In an unsettled and frustrating year, Nunawading Spectres have still pushed their way into the SEABL finals.
Despite losing star guard Bec Cole to a season-ending knee injury and battling for consistency in the second half of the season, the Spectres have made the post season and will fly to Brisbane to face the reigning champion Lady Spartans in the semi-finals this Saturday.
Spectres coach Scott Carey said his side’s best form could still see them cause an upset.
“We did enough at the start of the year in terms of getting Ws on the board that we could survive the rut we have gone through recently,” Carey said.
“In our conference the teams below us haven’t be as good so maybe we relaxed or took our foot off the pedal in the last couple of weeks but we have not had the consistency we wanted.
“The last few weeks of the season are always hard like that and we know we could cause an upset up there but it’s still a little disappointing that we didn’t get the job done against Ballarat three weeks ago as we could have taken third place and had Brisbane come to us.
“But all credit to the girls that we are still in position where we can go to Brisbane against last year’s premiers and feel confident we can do the job.”
When Cole went down with her knee injury, Carey admits the side lost its glue player with the point guard offering them skill and leadership at both ends.
Luckily they were able to reach out to Spectres’ favourite and WNBL star Carly Wilson to come back to the side and finish the season with them.
“I’ve coached Bec since under-14s and she was the side’s glue, our heart, so you don’t really replace that player,” Carey said.
“After a week and a half of calls and not much money left, Carly said she would come help us and you couldn’t find a better team player to bring into your group.”
The Spectres have a stack of WNBL level talent in Wilson, Nicole Romeo, Hayley Moffat, Hayley Munro and Kate Oliver.
But the Spartans also have plenty of proven stars like Odette Andrew, Emma McDonald and Sarah Graham.
“The Spartans lost girls from last season but are still deep and very potent,” Carey said.
“We beat them by 20 points or so the first time we went up there and then we held them to 53 on our home floor, just couldn't score enough to beat them.
“I’m confident in the way we have defended and scouted them but we have to hurt them back the other way.”
Carey said role players Danni Bone, Elli Lovelace and Munro had continued to give the side some drive off the bench while he was also happy with the progress of young post player Georgia Pineau.
“Georgia was working with Dandenong’s WNBL side last season and this is her first crack at playing senior basketball with us,” Carey said.
“There has been a chance for me to give her more opportunities recently and we probably still don’t play her enough but she will be a massive stepping stone for us next year.
“She just comes onto the floor and competes and that’s what we need.”
*Bendigo’s Elyse Penaluna (24 points, 14 rebounds) and Stacia Robertson (16 points, 14 rebounds, seven assists) led the way against Brisbane.
*Frankston’s Kelly Bowen ended her outstanding individual season on a high as the Blues’ beat Hobart. Bowen had 21 points and 17 rebounds while Maddie Garrick showed what the team was missing with 24 points and 14 rebounds in all 40 minutes.
*Garrick also had 30 points and eight boards against Launceston.
*Kilsyth’s Cassandra Sant ended the regular season with a 20 point and 10 rebound effort against Geelong then 20 points and six rebounds against Ballarat.
*Canberra’s Julia Forster had 20 points and 13 rebounds against Geelong.
*Ballarat’s Olivia Thompson completed her campaign with 26 points and 14 rebounds against Kilsyth.
*Launceston’s Mikaela Ruef dominated the rebound count against Frankston with 19 points and 24 boards.
*Dandenong’s Clara Papavs had 25 points in her club’s win over Sandringham.
SEABL media links
*Dandenong Journal’s Jarrod Potter (@JarrodPotter) reports on Dandenong Rangers’ finals hopes. Report: http://dandenong.starcommunity.com.au/journal/2015-08-17/double-big-dance-for-rangers/
*Bendigo Advertiser’s Adam Bourke (@bourkey77) reports on the Lady Braves path into the finals. Report: http://www.bendigoadvertiser.com.au/story/3282093/double-joy-for-lady-braves/?cs=81
*Ballarat Courier’s Melanie Whelan (@melanie_whelan) reports on the Rush’s end to the season. Report: http://www.thecourier.com.au/story/3282129/rush-signs-off-in-fearless-fashion-it-worked-to-create/?cs=63
*Whelan also reports on Roy Booker and Abigail Wehrung winning Ballarat MVP honours, check out Roy’s suspender, bow tie combination! Story: http://www.thecourier.com.au/story/3283070/booker-wehrung-the-most-valuable/?cs=63
*Border Mail’s Chris Mitchell reports on Cory Dixon and Kristina Baltic winning the Bandits and Lady Bandits’ MVP awards. Story: http://www.bordermail.com.au/story/3283709/dixon-just-delighted/?cs=10
*AAP’s Roje Adaimy features Geelong star Sara Blicavs and her decorated family in this story: http://www.geelongadvertiser.com.au/sport/local-sport/sara-and-mark-blicavs-both-in-sporting-limelight/story-fnjuhs0b-1227482223943
*Geelong Advertiser’s Wes Cusworth (@WesCusworth) reports on the Supercats’ weekend. Story: http://www.geelongadvertiser.com.au/sport/local-sport/seabl-lady-supercats-claim-the-double-chance/story-fnjuhs0b-1227486955058
*The Examiner featured this gallery of Launceston v Frankston. Gallery: http://www.examiner.com.au/story/3281937/seabl-tornadoes-v-lady-blues-photos/?cs=96#slide=15
*Leader’s Megan Hustwaite (@MeganHustwaite) reports on Nunawading’s final round. Report: http://www.heraldsun.com.au/leader/east/nunawading-spectres-return-to-seabl-winners-list-on-eve-of-finals-showdown-with-brisbane/story-fngnvmqa-1227486413508
*The Age reports on the Opals making the Rio Olympics. Story: http://www.theage.com.au/sport/basketball/australian-opals-make-the-rio-olympics-with-series-win-over-new-zealand-20150817-gj10du.html
*The Age also has Laura Hodges talking about defence and the Opals. Report: http://www.theage.com.au/sport/basketball/australian-opals-see-defence-as-the-way-to-rio-olympics-20150816-gj09ay.html
*The Age reports on Cal Bears’ visit to Frankston this week. Report: http://www.theage.com.au/sport/basketball/jaylen-brown-ivan-rabb-impress-in-debut-game-for-university-of-california-20150816-gj0a77.html
Roy Ward (@rpjward) is a freelance sports writer who has covered the NBA, NBL, WNBL, SEABL and Big V during his career. He will be filing weekly columns on the SEABL men’s and women’s competitions during this season. For feedback or suggestions send Roy a tweet or email him at email@example.com.