By Lance Jenkinson
Werribee Devils handed a young and inexperienced Warrnambool Mermaids a harsh lesson in a thumping 92-35 win on the road at The Arc Sports Stadium in the Big V basketball women’s state championship on Saturday night.
The Devils gained more out of the long road trip itself than the result of the top-versus-bottom clash, with the six-hour round journey on the bus bringing the team even closer together.
Devils coach Reece Potter said time on the road didn’t have to be a chore.
“One of the positives for the group with a trip to Warrnambool is the amount of time you spend together on the bus,” he said.
“There’s that bit of team bonding you might not have on your normal home games or in greater Melbourne, where everyone drives themselves.”
Against Warrnambool, Werribee was as ruthless as it has been all season.
The Devils were well in advance of the Mermaids on the scoreboard by the end of the first period, leading by 21.
They led 56-13 by half-time, before Warrnambool put up some resistance in the second half to ensure the deficit did not creep too close to triple figures.
Potter was sympathetic to the Mermaids, who are 0-12 and stuck at the foot of the table.
“It’s good to come away with a strong result, but Warrnambool are really struggling this year,” he said.
“They certainly competed and had a go, but they had a really young team on court. We were a little bit too polished for them in the end.”
To keep his Werribee players engaged during the comfortable win, Potter deployed his players in shorter shifts and gave extra minutes to his depth players. The Devils also took the chance to ease the workload on the starting five, with a crucial month of basketball ahead as they try to preserve their spot at the top of the ladder.
“It was three or four minute bursts at most and then a sub, so people were pretty fresh most of the time,” Potter said.
Import Alisia Jenkins was outstanding for Werribee with 26 points, 14 rebounds and five assists. Jenkins compiled that impressive stat line in just 25 minutes.
Sarah Elsworthy, with 14 points, and Sam Moodie, with a double-double 12 points and 10 rebounds, were other key contributors.
Werribee, 11-1 and a game clear on top, will host McKinnon Cougars (5-7) at Eagle Stadium on Saturday evening.
In men’s state championship, Werribee Devils were beaten in both games on a double-header weekend.
The Devils were toppled 114-81 by Blackburn Vikings at Eagle Stadium on Saturday night, then went down to Hume City Broncos 126-94 away on Sunday.