Tag: jasmin fejo

2020 WNBL Round 1 weekday preview: Mackay and Townsville hubs tip-off as all eight teams commence

IN 2020 the Women’s National Basketball League (WNBL) is a little different compared to usual, with the rounds stretching over more days with extra games. At Draft Central, we will preview the weekday games, followed by the weekend games separately to ensure the permutations in the second half of the round are as accurate as possible.

We tip-off Round 1 with all eight sides competing in the North Queensland hubs, starting in Mackay on Wednesday, and then heading to Townsville on Thursday in what should be a blockbuster opening round of action.

* Game times are local/AEDT

ADELAIDE LIGHTING vs. UC CAPITALS
Wednesday, November 11, 5/6pm (Mackay)

Opening the new season is 2019/20 finalists, Adelaide Lightning going up against reigning premiers, UC Capitals. The Capitals will be keen to retain their title in the 2020 shortened season despite losing a couple of key imports over the off-season. In the absence of volume shooter and league Most Valuable Player (MVP) Kia Nurse, and Grand Final Series MVP Olivia Epoupa, the Capitals will have a slightly different starting five heading into the season.

The quartet of Australians crucial to the success fo the Capitals all re-signed with co-captains Kelsey Griffin and Marianna Tolo, and rising stars Keely Froling and Maddison Rocci all rejoining the side. Sydney Uni Flames’ Tahlia Tupaea was tipped to be the fifth member of the starting side for coach Paul Gorriss. Along with Tupaea, the Capitals have also brought in former Lightning talents Hannah Kaser and Ashley Taia to add some spice to the mix, as well as up and coming youngster Jade Melbourne.

While the Capitals largely have a known list, the Lightning will be vastly different to the team that fronted up last season. Chelsea Brook, Steph Talbot are the only two expected starters who got on court last season, with Jasmin Fejo predicted to play a key role in 2020. With veteran Lauren Nicholson heading north to Townsville and captain Nicole Seekamp retiring, the Lightning have brought in key player Marena Whittle, and had added talented college graduate Alana Smith but unfortunately injury has ruled her out for the year. Others who have joined returning back to the country include Taylor Ortlepp, Ella Batish and Carlie Smith, as well as WNBL talents Alex Wilson (Sydney Uni Flames), Louella Tomlinson (Southside Flyers) and Abbey Wehrung (Bendigo Spirit).

The UC Capitals will head in as favourites for the clash coming in as reigning premiers and with more stability in their line-up, but the Lightning will be an exciting team to see how they gel.

PERTH LYNX vs. TOWNSVILLE FIRE
Wednesday, November 11, 7/8pm (Mackay)

Two sides that will be keen to build on their 2019/20 season will be Perth Lynx and Townsville Fire who missed out on the post-season finals. The Fire will be no stranger to the weather conditions in the far north, but find themselves the visiting team in this encounter with the Lynx. The Fire have made a number of changes to invigorate their lineup with both young stars and experienced heads joining the team. The Lynx will also look largely different after some off-season changes, including assistant coach Ryan Petrik stepping up to replace outgoing head coach Andy Stewart.

The biggest intrigue of the match will be the changing of colours of Nadeen Payne and Darcee Garbin who effectively were involved in a trade with the players switching allegiances. Payne went from Perth to Townsville, whilst Garbin joined the Lynx from the Fire. Young gun Shyla Heal was the huge signing of the off-season for the Fire, with up-and-comers Megan McKay, Lara McSpadden and Courtney Woods all strengthening the outfit. Steph Reid crossed from Southside Flyers for more court time and enjoyed a strong QSL season, whilst Lauren Nicholson’s arrival from the Lightning added that experience needed at the Fire around the young talent.

The Lynx did not waste any time by announcing veteran and former Lynx star Sami Whitcomb back for the season, but unfortunately she was mutually released for family reasons. The re-signing of Katie Ebzery was as important as any, whilst Garbin was a welcome inclusion. The omissions are going to hurt, with not only Payne going, but Lauren Mansfield and Alison Schwagmeyer heading to Sydney Uni, and Marena Whittle joining Adelaide Lightning. Perth also brought in some local players with Kayla Steindl, Ashleigh Isenbarger and Mackenzie Clinch-Hoycard all joining the fray, while Jessie Edwards signed on from the Lightning among a number of other re-signings.

