The Warrnambool Mermaids have held on to end a six-year Big V division one championship drought with a nine-point victory over Casey Cavaliers in game three of the grand final series on Sunday.
The Cavaliers jumped out to a quick lead but the Mermaids held firm and fought back to lead for most of the contest.
The 67-58 victory was the Mermaids’ first division one victory since 2012. They lost game one in Warrnambool before securing a 15-point victory on Saturday night to send the best-of-three series to the final game.
The Mermaids completed a division one-two double after winning promotion from the second tier with a victory in 2017.
Warrnambool’s top women’s side returned from three years in recess last season.
Proud head coach Louise Brown said the victory would be a huge influence on basketball in the south-west.
“I feel like this is just the start of what we want to develop,” she said.
“We want to create a pathway for these young girls to aspire to and dream towards playing and representing their town and hopefully we inspire a lot of young girls to dream to do that.”
Brown said the two road games were different in styles but that her side was able to stand up when it counted.
“It was a great team effort today and the girls really dug deep,” she said.
“Today’s game was really different to last night’s. Last night seemed o be more free flowing and today was more physical.
“We had some tired legs and bodies. It’s a credit to the girls they dug deep and really grind out the win.”
Katie O’Keefe was Warrnambool’s top scorer with 21 points, while captain Amy Wormald (11) and Alana Strom (12) were influential under the net with 23 rebounds between them.
The playing coach credited fitness and poise as key factors in the Mermaids storming over the stop of the Cavs.
“We had really good runs in patches of the games just got over the top of them a bit,” she said.
“The poise that the girls showed and the expeirence of the players we have such as Katie O’Keefe, Amy Wormald and Holly Greene.
“Their poise and ability to remain calm and get good shots and good looks was second to none and that helped get us over the line.”
Wormald was named most valued player in the three-game series. The star Mermaid played in all three games averaging 16.6 points, 15 rebounds and 1.3 assists.
Brown praised Wormald for her outstanding finals series and year post match.
“She has been fantastic this finals series and today statistically she was quieter than games one and two,” she said.
“But defensively today she was awesome. She got a lot of big stops for us down the stretch and she was in foul trouble late in that final term.
“She has had a fantastic season and it’s a credit to the work she has put in and she got herself really fit and she has reaped the rewards for that.”
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