The Albury-Wodonga Lady Bandits rallied from a 14-point half-time deficit to stun the Canberra Capitals Academy 72-71 on Saturday night.
In front of a packed house, easily the biggest crowd the Lady Bandits have enjoyed in some time, the young team played beyond their years against a highly experienced Canberra outfit.
The Capitals were bolstered by the inclusion of two-time WNBL all-star and champion, as well as Australian Opals centre Marianna Tolo, but it was 14-year-old Olivia Barber who almost single-handedly turned the game for the home side.
Olivia Barber scored 17 points in as many minutes to spark the Lady Bandits’ comeback win over the Canberra Capitals Academy in the Allen McCowan Memorial Game.
With emotions running high for the Allen McCowan Memorial game, head coach Jim Wilson said he couldn’t have been more proud of his team’s courage.
“It was against a quality Canberra team, probably the strongest team they’ve put on the court in a long time”
“What pleased me most was that it was one of our young guns that sparked us when we were down by 10.”
Wilson said Barber, who finished with a season-high 17 points in just under 17 minutes, had given everything she had.
“I was concerned, she was gassed after her run in the third quarter,” he said.
“The emotion of the occasion sapped it out of her a bit.
“She came back out and hit the ground running.
“She’s a good kid.
“What’s really pleasing about this group is that these are all local kids.
“All of them have excelled when they’ve been given the opportunity, it shows we’re heading in the right direction.”
Barber, Emma Mahady (17 points, 8 rebounds, 4 assists), and Toccara Ross (17-7-4) led the scorers for the Lady Bandits.
It was only fitting that the Lady Bandits would fight their way to victory in memory of the late Allen McCowan, who coached the side in 2007 and 2008.
“Was it meant to be? It probably was,” Wilson said.