A strong offensive display led the Albury-Wodonga Bandits to their third victory of the season against the Hobart Chargers on Saturday night.
The 100-97 triumph was hallmarked by the continued improvement of rising stars Darcy Harding and Sawyer Dearborn, who played huge minutes in a high-pressure situation.
Both had the opportunity to step up after the Bandits made the difficult decision to release import Justin Browning late in the week.
Coach Brad Chalmers was proud of the effort and said the side was prepared prior to making the decision.
“They’re always tough calls to make, but I think it was in the best interests of the group,” Chalmers said.
“It’s one of those ones where we made it and we’re moving on.
“It was a really good win and we’ll focus on finding a replacement in the next week or so.
“I think we’ll take the best available player we can find that fits what we need.”
The loss of Browning clearly didn’t hamper the home side, with Dearborn, Harding and captain Jack Duck impressively combining for 44 points.
“They’re all more than capable and are really starting to grow and step up, particularly Sawyer and Darcy, who have taken a couple of years to get into it and you can see the benefits of a couple of years in the system,” Chalmers said.
“I’m really just rapt with how they’re going about it and Jack was good last night in support of TJ (Robinson) and Deba (George), who were really solid.
“I was really pleased with our offensive output and the confidence levels each guy brought.
“However, I think we turned the ball over 23 times which is very uncharacteristic of us, but other than that it was a good, solid win.
“We probably didn’t handle it great, but we were nine up with a couple of minutes to go and had enough in us to hold on and get the win.
“At the end of the day, we’ve got to work on some things defensively and continue to grind at it.
“We’ve got through a lot of the tough teams here and find ourselves in reasonable shape.”
The Bandits escape the clash completely unscathed with Joel Spear limited to just 10 minutes after injuring his ankle.
“It was fairly innocuous, it was a little pivot and the ankle made a little turn, it wasn’t a huge one I don’t think,” Chalmers said.
“Hopefully with treatment he’ll be able to get himself up at the back end of the week and be ready to go before the weekend starts.
“In the game of basketball, ankles and all those sorts of things are a pretty consistent theme of the niggles you get.”
The Bandits will need to be better again next weekend with a double-header on the road against Ballarat and Frankston.
Ballarat awaits on Saturday night, having won three of its first five, however, Frankston has just one win from its first seven and will meet the Bandits at 3pm on Sunday.