By Lance Jenkinson
Werribee Devils have scaled the highest peak in the Big V Basketball women’s state championship.
The Devils did what some thought impossible and end the era of dominance by back-to-back defending champions Sunbury Jets.
The brave Devils ventured to the Boardman Stadium as underdogs for the preliminary final on Saturday night and returned with a memorable 77-74 win.
They have set up a showdown with Keilor Thunder in a best-of-three grand final series starting at Eagle Stadium this Saturday night for the right to be crowned the new champions.
Corey Michailidis, standing in as coach of the Devils for the first time while Reece Potter is overseas on national representative coaching duty, described ecstatic scenes in the Devils rooms following the upset victory.
“I can’t put into words how incredible it is what they’ve achieved,” Michailidis said.
“The scenes in the locker rooms and the energy was incredible.
“Sunbury were very much the team to beat throughout the year and we were always going to be the underdogs.
“Everyone was ecstatic to win on their home court.”
Werribee had planned meticulously for a tight finish.
The Devils’ training all week leading up to the big game was focused on executing in late game situations.
The repetition paid off huge dividends in the dying stages of the cut-throat preliminary final.
“Throughout the week, Reece made sure that the assistant coaches and the players were all on board with how we wanted to play,” Michailidis said.
“We were expecting a close contest from the outset, we knew it was going to be a tough 40 minute game and during the week we rehearsed a few different scenarios that we thought we might find ourselves in during the game and it was actually quite easy getting into late game mode when the time came.
“We scripted it and that made it easier, so full credit to Reece for that one.”
Werribee produced one of its best team performances of the season to down Sunbury.
The Devils had no standout individuals, but many contributors.
“Across the board, it was an incredible team effort,” Michailidis said.
Sam Moodie was lauded for presence in the game.
Moodie only scored eight points, but her energy on the defensive end and talk on the bench was crucial in a pressure-cooker situation.
“The great thing about Moodie is whether she’s on or off the court, she never checks out of the game,” Michailidis said.
Maxine Allan was similarly full of life, up in the face of Sunbury’s key players.
Allan capped her strong performance with 19 points, including four threes.
“She had a tough cover in [Geralynn] Leaupepe, who is always dominant for Sunbury,” Michailidis said.
Alexyz Vaioletama had a huge second half for Werribee to finish with 18 points and 11 rebounds, while Alisia Jenkins scored 10 points to go with nine rebounds.
Werribee is champing at the bit to get hold of Keilor Thunder in what should be a tight and entertaining grand final series.