Source: Bendigo Advertiser
杭州桑拿

The Bendigo Bank Spirit is the toast of Bendigo after claiming a historic Women’s National Basketball League championship yesterday.

The Bernie Harrower-coached Spirit had all the answers against the Townsville Fire, running out 71-57 winners at Bendigo Stadium.

A capacity crowd of about 3000 people witnessed the Spirit gain the respect it has been craving since its inception six seasons ago.

Bendigo was hot favourite to secure its first championship against the in-form Fire and controlled much of the game.

The Spirit’s three biggest stars did the damage, led by US import Kelsey Griffin, who was named Most Valuable Player for her 20 points and 11 rebounds. Bendigo stalwart Gabe Richards put the exclamation point on a career-best season with 20 points and eight rebounds.

Spirit champion Kristi Harrower, probably playing her last game, sunk 11 points to go with her five assists and five rebounds.

The grand final win completed a fairytale season for the Spirit, just one year after the club came close to folding due to debt.

Aubry, Richards savour Spirit title

Chelsea Aubry has never been one for much fanfare.

Always happy to put the team first, the Canadian international yesterday slipped quietly into retirement as an Olympian and now WNBL champion.

“At the moment, that’s my last game,” Aubry said. “I said after the (London) Olympics I said I wasn’t going to play any more.

“But I came back to Bendigo and I thought ‘why not?’ I’ll probably never be this fit again, the group of girls are back and they’re great and we added a couple of new ones, but this is my last go round.

“I’ve played so much basketball, you never get tired of the competition, you never get tired of the game, but the time commitments, the travelling – I’ve had enough of that.

“It’s been a great run for me to go out on the Olympics and a WNBL grand final.”

An integral piece of the Spirit puzzle for four seasons, Aubry showed how hard she will be to replace yesterday.

The 28-year-old forward grabbed five rebounds and drained 11 points – including a crucial buzzer beater on three-quarter time – to ensure she and the Spirit finished 2012-13 on a high.

“It’s very special, I think because I never though this would happen – especially when I signed up for this year,” Aubry said.

“To do it with such great girls and coaching staff, the way that we played we should be proud.

“It’s up there with the Olympics, I’ve never won anything – I’ve never actually been in a grand final.

That atmosphere was one of the best atmospheres I’ve ever been in.”

The Spirit’s star centre Gabe Richards echoed Aubry’s comments.

“I’ve played in front of 6000 people in college, but to do it in front of people that know us and what we do and what we’ve achieved this year was awesome,” she said.

“This is a very special team and one that we didn’t have to put a lot of effort in to becoming a team, we just gelled from the start. It’s just been an amazing ride this year.”

After a career-best WNBL season, Richards brought her best to the grand final to finish with 20 points at 60 per cent from the field, eight rebounds and three assists.

Having experienced the thrill of a WNBL championship, she’s keen to return for the Spirit next season.

“Absolutely – if we can get the majority of the girls back why wouldn’t you want to go again after that feeling?” she said.

Bendigo Spirit react after defeating Townsville Fire in Sunday’s WNBL grand final. Picture: Julie Hough

WNBL grand final. Bendigo Spirit defeat Townsville Fire 71-57. Picture: Jodie Donnellan

WNBL grand final. Bendigo Spirit defeat Townsville Fire 71-57. Picture: Jodie Donnellan

WNBL grand final. Bendigo Spirit defeat Townsville Fire 71-57. Picture: Jodie Donnellan

WNBL grand final. Bendigo Spirit defeat Townsville Fire 71-57. Picture: Jodie Donnellan

WNBL grand final. Bendigo Spirit defeat Townsville Fire 71-57. Picture: Jodie Donnellan

WNBL grand final. Bendigo Spirit defeat Townsville Fire 71-57. Picture: Jodie Donnellan

WNBL grand final. Bendigo Spirit defeat Townsville Fire 71-57. Picture: Jodie Donnellan

WNBL grand final. Bendigo Spirit defeat Townsville Fire 71-57. Picture: Jodie Donnellan

WNBL grand final. Bendigo Spirit defeat Townsville Fire 71-57. Picture: Jodie Donnellan

