The Bendigo Bank Spirit have achieved what few WNBL rivals will do this season – sweep a Queensland road trip and gain the season split over the Townsville Fire and South East Queensland Stars.
The Spirit produced their best basketball of the season to thump the Fire 84-68 in Townsville on Friday night and then backed up with a 97-88 defeat of the Stars in Brisbane on Sunday.
It was a perfect weekend for the Spirit with the top three teams Perth, Sydney and Townsville all suffering defeats.
The results left the Spirit with a 9-5 record and lifted them to third place, with only Perth (9-4) and Sydney Uni (8-4) above them.
“I’m very proud of what the girls did. It was a great weekend for the club,’’ Spirit coach Simon Pritchard said.
“It was a moving weekend for us. The league is so even, there were four upsets across the league.
“We play Melbourne Boomers in Bendigo next weekend and that is no certainty for us. You have to play good basketball every week if you’re going to win.”
The highlight of the weekend was Belinda Snell’s effort in her 250th WNBL game on Friday night.
In a vintage Snell performance, she scored 26 points, including six three-point bombs, and dished out nine assists to lead the Spirit to victory.
Kelsey Griffin tormented the Fire again, adding 19 points and 14 rebounds, while Kelly Wilson had 18 points and four assists.
Sunday’s win against the Stars was built around a dominant first half.
The Spirit shot the ball at 61 per cent in the first half and established a 59-43 lead.
The Stars made a second half comeback and cut the deficit to three inside the final minute, but despite Griffin and Snell being in foul trouble, the Spirit held firm to score a crucial victory.
Gabe Richards was superb for the Spirit with 27 points, including nine in the final term. All of Griffin’s 20 points were scored in a brutal first half performance.
Snell capped her special weekend with another special effort – 21 points, including another five three-pointers, to go with 10 rebounds and eight assists.
“It was Snelly’s best weekend in her time with the club,’’ Pritchard said. “She was outstanding… she nearly had two triple-doubles.
“Our core players were fantastic. Kelly Wilson was brilliant, particularly against Townsville… she had the ball on a string.
“Gabe was huge today. She shot the ball at 13-18 from the field and made some big baskets in the last quarter.”