TRARALGON’S Gippsland Regional Indoor Sports Stadium (GRISS) was rocking last month, when it became the home to WNBL action, hosting the Melbourne Boomers and University of Canberra Capitals.
The Boomers and Capitals closed out Round 4 of the season with their battle at the GRISS, providing an overtime spectacle in front of more than 1000 people.
Although the home team was the Boomers, there was support for the Capitals, as Traralgon export Jade Melbourne captained the side.
For a game that was played in neutral territory, there were cheers for both sides, which only complimented the Latrobe Valley atmosphere.
Despite the hotly-contested nature of the game, the scoreboard wasn’t ticking over as you would have expected early in the piece.
The Capitals took an early lead, although a slender one, up by four points at the end of the first quarter, 20-16.
The Boomers swiftly replied in the second quarter and made the Capitals pay for their mistakes, scoring from turnovers.
The Boomers took the lead moments before halftime, seven tenths of a second before halftime to be exact, up 39-38 at the half, much to the crowd’s pleasure.
The Boomers used their momentum early in the second half, going on a 10-0 run at one point, extending their lead out to 13 points.
But momentum shifted, dragging the Capitals back into the game, as the makeshift visitors only trailed by three points at the final break.
The Capitals regained the lead early in the final quarter and looked to put themselves in the best position to win from there, holding onto the lead for just about the whole quarter, but surrendered the lead at the worst possible time.
They blew the margin out to eight points with four-and-a-half minutes remaining, but it wasn’t quite as comfortable as they had hoped.
The Boomers once again tied the match with a little over two minutes remaining, but never had the lead for themselves, which kept the Capitals hopeful they could be ahead at the right time.
The Boomers squared the game again with one minute and six seconds on the clock at 71 apiece, then again with 41 seconds to go at 74 apiece.
Melbourne made two clutch free throws to put the Capitals ahead with 30 seconds remaining, but it came down to the Boomers’ Keely Froling who made a layup with three seconds left to send the game to overtime.
Those who saw the NBL match last year between South East Melbourne Phoenix and Sydney Kings will remember a double-overtime thriller, and this looked to be taking the same path.
It was important that either side was out of the gates quickly, and luckily for the home side, the Boomers were that team, quickly evading to a four-point lead, putting two possessions between the Capitals and the lead.
As time quickly expired, the Capitals opted to foul and send the Boomers to the line, to no luck, as the lead expanded further out to six points.
In doing so, the Capitals had three players fouled out of the game, while the Boomers had two themselves.
The Boomers sent the crowd crazy at the fulltime whistle, claiming an epic overtime win, the fans definitely getting their moneys worth.
Local hero, Melbourne was once again at her very best, scoring 24 points and provided seven assists for the Capitals, alongside teammates Alexandra Fowler and Alex Sharo who scored 20 points each.
For the Boomers, they had multiple standout players, beginning with Naz Hamilton who scored 33 points and collected 13 rebounds, while Froling scored 17 points and collected 14 boards.
Something that also might have caught the eyes of the local crowd was that Monique Conti took to the court for the Boomers.
More well known for playing AFLW for Richmond, Conti found herself playing WNBL in Traralgon, a day before the AFLW Awards.
You can only imagine what she was thinking because the following day, Conti took out the AFLW’s best and fairest award following a stellar season with the Tigers.
The GRISS will be rocking soon again with basketball action, when the NBL rolls into town on Saturday, December 16.
This time around, South East Melbourne Phoenix are back to face the Illawarra Hawks, with the game starting at 5.30pm.
Tickets are still available via Ticketek.