THE Warrnambool Seahawks will be given a night off training and urged to relax during this weekend’s bye after they maintained an unbeaten home-court record on Saturday night.
A dominant final term lifted the Seahawks to an 85-72 win over Warrandyte Venom in their Big V division one match at Warrnambool Stadium. It was the Seahawks’ eighth win from 11 matches this season, entrenching them in the Terrill Conference top two.
Coach Bobby Cunningham said his players had earned a break following the come-from-behind 13-point win.
They will train lightly tomorrow night and then be given a week away from the game until next Tuesday.
But Cunningham expects his players to return refreshed and hungry for a challenging eight-game run into the finals.
“We won a few games before we had our first bye but then after our first bye we got blown away by 20 points,” he said.
“I don’t want that happening again.”
Cunningham said the club’s focus was not on finals but its next opponent, Camberwell, on the road.
“We are not about the big picture thing and saying we want to win five out of our next eight games to make the finals. We’re getting ready for Camberwell and we’ll see what happens. Right now when you are winning, you have to keep the lid on it. It’s one game at a time.”
The Seahawks, coming off a four-point loss to Geelong Supercats last Sunday, found themselves two points down at quarter-time on Saturday night, square at half-time and then four-points adrift of the Venom at the last change.
In a dramatic turnaround, the Seahawks scored 32 points to 15 in a decisive final period.
Cunningham said guard Damian Gray turned the game in his side’s favour.
“Damian Gray was the catalyst,” the coach said.
“He decided ‘I’m going to make their point guard work’. Damian Gray by himself took Warrandyte out of everything they wanted to do, causing steals, slowing them down. He made them struggle to get the ball over half-court by himself.”
He said Gray’s influence wasn’t reflected on the stats sheets. He only scored two points but his defensive pressure was criticial.
Cunningham said he and young forward James Mitchell’s shooting late in the match underlined their emerging talents.
“This their second, third years. They are starting to work out what they can and can’t do in this league.”
The match was tight with Warrandyte limiting the Seahawks’ scoring opportunities through a series of defensive game plan changes. The Venom’s defensive pressure and ability to change from zones to man-on-man regularly prevented the Seahawks from getting momentum, Cunningham said.
But in the last quarter the Seahawks were able to break the shackles, largely from free-throws.
The Venom, in a bid to buy time and get back into the game, racked up 14 fouls in the final term, sending the Seahawks to the line 25 times, where they made 18 of their 32 points. Import Sai’Quon Stone scored a game-high 25 points and former coach Tim Gainey 24.