It seems the two sides are at the opposite ends of the off-season success with Townsville bringing in a host of big guns, whilst Perth has lost a number of key players making it tough for the Lynx. With the home state advantage, expect the Fire to start off strongly here.

MELBOURNE BOOMERS vs. SYDNEY UNI FLAMES
Thursday, November 12, 6/7pm (Townsville)

Tipping off Thursday nights’s action in Townsville, two sides that will believe they can go deep in the finals series go head-to-head. The Melbourne Boomers have kept a relatively strong line-up together, whilst Sydney Uni Flames have bolstered their hopes of pushing into the finals series. Given the losses the Lightning have had, the Flames are a huge chance to force their way into the top four, and alongside Townsville are the other side likely to crack into the finals.

The Boomers announced signing Tess Madgen from Townsville and quickly tied up Madeleine Garrick, Cayla George and Ezi Magbegor within the first month of the re-signing period. Kalani Purcell, Antonia Farnworth, Penina Davidson, Stella Beck and Rachel Brewster all followed, with Eliza Wright, Hope Terdich and Rachel Antoniadou stepping up from NBL1 level. Possibly the most underrated signing of the period came in late October with the announcement that Tall Black, Ashleigh Karaitiana would join the side after a big QSL season and she will only strengthen that outfit. The three losses were Monique Conti to the Flyers, Paige Price to Bendigo and Chelsea D’Angelo out with an Achilles injury, but the Boomers are still a formidable unit.

The Flames will be an incredibly different outfit in 2020, possibly four of the starting five coming from other sides. June 24 marked a big day for the Flames, announcing he recruitment of Anneli Maley from Southside Flyers, and even bigger the coup of Lauren Mansfield from Perth Lynx. Alison Schwagmeyer followed Mansfield to the Flames, while Kiera Rowe joined Maley in crossing from Southside. The inclusions replaced the likes of Tahlia Tupaea, Brittany Smart and Lara McSpadden who all departed, whilst Turkish-Australian national Funda Nakkasoglu was allowed to sign having dual citizenship being born in Melbourne. Natalie Burton also returned to her home country and will slot straight into the four spot with Lauren Scherf the other key starter for the Flames. Carly Boag (Finland) also returned home to Australia from Europe and will add to the strength of the side.

Melbourne Boomers have the known form and will be favourites in this game, but the Flames have a lot of unknown about them. That can work in their favour once they gel, and could be a dangerous team this season.

BENDIGO SPIRIT vs. SOUTHSIDE FLYERS
Thursday, November 12, 8/9pm (Townsville)

The final game of the first half of the round might be the most anticipated. Not necessarily due to the result, but more so to see the much anticipated starting five of the Southside Flyers. Last year’s runners-up have got enough Opals to open a jewellery shop, and they are favourites for the overall title. Some have suggested it could be the greatest line-up ever assembled, which could well be true which only adds to the pressure and intrigue. Bendigo Spirit will have the toughest assignment up first, with a much more inexperienced lineup compared to the Flyers.

The Spirit lost American Rebecca Tobin who chose to head to Romania, as well as Abbey Wehrung (Adelaide) and Shyla Heal (Townsville) who will all be big losses. They have signed up college returnee Georgia Pineau who should help provide some extra young talent to the team, as well as Amelia Todhunter and Piper Dunlop out of the NBL1 competition. Dunlop is a rising star and one to watch, whilst Mary Goulding has returned from Sweden, and Jennie Rintala crossed over from the Lightning. Paige Price adds some great young talent to the Spirit taking over from Heal, while the re-signings of Alicia Froling, Cassidy McLean and Tessa Lavey were crucial, with the latter also testing herself at AFL Women’s, but will be present in the hub.

