If you wanted a demonstration of the toughness of the Villawood Bendigo Spirit, then Wednesday night’s game against the Adelaide Lightning at Townsville was it.
The young Spirit side came back from three double-digit deficits to be only one shot away from taking the game into overtime, before going down 83-89.
In a topsy-turvy game, every quarter ebbed and flowed, with Adelaide going on scoring runs before the Spirit clawed their way back,
Partway through the first quarter, the Spirit was down 10-21, before fighting back to be 22-23 at the end of the term.
It was a similar story in the second quarter. Adelaide went on a 4-14 run in the first half of the term, jumping out to an 11-point lead.
The Spirit hit back yet again, to lead at half time 43-42, on the back of a huge half from Tessa Lavey (18 points) and Carley Ernst (13).
The Spirit had an amazing 12 offensive rebounds in the first half, showing yet again the intensity coach Tracy York has been calling for all season.
The Spirit started the third quarter in style, with six consecutive points by Lavey pushing the lead out to seven, the biggest of the night for the Spirit.
However, it was the Steph Talbot show for the rest of the third term, as the WNBA forward led the Lightning to a 59-61 lead at three-quarter time.
Adelaide came out of the blocks at the start of the final quarter, going on a 0-16 run in the first four and a half minutes.
From there, everyone wrote the Spirit off. But Lavey and young gun Demi Skinner had other ideas, leading a remarkable comeback.
With 6.7 seconds left in the game, the Spirit had fought back to be down by only 3, showing the WNBL world what they can do when their backs are to the wall.
It was a huge night from Lavey, who finished with a massive 33 points and six assists.
Ernst continued her big 2020 season with 22 points and 11 rebounds.
Skinner reignited her 2019/20 form with a big 17 points and three important offensive rebounds.
York was full of praise for the team.
“The girls responded in true Spirit fashion,” she said.
“Yes, they fell just short but also showed sticking to the process and game plan reaped good rewards.
“Tessa Lavey was inspirational tonight and Demi Skinner found her touch off the bench.“There was a lot to like about the girls’ effort tonight.”
The Spirit takes on the University of Canberra Capitals on Saturday night at 7.30pm Bendigo time.