SEABL Women- The round 11 report

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Roy Ward on Sarah Graham and the Brisbane Lady Spartans, plus this week’s big plays and the media wrap-up

This past weekend reminded Brisbane Lady Spartans they don’t have much margin for error.

The Lady Spartans sit in fourth place in the SEABL women’s East conference and lead fifth-place Ballarat Rush by a comfortable distance but some poor play cost them on Saturday when the Rush beat them 66-54 in Ballarat.

Brisbane guard Sarah Graham said the team was frustrated and talked through what wasn’t working and took that onto the court against an undermanned Nunawading Spectres at Nunawading on Sunday.

The game was a dour, defensive affair but the Lady Spartans found a way to win 53-50 to split the weekend and take their record to 7-7.

“The whole group was pretty disappointed after the loss to Ballarat so we sat down and pointed a few things out that we needed to improve on and also highlighted what we are good at,” Graham said.

“We were all really motivated to get out there on Sunday and turn around what was a pretty big weekend in our season.

“We kept Nunawading to 50 points, we didn’t score a lot more than they did but we grinded it out well and stuck with what we wanted to do.”

This year’s Lady Spartans are missing some of the key pieces in last season’s SEABL championship win such as reliable scorer Olivia Thompson and veteran Nat Taylor but an experienced core of Graham, Odette Andrew, Karli Currie, Cassie Smith and Hollie Smith remains along with the addition of former Opals and WNBL centre Emma McDonald.

Yet they have not hit their straps and despite looking likely to finish in the East top four, Graham said they needed to find the consistency lacking in their play.

“We have been pretty up and down and are still struggling to find that consistency and chemistry,” Graham said.

“We have changed a bit from last season and are still putting the pieces together but the quality of training has stepped up in the past few weeks and that can only help us.”

While the Lady Spartans may not have a poster player or superstar in their line-up, Graham said the balance and understanding in the group would help them in the final stretch of the season.

“We like our group, like our mix,” Graham said.

“Our style this year is very “teamy” – last year we had Olivia Thompson who gave us 20 or more points and 10 rebounds every game which was great but we don’t really have that now so it makes room for other people to step up.

“We’ve done that sometimes and we need that a bit more.”

Graham has averaged 13 points per game so far and scored 13 in the win over the Spectres but the sharp-shooter wants to give her side a bit more production in the weeks ahead.

She still isn’t sure what her plans will be for the upcoming WNBL season after playing with West Coast Waves for 2014/15.

“I feel my season has been pretty inconsistent too,” Graham said.

“I’ve had a couple of good games but I’m still not where I would like to be or helping the group as much as I’d like.”

As for the Spartans’ hopes heading into the business end of the season – Graham said don’t count them out.

“We know it’s not panic stations at all – we just need to step it up,” Graham said.

“We don’t have those option of being able to slip up a bit during games so we need to switch on, put our heads down and get ourselves into a good position heading into the finals.”

Notable performances

*BA Centre of Excellence had its own twin towers on show against Canberra Capitals Academy on Friday night with Elyse Penaluna scoring 20 points, grabbing 10 rebounds and getting four steals while teenager Ezi Magbegor added 10 points, 13 rebounds and four blocks in COE’s win.

*Penaluna also had 22 points, seven rebounds and five blocks against Bendigo on Sunday.

*Frankston’s Kelly Bowen flirted with a quadruple double against Sandringham with 32 points, nine rebounds, seven assists and five steals.

*Kilsyth’s Chantella Perera went off against Albury-Wodonga with 30 points and six steals in 35 minutes.

*Launceston import Mikaela Ruef poured in the points against Dandenong with 32 points, 15 rebounds and six steals in the Tornadoes win over the Rangers.

*Rangers veterans Clare Papavs and Jacinta Kennedy both had big nights with Papavs adding 25 points and five steals while Kennedy had 24 points and 11 rebounds.

*Bendigo point guard Kelly Wilson just missed a triple-double against Canberra Capitals Academy with 21 points, 12 rebounds and nine assists – she also had three steals and backed up her good form with 22 points in the Braves’ loss to BA Centre of Excellence on Sunday.

SEABL media links

*The Examiner reports on Launceston Tornadoes’ ninth straight win. Report: http://www.examiner.com.au/story/3175310/tornadoes-make-it-nine-in-a-row/?cs=96

*The Examiner’s Phil Edwards also reports on Emilee Harmon’s injury blow. Report: http://www.examiner.com.au/story/3174601/torns-injury-blow/?cs=96

*The Courier’s Melanie Whelan (@Melanie_Whelan) reports on the Rush’s new attitude. Report, pics: http://www.thecourier.com.au/story/3175232/attitude-adjustment-telling-in-fierce-rush-home-win/?cs=63

*Ballarat Courier’s David Brehaut reports the Australian Opals will play Japan in Ballarat and have a training camp in the city in July. Story: http://www.thecourier.com.au/story/3170676/opal-visit-coup/?csa=63

*Border Mail’s Chris Young reports on the the Lady Bandits’ weekend. Report: http://www.bordermail.com.au/story/3176695/one-term-leaves-brookens-lamenting-what-might-have-been/?cs=10

*Border Mail’s Steve Smith (@stevesmithffx) also offered a midseason review of the Lady Bandits. Report: http://www.bordermail.com.au/story/3172794/grading-the-2015-albury-wodonga-lady-bandits/?cs=10

*Bendigo Advertiser’s Nathan Dole reports on the Lady Braves’ weekend road trip. Report: http://www.bendigoadvertiser.com.au/story/3175656/lady-braves-halve-tough-double/?cs=81

*The Advertiser also reports WNBL club Bendigo Spirit have signed a new import and will name two more signings in days to come. Report: http://www.bendigoadvertiser.com.au/story/3177611/joy-burke-signs-with-bendigo-spirit/?cs=81