’re still getting better.

“At the end of the day and I always say this, but I am very proud of the girls because we’re going to get better.

“That’s what I still like about our team’s chances.”

Star Lauren Nicholson attacked the basket with 25 points, Courtney Williams was strong with 15, as Lauren Mansfield and Ally Wilson added 13 points each.