Pioneers once again own the South Conference
For the third consecutive year, the Mt. Gambier Pioneers are South Conference champions and will now face either Albury-Wodonga or Geelong next weekend in their quest for back-to-back SEABL Championships.
Taking care of the Bendigo Braves for the second time in a fortnight, the Pioneers were led by Damian Johnson's 20 points, 14 rebounds, three steals and seven blocks. Those seven rejections came against six separate Bendigo players and helped the home side to a 42-28 advantage in the paint.
As they did in the Semi-Final, the Braves kept the margin close throughout the first half, taking a five-point lead early in the second quarter before trailing by just four at the main break.
They could not keep up with Mt. Gambier in a 16-26 third term though as Brad Hill scored 12 of his 18 while Johnson added eight for the quarter. Hitting a combined 13-23, Tom Daly (15 points) and Tyrone Lee (13) also reached double-figures and helped the Pioneers to 49% field goal shooting.
Bendigo's two most prominent scorers were shut down completely as Grant Johnson tallied 14 points while Tony Lewis could only muster eight on 4-16 shooting. He did pull down 14 rebounds and Josh Wilcher kept the scoreboard ticking over with 13 off the bench but it was not enough for the Braves to avoid a second defeat in the Conference Final in three years.
With a 22-4 record overall this year, Mt. Gambier will head into the Grand Final as favourites no matter their opponent but they will be slightly more vulnerable at a neutral venue.
In the women's competition, Bendigo and Kilsyth will face off for the South Conference title while Dandenong will host Geelong in the East Conference clash. All matches will be live-streamed and can be found here.