SEABL Women- The round 16 report

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Roy Ward talks to Launceston Tornadoes coach Reece Potter and covers this week’s big plays as well as the media wrap-up.

Launceston coach Reece Potter expected many challenges in his first season coaching in the SEABL.

The 23-year old Sydney University Flames assistant coach knew his Launceston side would have to battle constant travel and a fiercely competitive women’s competition.

Although he didn’t expect snow to force him into cancelling training but that is exactly what happened on Monday night.

“We have a couple of girls who are living on the coast and we couldn’t have them driving Monday night,” Potter said.

“Ally Wilson was literally snowed in and we had some of the girls who were still going to try and get to training so we just called it off and moved it to Wednesday.”

Those of us who don’t know Tasmania would assume all the Tornadoes players are based in the town itself but that is not the case with some players, such as Wilson, living on the coast and needing to travel up to two hours to reach training.

“It’s a challenge for this year to have players travelling two hours to training, working out for two hours and then driving home two hours,” Potter said.

“The commitment of the team has been unbelievable and there are no excuses from the girls – they have all bought in and committed to this season.”

The Tornadoes have had a whirlwind season, excuse the pun, as they dropped four of their first five games before winning ten straight mid-season.

Their 13-7 record sees them tied with Bendigo Braves for third and fourth place in the south conference.

“Everyone gets pumped up for the start of the season and pumped up for the end of the season but the middle is always a grind,” Potter said.

“So we said lets be harder and tougher than anyone and grind out those middle matches – I didn’t think we would win ten straight – it was great to get that done.

“I wish it was 11 – we dropped that one to Geelong and it hurt us.

“With Bendigo stepping up now we have to step up with them.”

Potter applied for the Launceston job as a way to push his own development after having a strong first WNBL season with Flames coach Shannon Seebohm as their side made a late run to the preliminary final.

“Launceston seemed to be going in the right direction off the court and had good support from the community and the board so I went for it,” Potter said.

“I come from Maitland near Newcastle and just spent my first time living in Sydney so Launceston is more like the pace I’m used to.”

Potter has drawn on what he learned last WNBL season in empowering his players to take on the experienced, established rosters at other clubs.

“I learned a lot from Shannon in terms of teaching players to have confidence and belief and making them achieve more than what people outside the group expect,” Potter said.

“You look at other teams and they might have more talent but if you go in with the right mindset anything can happen.”

This is where Potter has praised his whole roster from the WNBL stars like Wilson and Mikaela Ruef to his locally developed players.

“People didn’t rate them [local players] all that highly but their attitude has been unbelievable and the sacrifices they have made is why we have been successful as a team,” Potter said.

“They have done more than I expected and their work on defence and the stuff you can’t get a stat for has made a difference.”

Like so many other players and coaches, Potter also acknowledges he has learned the painful lesson that teams in SEABL win matches whether their star players are playing or not.

“It’s a real challenge – you could play Geelong with Sara Blicavs or without and they are a completely different team,” Potter said.

“We played them without her and after winning ten straight games – we got touched up and lost.

“But we are now seeing the more experienced teams locking in, the challenge for us is to see if we can lock in too and finish off the season in the best way we can.”

Notable performances

*Frankston star Maddie Garrick (30 points, 7 rebounds) came back from Opals duty in great touch against Albury-Wodonga.

*Bendigo’s Elyse Penaluna also took her Opals form back to SEABL level with 29 points and 13 rebounds against Hobart plus 18 and 11 against Kilsyth.

*Hobart duo Klara Wischer (31 points, 12 rebounds, five steals) and Izzy Chilcott (26 points, five assists) turned on their best against Sandringham.

*Albury-Wodonga’s Kristina Baltic (16 points, 18 boards) hit the glass hard for her club against Frankston.

*Canberra’s Julia Forster had 12 and 19 against Brisbane.

*Ballarat’s Abbey Wehrung had 23 points against Dandenong.

*Launceston’s Mikaela Ruef notched 13 points and 23 rebounds plus three blocks against Nunawading.

*Spectres point guard Nicole Romeo loaded up against Geelong with 29 points and ten rebounds. Teammate Kate Oliver had two strong games with 23 and 12 against Launceston along with 18 and 12 against Geelong.

SEABL media links

*Dandenong Journal’s Jarrod Potter (@JarrodPotter) writes about Dandenong’s Aimee Clydesdale playing for the Opals on her home court. Story:

*Geelong Advertiser’s Wes Cusworth (@WesCusworth) reports on Geelong’s overtime clash with Nunawading. Report:

*Frankston Leader’s Simon McEvoy reports on the Opals’ game at Frankston Stadium. Report:

*The Advocate’s Cam Slessor reports on Launceston player Marisa Payne heading to a US college. Report:

*The Courier’s Melanie Whelan (@Melanie_Whelan) reports on the Ballarat Rush’s weekend. Report:

*The Courier’s David Brehaut reports on the Opals visit to Ballarat. Report:

*The Courier’s Lachlan Bence also filed this picture gallery from the game. Gallery:

*The Border Mail’s Chris Young reports on the Lady Bandits round. Report:

*The Examiner’s Phil Edwards reports on Emilee Harmon’s return from injury. Report:

*Bendigo Advertiser’s Adam Bourke (@bourkey77) reports on the Braves’ weekend. Report, picture:

*The Age reports on the US college sides visiting Melbourne in August. Report:

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