In their first season in Ballarat’s premier domestic basketball competition, the Ballarat Bingo Centre Bearcats are into a grand final.
But the team, mostly made up of long-time school friends, is no stranger to success, having won six of the previous seven championships in A1 division before changing divisions this year.
Michael Sharkey, considered the father figure of the team, will suit up for the grand final with the hope of getting some minutes despite a sore calf. At 57, the sharpshooter played his first game at top level in May.
Some crucial points from Sharkey late in the final game of the season helped the Bearcats to draw, which secured the double chance.
The Bearcats convincingly defeated the Wildcats Blue, 61-41, in the preliminary final to progress to the grand final. But the first-placed Saints – a team the Bearcats are yet to defeat – stand in their way of a championship.
The Saints boast current and former Ballarat Miners including Amos Brooks, Chris Smith and Dion Collard. But Sharkey argues the Bearcats have never had their full side, which has plenty of talent, in those games.
“When we started playing A-grade we just wanted to be competitive, so it’s beyond our dreams,” Sharkey said.
The men’s A-grade grand final takes place on Monday night at the Minerdome along with the women’s grand final between Exies Acmy and Saints.