PAYBACK will be the buzz word in the Wodonga camp this week as the Wolves try to do what they couldn’t last season — beat the Shepparton Gators in the grand final.
The Wolves and Gators will clash in the CBL North East conference men’s decider on Saturday night at Wodonga Sports and Leisure Centre after winning their respective semi-finals at the weekend.
It will be a big week for the Border club, with the Lady Wolves to play the Gators in the women’s decider as well.
The Wolves blew Maryborough Blazers away in the second half of their home men’s semi-final to record a comfortable 87-48 triumph, while the Gators upset the Blasters at Seymour to keep their hopes of back-to-back crowns alive.
The Wolves also finished on top of their conference last season but blew home court advantage in the decider.
Wodonga coach Michael Hickey hopes history doesn’t repeat itself.
“Payback is already in the minds of a few of the guys who lost last year,” Hickey said.
“There’s probably only four remaining in the team from last year.
“The whole group is keen to get out there next Saturday and get it over and done with.”
Josh McKay was a shining light for the Wolves, netting 24 points, while Kyle McMullan, Trevor McLean and Heath Ohlin were also prolific around the basket.
The Wolves led 20-19 at quarter-time but by the long break they had extended their advantage to 20 points.
They were able to push the lead to 36 points at the last change, giving Hickey the chance to rotate his players to ensure valuable minutes were given to all players and to test combinations.
With Patrick Gleeson back for the grand final, Hickey faces an agonising decision of who to axe at selection on Thursday night.
“I can only play 12 and I’ve got 13 players; one will be an unhappy boy Saturday,” he said.
In the women’s game, the Lady Wolves withstood a late challenge to beat the Wangaratta Lady Warriors 54-48 to give themselves every chance at consecutive titles.
With Tenille Collins making her debut as head coach in the absence of Doug Polmear, the Lady Wolves jumped out of the blocks to take a 14-4 lead into quarter-time.
They extended the lead to 14 points at the long break but Wangaratta, with Larissa Laverty on target, hit back and with just two minutes left on the clock it got to within just six points.
Rachel Jeffery top-scored for the Lady Wolves with 15 points, while Tahnee Cannan and Alex Trezise were also impressive.
The Gators beat the Seymour Lady Blasters to book their spot in the women’s decider.
State finals will be held at Bendigo on February 16 and 17.