Kereama reflects on season after final-round heartbreak

27 February 2024 | Bendigo Spirit news

Bendigo Spirit head coach Kennedy Kereama admits it’s a “bitterly disappointing” feeling to miss out on finals after a tough loss to Perth Lynx at home to finish the season.

In what Kereama described as a game of two halves, the Spirit came out all guns blazing, leading by as much as 16 points, before the visitors stormed home after half-time at Red Energy Arena to prevail 93-74.

In a must-win game for both teams, it the was Lynx snatching a play-offs spot and ending Bendigo’s stunning five-game run in the process.

The Lynx (fourth), Sydney Uni Flames (fifth) and Spirit (sixth) all finished the regular season with 11-10 records, with head-to-head ratings between the three teams deciding who went through.

Kereama said having a winning record felt like an “empty win” after the team didn’t achieve what they set out to this season.

With several key players including captain Kelsey Griffin sidelined during the early rounds, the Spirit lost their first four games which came back to haunt them.

“It’s sometimes hard to find a silver lining in a time like this,” Kereama said.

“It’s an empty win because I know we’ve had more wins than losses but that’s not what we do this for, we do this to play finals basketball.

“That was the goal, that’s what we’re striving towards so not to get there was bitterly disappointing.

“Again, I think a couple of wins early in the season could’ve helped us and having healthy people and the right time makes a difference.”

Guard Ally Wilson echoed her coach’s sentiment, conceding it “really stings” to miss out after such a strong finish to the season.

“This one stings to be there come finals time, especially on the run we were having, winning five in a row,” Wilson said.

“It felt like we were just building and making a real push into finals so this one really stings because that’s where you want to be, playing finals basketball.”

After a delayed start to the season due to injury, Griffin finished as the Spirit’s leader in points per game (15.9), rebounds (7.7) and steals (1.4).

Alicia Froling and Abbey Wehrung were recognised for the impressive campaigns with Sixth Woman of the Year nominations at last week’s WNBL MVP Awards, but were overlooked in favour of Southside’s Leilani Mitchell.

Bendigo Spirit – 2023-24 stats leaders

Points: Kelsey Griffin (15.9 per game)

Rebounds: Kelsey Griffin (7.7 per game)

Assists: Ally Wilson (5.1 per game)

Steals: Kelsey Griffin (1.4 per game)

Blocks: Ruth Davis (1.3 per game)