STOP Katie O’Keefe, stop Warrnambool Mermaids.
Latrobe City Energy coach Joe Brouns knows it won’t be as simple as that if the Energy are to win tomorrow’s Big V division one women preliminary final.
But the veteran coach is canny enough to realise O’Keefe is the player to shut down when the squad makes the six-hour trip to Warrnambool.
The Mermaids and Energy clash in a must-win preliminary final at The Arc, with the winner booking a spot in the best-of-three grand final series.
“We’re very aware of who we’re up against and what we’ve go to do,” Brouns said.
“Definitely Katie O’Keefe is the player I think we need to tone down a bit.
“She’s going to score. She’s one player we’ll have to adjust to, to give us a good show.
“If there is one player we need to keep our eye on, she’s the one, but there are any number of other kids who can stand up and play well.”
The Warrnambool-Latrobe preliminary final shapes as one of the most intriguing Big V finals of the weekend.
The Mermaids took the points in a thriller at The Arc in round eight, 69-65, but almost gave up a 38-23 half-time lead — and the Energy has improved since.
The Traralgon-based side has lost once since round 10 and defeated former title fancy Altona 78-67 at home last weekend. “Our defensive pressure was fantastic,” Brouns said of the semi-final win.
“To keep a team to under 70 points in a final, that have been playing well enough to score over 70 is outstanding.
“Our work ethic to stop the ball, our work ethic to boss the rebounds, was fantastic.
“And our offence seemed to flow a little bit. We don’t have too many problems scoring, but stopping opposition teams is the hardest.”
Brouns said he was rapt Latrobe had made finals with one of the youngest playing lists in the competition.
He said winning a final in front of a roaring home crowd was “exceptional” but the side would not leave anything to chance having made the preliminary final.