At the conclusion of the 2015 season, we look back on how the teams from Albury/Wodonga fared.
ALBURY-WODONGA LADY BANDITS
Wins – 2
Losses – 20
Standing – 7th East Conference
2014 result – 1 win 23 losses, 7th East Conference
The Lady Bandits’ two wins for the year came against conference rivals. They were the third best offensive rebounding team in the competition with Kristina Baltic (4.5 per game), Alison Bouman (2.6) and Teyla Evans (1.7) tirelessly crashing the glass.
Unsurprisingly given their record, Albury-Wodonga were the worst offensive and defensive team in the league with an average losing margin of 23 points. Their poor shooting was most evident from the free throw line where their 61% conversion rate was 10% below the competition average, making it difficult for the Lady Bandits to keep the scoreboard ticking over.
Import Kristina Baltic led her side in points (13.6), rebounds (10.9) and assists (2.4). She was one of eight players to average a double-double, recording 13 for the season and finishing the year with ten consecutive double-doubles.
For a team that has had little success and not reached the playoffs since 2009, Albury-Wodonga is in desperate need of consistency. Eight players departed last season and although their two new imports impressed, it took them a while to find their footing. If they can maintain Baltic and Bouman or at least their core group of local talent, a foundation can be made to bring the Lady Bandits back into finals contention.
Joining the Australian Gems in the Under-19 World Championships earlier this year, Montana Farrah-Seaton is gaining international experience that could make her one of the premiere SEABL players next year. Her point production has remained consistent since 2013 but if she can bump it up from ten points to 15 a game, the Lady Bandits will have a steady scorer to rely on week in and week out.
GRADE – 2/10
Wins – 17
Losses – 7
Standing – 1st East Conference
Post-Season Results – lost to Mt. Gambier (GF)
2013 result – 13 wins 13 losses, 5th South Conference
Winners of the East Conference, the Bandits improved four places on last year’s ladder position and lost just one game at home all year. They finished the regular season with seven straight victories, holding off the Supercats for top spot before defeating them twice in the playoffs. Donte Nicholas and Deba George provided a frighteningly quick back-court pairing with George (17.7 points, 3.8 assists) controlling the offence while Nicholas (17.7 points, 8.1 rebounds and a league-best 2.9 steals) patrolled the defensive end.
For all of Albury-Wodonga’s domination at home, they struggled to get it together on the road, finishing with a 6-6 record. An untimely injury to Daniel Sepokas, who went down in Round 17, hurt an already shortened roster that saw just ten players hit the court all season.
Stamping his name all over the end of season stats, Cory Dixon finished third for points per game (20.8), second for rebounds (11.2 including four offensive boards) and fourth for blocks (1.3). He recorded 17 double-doubles and had the best field goal shooting percentage (54%) for any player with 150+ attempts.
As well as retaining their imports and the deadly point guard combo of George and Sepokas, a deeper bench will be pivotal to Albury-Wodonga’s run next season. If those imports do not return, the Bandits must continue to look to their local youth clubs as neither of their 2015 rookies saw court time.
Alex Bogart-King’s numbers were down on his debut season in which he averaged 11 points and six rebounds but he still provided a solid back-up for the likes of Dixon under the rim. When Albury-Wodonga got in foul trouble in the Grand Final, he stood up to shoot 5-8 from the field in 13 minutes. Showing he is not afraid of the big stage, the power forward could lead the front court in 2016.