JARRYD MCGUANE THE ADVOCATE Supreme play from point guard Mason Bragg made sure the North-West Tall Timbers Thunder were able to split their SEABL round 13 Victorian road trip to keep their finals hopes alive.
Playing the Tigers at their hostile home base, the Thunder found their spark in the early stages and blew the lead out to 15 points by the first break.
The Tigers threatened to pull the game back in the third quarter, but the Thunder steadied with their season on the line.
Bragg exploded offensively with 32 points, while adding nine assists in his match-winning performance
He was ably assisted by captain Jeremiah Ingram with 19 points and sharp shooter Tre Armstrong with 15 points.
Deng Acouth top-scored for the Tigers with 20 points.
Thunder coach Sam Armstrong said the loss against the Braves helped the team regroup for the must-win contest against the Tigers.
“It was a really important win for us today after last night and we had some areas we discussed after the loss that we need to get better in today’s game and we addressed those,” Armstrong said.
“It was really pleasing the way the guys responded after last night and Mason did a really good job leading us from the front.”
In their first game of the road trip against Bendigo, the Thunder had their opportunities to take the game way from the hosts.
The visiting Thunder led by one point going into the last quarter and were within two points with just under four minutes to go, before the Brave broke away.
Armstrong was the Thunder’s top scorer with 22 points and Bragg and Lachlan Barker also finished in double figures with 17 points and 14 points respectively.
Jeremy Kendle was at his best for the Braves with 32 points and Ray Turner contributed 23 points.
Armstrong said Saturday’s result came about due to some issues his team faced and not because of how the Braves had played them.
“It was probably more what we did, than anything Bendigo did to beat us, we sort of beat ourselves over the course of the game.
“We got into foul trouble, had some costly decision-making errors on both ends of the floor and it was just that we did some things that didn’t allow us to get any momentum in the game.”
The 1-1 record over the weekend moved the Thunder to a 10-8 for the season to keep them narrowly inside the top eight. Having their finals destiny in their own control, Armstrong said the Thunder were solely focused on their upcoming game with Dandenong.
“It keeps us in the mix, it will be just be about us winning games now. Destiny will be in our own hands and we can only control what we can control and whatever happens around the league with other results is out of our control.”