IT was a physical contest between the Ararat Redbacks and the Stawell Wildcats on Sunday, with several players stepping up and demonstrating what they were capable of.
Round four of the Country Basketball League saw the two sides meet for the first time this season.
The travelling Redbacks came out triumphant with an 81-point win over the Wildcats, who scored 52 points for their side.
While the Redbacks were fresh from a 32-point loss to Mount Gambier Lakers the night before they were in good form on Sunday, with William Lawrie starting up the scoreboard with the first shot.
Redbacks coach Marcus Jenkins said he was very pleased with the way the team was coming together.
"We're happy with the win of course but it was our bench players that came off in the last three to four minutes - they just came off and had a play," he said.
"I was really happy with how everyone performed today. It was a big loss (playing) without Josh Fiegert today - Josh was a big part of our offence and a key part of our team, but Cody Lindsay stepped up and everyone else just played their role which is what we've got to do every week."
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Fiegert was away in Ballarat at the Youth League try-outs.
There were some key take-aways from the match, Jenkins said.
"If we want to go anywhere and be a finals contender we have to play consistently and have to play defence," he said.
"Defence is going to be a key point for our wins. We don't need to stop them from scoring because I know that our offence can score. Defensively is where we need to step up and play hard."
Jenkins described the Redbacks as a "make-shift team" which was finding its groove against more established teams.
"We're not a real big team, there are a lot of guards through it ... I'm happy with how we go every week," he said. "Last night was tough against Mount Gambier but Mount Gambier is a number one team so that's where your measuring stick is."
Over on the Wildcats side of things coach Alistair Beard said the last two months of training was starting to show in the way the side played.
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"We've been working on a certain offence for the two months that we've been together and you can finally start to see that - especially in the first three quarters you could see that start to work," he said. "They were starting to pass, attack the ring, draw fouls, find open shooters ... we're actually starting to play as a team rather than being a bunch of individuals who just got together two months ago. It's reassuring that we've got something there and we can work towards something.
"Defence was much better today too. We've spent a lot of time on defence so being able to keep a team under a hundred and work through that and rebound much better than the last three weeks and keep them out of the paint, that was nice to see that the training is paying off."
This was the first match the Wildcats have played this season in which the other side finished with a score of under 100.
Beard highlighted the efforts of a couple of players.
"We've set a bit of a challenge to Aiden (Graveson), Joel (Freeland), (Matthew) Bourke to find team mates, get the open shooters and for the first three quarters that happened," he said.
"Getting Gravo to be that physical presence inside it's kind of hard for a kid that's 18 years old and bigger than everyone - they're always a little bit tentative so getting him to realise these guys are just as big and you need to be physical otherwise they'll just push you around so it was nice to see some of that start to click."
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