By Lance Jenkinson
Werribee Devils have stumbled in the Big V Basketball women’s state championship.
The Devils have lost three of their past four games to fall from top spot to fourth in quick time.
Devils coach Reece Potter is hoping the learnings out of their form slump will hold his team in good stead once the playoffs arrive.
“There’s some key learnings to take away and improve on as we go into finals,” he said.
“I certainly think we have to get better in tight games.
“We haven’t had many tight games this year and that showed against Hume City, where we sort of fell over in the end.”
Werribee was in the box seat against Hume City Broncos on Saturday night, but fell away dramatically in the dying minutes.
The Devils conceded 22-6 in the last seven minutes to make it back-to-back losses.
They had led by eight at one stage in the fourth.
“We were in a good spot and basically [Hume City captain] Nicole Zammit beat us one-versus-five,” Potter said.
“We need to be better in those situations and control the game and execute.
“We have too many break down defensively and not disciplined and on the same page.”
Werribee’s two most recent losses came without import Alisia Jenkins.
Jenkins has been sidelined with a knee injury after sustaining a knock in the win over Keilor Thunder on June 30.
Her absence has left a massive hole in the team as she was averaging 25 points and 13 rebounds per game.
Potter will not rush his star player back.
“Initially we thought it would be a pretty quick return, but the hope now is she’ll be back for finals, but it’s a wait and see approach at the moment,” he said.
“We’re obviously very hopeful and she’s doing everything she can to put herself in the best spot to come back, but we’ve got to wait for the medical advice.”
Jenkins’ absence has given others the chance to step up and Alexys Vaioletama was Werribee’s dominant force against Hume City.
Vaioletama finished with 19 points, 11 rebounds, six assists, three steals and two blocks in an impressive performance.
“That’s the sort of potential we’ve known she’s had and we’ll need that going into finals,” Potter said.
“I stayed on her about being aggressive and taking open shots because she’s got all the attributes and all the skill package.
“She did a really good job of coming out and being aggressive and being a great leader for us.”
Foul trouble restricted Werribee’s starting point guard Sarah Elsworthy to just 20 minutes.
Maxine Allan did a superb job filling in, but when Elsworthy was put back into the game late on, she could not find her rhythm.
“Having Sarah in foul trouble really hurt us,” Potter said.
Werribee will be hoping to halt its losing slide when it hosts winless Warrnambool Mermaids at Eagle Stadium on Saturday at 6.30pm.
In men’s state championship, Werribee Devils featured in two nail-biters on a double header weekend. The Devils earned a split, winning 122-117 over Hume City Broncos on Saturday night, but losing 90-85 to Keilor Thunder on Sunday.
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