Southside Flyers on the other hand went from strength to strength over the off-season. Losing crucial import Mercedes Russell to Turkey due to the no-imports rule, they set about re-signing everybody else. Jenna O’Hea, Rebecca Cole, Sara Blicavs, Aimie Clydesdale and Rebecca Pizzey all signed on in between a host of incredible signings. Steph Blicavs crossed from Adelaide, Rachel Jarry stepped up from NBL1, and Monique Conti came over from cross-town rivals the Boomers. But by far the biggest both physically and metaphorically was Liz Campage with the WNBA champion the biggest signing of the off-season and turning the Flyers into the standout team. The Flyers did lose a few, with Steph Reid going to Townsville, Louella Tomlinson heading to Adelaide and Kiera Rowe going to Sydney Uni, but the inclusions far outweigh the omissions.

It is hard to look past Southside in any game this season just about, and when they are coming up against an inexperienced Bendigo lineup, the Flyers are comfortably the favourites in this one.

Picture: WNBL

WNBL20 Team Preview – Adelaide Lightning

IN the final of Draft Central’s WNBL20 team previews in lieu of the opening tipoff, we look at one of the two teams set to kick off the campaign tonight in the Adelaide Lightning, as Chris Lucas’ side will look to make the top-four for the third time in as many years, despite losing their marquee signing in Alanna Smith a few weeks ago due to injury.

Despite Smith’s unfortunate absence, the Lightning still maintains an arsenal of weapons at their disposal, none more so than their appointed Captain for the next six weeks Stephanie Talbot. Concluding her 2019/20 season, the nine-year-veteran cemented herself as one of the competition’s premiere players after averaging 13.8 points, 8.7 rebounds and 4.9 assists throughout 21 games. These numbers would lay the foundation for a list of accolades, as Talbot received an All-WNBL Second Team nomination and a selection to next year’s Australian Opals squad, further establishing her with the reputation to lead Adelaide into WNBL20.

Aiding Talbot in the team’s frontcourt are two very dynamic forwards in Chelsea Brook, a rising star amongst WNBL bigs, and 32-year-old Louella Tomlinson, who has seen it all experience-wise and provides a facilitative defensive role. Perceived as the embodiment of the South Australian basketball system, Brook has been representing her home state with an abundance of gusto, earning bulk minutes and producing more solid numbers each season. Tomlinson, who considers herself an efficient passer and defensive presence will look for a more stable role under Lucas’ rotation, as the 2012 champion has had a hectic career in terms of location with her past clubs. Backing up these two is WNBL debutant Ella Batish, who came out with an impressive 2019 NBL1 season with the Sandringham Sabres, averaging 9.1 points and 4.5 rebounds. Despite missing out on this year’s NBL1 campaign with the Frankston Blues, Batish remains excited for the upcoming six weeks hoping to make a difference on the boards and bolster the Lightning’s defensive prowess.

Smith’s injury announcement was not the only loss for Adelaide during the pre-season, as NBL1 Central superstar Jasmin Fejo also announced she would be watching the season from home due to the birth of her first child, and as a result it provides a chance for other guards to put their skills on display. One to keep an eye on is Alex Wilson, who is hot off the heels of a tremendous season with the Sydney Uni Flames, averaging 10.8 points, five assists and almost four rebounds a game. A product of Adelaide’s Eastern Mavericks NBL1 side, Wilson will be excited to don her home-city colours once again after almost a decade away in both Townsville and Sydney.

A more refined player in her own right, Marena Whittle has crossed over from the Western Australia border to provide her versatility to the Lightning. Known for her utility-based skillset and leadership qualities, Whittle has long held the tag of a “Sixth Man”, and the 26-year-old is keen to shake this notion. Averaging over 10 points per game last season, as well as 4.8 rebounds and an assist, it can be widely agreed upon that Whittle is ready for a more major role in the roster.

Rounding out the Lightning’s 10-player squad are guards Abbey Wehrung, who made the trip west from Bendigo and 3X3 national team member Carlie Smith, while Lucas has injected some NCAA talent into the line-up as well, with Boston College graduate Taylor Ortlepp and Oregon Duck Morgan Yaeger. Brooke Basham and Aimee Brett finalise the team as the two Development Players for the season.

