THE Warrnambool Mermaids are through to their third consecutive championship play-offs series after a 15-point win in front of a home crowd on Saturday night.
The defending champions got off to a slow start.
But the Mermaids came home strong to win their way through to the play-offs by taking down Latrobe City Energy 73-58. The home side opened its account in the first minute of the game with a free throw from Katie O’Keefe.
The team then maintained a 9-0 lead until half-way through the quarter.
A late flurry of shots from Latrobe City reduced the margin by two points with one minute left on the clock and they got within one point with 30 seconds remaining.
A free throw from O’Keefe and a three-point shot to Carly Pulling with 13 seconds left put the Mermaids five points (15-10) in front at quarter-time.
Mermaids coach Lester Pickett said the start was slower than usual. “I didn’t think we were playing that well, but now looking back I don’t think I was giving Latrobe enough credit,” a relieved Pickett told The Standard.
“They were putting us under pressure and were beating us at the board.
“They really made us work for it. I think there were a lot of nerves on the court.
“The girls were a bit scared of losing. It wasn’t our best or most polished game, so I think it was a relief for everyone to get across the line.”
Pickett said the Mermaids didn’t completely break through the Energy’s pressure until late in the second half.
“I called a time-out and said this is where we need to break through their pressure,” he said.
“The girls came out and blew the lead out to 13 points.
“They answered back with a few shots, but the three-pointer from Renee Tuck with three minutes left really put our nose in front.”