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    Ararat Fitness and Leisure Centre was abuzz on Saturday afternoon for the first game of the Country Basketball League South-West season between Ararat Redbacks and Horsham Hornets. The Redbacks led by five-points at the first break before three consecutive quarters of almost 30 points by the Hornets saw the away side emerge 29-point victors. Ararat’s Jezza Woods, right, guards Horsham’s Austin McKenzie, who scored 26 points. Picture: KAREN REES

Horsham Hornets show depth against Ararat rivals

By Sean O’Connell

Horsham Hornets men have taken the spoils in the season’s first Western Highway derby, ahead of a busy weekend of games for Wimmera teams. 

The Hornets travelled to Ararat Fitness and Leisure Centre as favourites and showed their class against Ararat Redbacks in the Country Basketball League south-west conference. 

The Redbacks then travelled to meet Warrnambool Seahawks on Sunday and were defeated in a closer scoreline. 

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The Ararat team will follow up the losses with a home game against Mt Gambier Lakers, who sit second on the ladder, while the number-one ranked Hornets will travel to play Colac Kookas this weekend. 

Horsham Hornets women also travel to face the Kookas, after coming off a bye.

In Saturday’s match-up between Ararat and Horsham, the Redbacks got off to a quick start, taking a five-point lead at the first break. 

The Hornets’ breadth of scoring options allowed the away side back into the game, with offensive threats including Matthew Brown, 15, Ryan Pfitzner, nine, and Tarkyn Benbow, eight. 

Fletcher Burger contributed 18 points and DJ Woods found 16 for Ararat, but the Redbacks were unable to keep the Hornets at bay, who scored almost 30 points in each of the last three quarters. 

The Hornets men are first on the ladder after eight rounds. They have played an extra game than their closest rivals, Mt Gambier, but have also suffered one less loss. 

The Redbacks were able to sustain a challenge against Warrnambool Seahawks for the majority of the game in Sunday’s follow-up match. 

Ararat scored 48 points to the Seahawks’ 53 in the first three quarters before a late surge from the home side. 

Burger and Woods were again near the top of the scorers’ list for the Redbacks, but Blake Thomas’ 14 was the most of any in the team. 

The ability of the Redbacks to stay with the home side for much of the contest was one of the positives to come out of Sunday’s loss, as they look to climb out of eighth position on the ladder.

The Seahawks’ Riley Nicolson, 21, and Adam Lawson, 20, were dominant at the offensive end, indicating defence will continue to be an area of improvement for the Redbacks. 

Horsham Hornets women’s match-up against Colac Kookas comes after a weekend break, with the side having last played out a close loss to Warrnambool Mermaids. 

The Hornets reside in fifth place in the south-west women’s conference, but have played less games than two of the teams above them, including three less than Millicent Magic. 

The entire November 29, 2023 edition of The Weekly Advertiser is available online. READ IT HERE!

The entire November 29, 2023 edition of AgLife is available online. READ IT HERE!