Roy Ward on Clare Papavs of the Dandenong Rangers, plus this week’s big plays and the media wrap-up.
Off the court, Dandenong Rangers star Clare Papavs is back on the horse and riding high on it.
A veteran of the SEABL and a WNBL championship player as well, Papavs has long served the Rangers SEABL side switching year to year from being a prime scorer or role player depending on who else is in the team.
In the past few weeks, Papavs has had to hit the scoreboard after a knee problem sent point guard Amelia Todhunter to the sidelines and other issues restricted the Rangers at training.
Even with their bumps and bruises, Dandenong still has the quality to win games and sit on top of the SEABL east conference with a 10-2 record.
Papavs is one of just five Rangers who have played all 12 games in the first half of the season and in the past four games she has hit a rich vein of form including a 21-point performance in their win over Frankston Blues on Saturday night.
After spending so many years with basketball as the dominant thing in her life, Papavs decided this year to return to horse riding after putting it aside to focus on her WNBL aspirations 10 years ago.
Papavs bought an ex-race horse and is now competing in horse riding (not racing).
“I’ve always done kind of what the team required me to do,” Papavs said.
“I’ve been a good scorer and with Amelia out, she is a good scorer so I’ve been more aggressive offensively. I’ve also gone back to horse riding after 10 years off because basketball was way too hectic.
“My focus has shifted off basketball and I’m playing the best basketball of my career. I no longer stress out over a silly round ball – I’m doing it 100 per cent for fun.
“I show up to the game or training and I do what I’ve got to do. I’m probably more nervous before riding in competition.”
Todhunter is out for at least the next six weeks as she battles an ongoing knee problem while other Rangers have had problems on and off across the season.
Still, the Rangers are used to upheaval and changing personal after many years of having players leave for national team duties or for new WNBL clubs.
Papavs said despite this year’s group featuring a wide mix of older and younger players – they had found a way to play together.
“It just works and give [coach] Larissa Anderson credit; she has got an ability to pull a group together,” Papavs said.
“The key is we have a bit of fun – it’s not serious all the time and our young kids are so willing to soak in the experience of those around them.
“We walk off the court and we are legitimately mates.”
While the form of Papavs and Aimee Clydesdale has been impressive once more this season, centre Jacinta Kennedy continues to look the goods in her second year back in the SEABL.
Papavs played with Kennedy at Kilsyth and while the forward needed last season to get used to playing elite basketball – she is now settled back into it.
Kennedy was out of Australian basketball for several years while following her husband, long time Socceroos and international soccer player Josh Kennedy to his various jobs overseas.
“Before she settled into being a wife and following Josh – she was an incredible player,” Papavs said.
“I was lucky enough to play my very first SEABL year with her at Kilsyth – she was in her prime and could do anything.
“I’m not sure how long she had off but it would have been six or seven years but now she is coming into her own and finding some very good form.”
While the Rangers look set to make a major challenge for this year’s SEABL women’s title – Papavs said injuries in the squad meant no one was looking past their next training.
“We have been so injury riddled in the past five to six weeks that we have been lucky to have 10 players at training,” Papavs said.
“There is a lot going on behind the scenes and our focus has to stay on taking each training and each game as it comes – no one is talking about things that are too far ahead.”
*Hobart Lady Chargers Klara Wischer had a day out against Canberra Capitals Academy scoring 32 points and grabbing 12 rebounds.
*Frankston’s Kate Gaze has 25 points and seven assists against Dandenong.
*Geelong’s Sara Blicavs had 26 points and five rebounds against Albury-Wodonga.
*Launceston’s Ally Wilson had 30 points and eight rebounds in her club’s win over Sandringham.
SEABL media links
*Bendigo Advertiser’s Luke West reports on the Lady Braves clash with Ballarat. Report, pictures: http://www.bendigoadvertiser.com.au/story/3145329/lady-braves-bounce-back/?cs=81
*The Addy also reports on Kristi Harrower’s newborn baby. Report, picture: http://www.bendigoadvertiser.com.au/story/3145546/kristi-harrower-gives-birth-to-cooper/?cs=81
*Leader’s Megan Hustwaite (@MeganHustwaite) reports on Kate Oliver’s season so far and her WNBL hopes. Report, picture: http://www.heraldsun.com.au/leader/sport/kate-oliver-returns-to-melbourne-to-develop-her-seabl-and-wnbl-game-with-the-spectres-and-boomers/story-fnglemo4-1227393287264
*Dandenong Journal’s Jarrod Potter (@JarrodPotter) reports on the Rangers win over Frankston. Report, picture: http://dandenong.starcommunity.com.au/journal/2015-06-15/free-and-too-good-to-be-true/
*Border Mail’s Steve Smith (@Stevesmithffx) reports on the Lady Bandits clash with Geelong. Report, pictures: http://www.bordermail.com.au/story/3146405/geelong-lady-supercats-too-big-too-strong/?cs=10
*Ballarat Courier’s Melanie Whelan (@melanie_whelan) reports on the Rush’s clash with Bendigo. Story: http://www.thecourier.com.au/story/3146349/basketball-rush-puts-up-a-fight/?cs=63
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 firstname.lastname@example.org