WNBL grand final. Bendigo Spirit defeat Townsville Fire 71-57. Picture: Jodie Donnellan

WNBL grand final. Bendigo Spirit defeat Townsville Fire 71-57. Picture: Jodie Donnellan

WNBL grand final. Bendigo Spirit defeat Townsville Fire 71-57. Picture: Jodie Donnellan

WNBL grand final. Bendigo Spirit defeat Townsville Fire 71-57. Picture: Jodie Donnellan

WNBL grand final. Bendigo Spirit defeat Townsville Fire 71-57. Picture: Jodie Donnellan

WNBL grand final. Bendigo Spirit defeat Townsville Fire 71-57. Picture: Jodie Donnellan

WNBL grand final. Bendigo Spirit defeat Townsville Fire 71-57. Picture: Jodie Donnellan

WNBL grand final. Bendigo Spirit defeat Townsville Fire 71-57. Picture: Jodie Donnellan

WNBL grand final. Bendigo Spirit defeat Townsville Fire 71-57. Picture: Jodie Donnellan

WNBL grand final. Bendigo Spirit defeat Townsville Fire 71-57. Picture: Jodie Donnellan

WNBL grand final. Bendigo Spirit defeat Townsville Fire 71-57. Picture: Jodie Donnellan

WNBL grand final. Bendigo Spirit defeat Townsville Fire 71-57. Picture: Jodie Donnellan

WNBL grand final. Bendigo Spirit defeat Townsville Fire 71-57. Picture: Jodie Donnellan

WNBL grand final. Bendigo Spirit defeat Townsville Fire 71-57. Picture: Jodie Donnellan

WNBL grand final. Bendigo Spirit defeat Townsville Fire 71-57. Picture: Jodie Donnellan

WNBL grand final. Bendigo Spirit defeat Townsville Fire 71-57. Picture: Jodie Donnellan

WNBL grand final. Bendigo Spirit defeat Townsville Fire 71-57. Picture: Jodie Donnellan

WNBL grand final. Bendigo Spirit defeat Townsville Fire 71-57. Picture: Jodie Donnellan

WNBL grand final. Bendigo Spirit defeat Townsville Fire 71-57. Picture: Jodie Donnellan

WNBL grand final. Bendigo Spirit defeat Townsville Fire 71-57. Picture: Jodie Donnellan

WNBL grand final. Bendigo Spirit defeat Townsville Fire 71-57. Picture: Jodie Donnellan

WNBL grand final. Bendigo Spirit defeat Townsville Fire 71-57. Picture: Jodie Donnellan

WNBL grand final. Bendigo Spirit defeat Townsville Fire 71-57. Picture: Jodie Donnellan

WNBL grand final. Bendigo Spirit defeat Townsville Fire 71-57. Picture: Jodie Donnellan

WNBL grand final. Bendigo Spirit defeat Townsville Fire 71-57. Picture: Jodie Donnellan

WNBL grand final. Bendigo Spirit defeat Townsville Fire 71-57. Picture: Jodie Donnellan

WNBL grand final. Bendigo Spirit defeat Townsville Fire 71-57. Picture: Jodie Donnellan

WNBL grand final. Bendigo Spirit defeat Townsville Fire 71-57. Picture: Jodie Donnellan

WNBL grand final. Bendigo Spirit defeat Townsville Fire 71-57. Picture: Jodie Donnellan

WNBL grand final. Bendigo Spirit defeat Townsville Fire 71-57. Picture: Jodie Donnellan

WNBL grand final. Bendigo Spirit defeat Townsville Fire 71-57. Picture: Jodie Donnellan

WNBL grand final. Bendigo Spirit defeat Townsville Fire 71-57. Picture: Jodie Donnellan

WNBL grand final. Bendigo Spirit defeat Townsville Fire 71-57. Picture: Jodie Donnellan

WNBL grand final. Bendigo Spirit defeat Townsville Fire 71-57. Picture: Jodie Donnellan

WNBL grand final. Bendigo Spirit defeat Townsville Fire 71-57. Picture: Jodie Donnellan

WNBL grand final. Bendigo Spirit defeat Townsville Fire 71-57. Picture: Jodie Donnellan