Vikings charge into grand final replay at home
BASKETBALL: Crown Hotel Grafton Vikings will ride a wave of momentum into their Frigid Air Sunshine Conference grand final rematch against Ballina Breakers, after starting the season on a two-game winning streak.
But it will not be an easy battle for the home side, as they will be missing star forward Mitch Wicks who has been on fire in the early part of the season.
Wicks was again the Vikings' best in their away win against Lismore Storm last weekend, but coach Nathan Martin said they had a plan in place to lessen the blow of his absence.
"He has been our best all season, so there is no doubting his loss will pose a challenge for our side,” Martin said.
"But we have big man Brad Payne, who is into his third year at that level, and I expect he will have no trouble stepping up to the starting five.
"Our other option is to run a smaller starting team with Dylan Beneke playing a two-man role in the front court.”
Beneke stepped up last week against Lismore in the absence of captain and point guard Sam Wicks, posting a career-best points tally of 18.
Martin said the smaller line-up could also play into the Vikings' aggressive transitional playing style this season.
They will welcome point guard Wicks back into the side this weekend, and after a week's refresher on the sideline he is expected to be firing on all cylinders for the clash at Grafton Sports Centre.
"I think Sam getting that time off will really help to recharge the batteries and can only be a good thing for the team,” Martin said.
"We have been training really hard on the boards this week, putting plenty of time in on the offence, and we will be more than ready for this clash.”
It will also be the first time the Vikings women get to play in front of a home crowd this season after they also defeated Lismore last weekend.
The women's clash will be a curtain-raiser to the main game with tip-off at 4.30pm.
"It is great to have the girls playing good basketball along with us,” Martin said. "It makes it a great night of entertainment, and for only a gold coin donation, you can't beat it.”