Launceston Tornadoes booked a place in next weekend’s SEABL decider with an electric 10-point take down of Nunawading at a sold-out Elphin Sports Stadium on Saturday night.
After falling at the penultimate stage in the past two seasons, Derrick Washington’s “girls” produced a dogged performance to record a 75-65 preliminary final victory.
They showed a lot of toughness and grit.Derrick Washington
There were scenes of jubilation post match with the crowd of 1100 fans jumping and screaming for joy knowing they will have a chance to defeat Bendigo Braves for a second time this finals series in the championship match.
The Torns will not be the only Tasmanian outfit to feature next weekend, with the Hobart Chargers advancing through to the men’s decider on Friday night.
“I’m just so excited,” an emotional Washington said in the aftermath.
“I’m so happy for these lady Torns, they came out and executed what we needed to do offensively and defensively – they showed a lot of toughness and grit.”
Torns American import Courtney Williams was ruled out pre-game with injury but the hosts got off to the near-perfect start with Ally Wilson putting on a clinic.
Launceston started with seven unanswered points with Ellie Collins switched on and Emma Haywood was at her defensive best.
Wilson sunk 15 points – including a three from beyond the line in the final 90 seconds of the opening term –to give her side a 26-15 advantage.
Stand-in skipper MVP Lauren Nicholson became more involved in the second period with the Torns adding a further seven points to push the margin out to a game-high 18 points, before the Spectres’ top arsenal in Izzy Chilcott, Vanessa Panousis, Jacinta Vandenberg and Jacqueline Trotto began to wrestle back control in the visitors’ favour.
Nunawading lost the period by two points to trail 45-39 at half-time and reduced the deficit to eight points by the end of the third as they piled on 18 points to 13.
Their defensive pressure lifted and had the Tornadoes under the pump, however, Launceston’s top dogs continued to hold them out with several crucial plays going their way.
Nicholson (26 points, 12 rebounds and four assists) and Wilson (23 points, 13 rebounds and eight assists) split best-on-court honours with the pair mastering three-point shots.
“My girls had to had to fight through adversity in that third, going into the fourth and they were able to carry it out,” Washington said.
“Everybody played well. I loved the fans’ support and I appreciated everybody turning out.
“We have to enjoy this moment and we will look at next week tomorrow.”
Skipper Lauren Mansfield missed out due to an Opals world cup selection camp but is expected to be a massive inclusion for the big one.
Next Saturday in Melbourne
- Women’s finale: Bendigo Braves v Launceston Tornadoes
- Men’s finale: Hobart Chargers v Nunawading Spectres