2020 WNBL season preview – Part 2: Finalists to line up for another crack at title

IN the second part of our two-part Women’s National Basketball League (WNBL) season preview, we look at the four finalists from last year and where they stand. Expect them all to be there at the pointy end, getting stronger over the journey and making it a highly competitive season in 2020.

Southside Flyers

Without a doubt the premiership favourites and team to beat in the WNBL 2020 season. The Southside flyers have not only been able to retain key players, but added some elite talents with a starting five that could well be an international line-up. Over the off-season, they lost Mercedes Russell under the import rule, and then the experienced Louella Tomlinson to Adelaide Lightning. Steph Reid headed to Townsville Fire and both Anneli Maley and Kiera Rowe headed to Sydney Uni Flames.

Whilst those players provided great depth to the club, the Flyers brought in the biggest off-season coup of the lot, signing WNBA talent Liz Cambage to the roster. With Cambage an upgrade on an already elite Russell at the five, then adding in Stephanie Blicavs to join her sister at the club, as well as young gun Monique Conti, the Flyers were literally flying through the off-season. Aside from the inclusions, the Flyers re-signed almost their entire list, with Jenna O’Hea, Sara Blicavs, Rebecca Cole, Aimie Clydesdale and Leilani Mitchell among the key signings.

WHY THEY CAN WIN IT:

On paper there is littler doubt this team could win it, littered with a ridiculous amount of Opals. Their talent is unmatched and they deserve favouritism.

WHY THEY CAN’T WIN IT:

The only reason they might not is due to gelling reasons with such star power across the court. It is hard to imagine them struggling, and they will get to the finals alone on talent, but they will have a lot of top stars fighting for minutes which will be the envy of the competition.

CHANGES:

INS: Liz Cambage (International), Stephanie Blicavs (Adelaide), Monique Conti (Melbourne), Rachel Jarry (NBL1)
OUTS: Anneli Maley, Kiera Rowe (Sydney Uni), Steph Reid (Townsville), Louella Tomlinson (Adelaide), Mercedes Russell (International)
RE-SIGNINGS: Jenna O’Hea, Rebecca Cole, Sara Blicavs, Aimie Clydesdale, Leilani Mitchell, Rebecca Pizzey, Taylah Gilliam, Saraid Taylor, Amy O’Neill

POTENTIAL STARTING FIVE:

Bec Cole
Leilani Mitchell
Jenna O’Hea
Sara Blicavs
Liz Cambage

>> Southside Flyers team preview

PREDICTION: 1st-2nd

The Southside Flyers are the team to beat in season 2020, with talent across the entire court. Not only is their starting five ridiculously strong, but even their bench is clearly a class above any others. They are the standout team and it would take a brave person to back against them this season.

UC Capitals

The reigning back-to-back premiers were quick on the trigger to announce a host of re-signings at the start of the off-season to secure their line-up for a crack a at a three-peat. Whilst it was announced early that they would be without their Most Valuable Player (MVP) Kia Nurse, and Grand Final MVP Olivia Epoupa, they were able to secure everyone else. Only young gun Gemma Potter departed the club for College in the United States, whilst the big guns such as co-captains Marianna Tolo and Kelsey Griffin, Keely Froling and Maddison Rocci all re-signed.

In terms of their inclusions, the Capitals added some extra strength to the line-up with Tahlia Tupaea and Brittany Smart both making the move from Sydney Uni Flames. Hannah Kaser was the other WNBL player to switch allegiances, coming from Adelaide Lightning, while Jade Melbourne took the step up from the AIS and Ashley Taia earned a contract following her QSL season. Abby Cubilo, Alex Delaney and Mikaela Ruef were the other players to re-sign with the reigning premiers.

WHY THEY CAN WIN IT:

They have continuity in their team, they will have a fully fit Griffin and the team knows what it takes to win the title. They have done it twice back-to-back and the team is largely the same minus their couple of imports. If their young guns can step up, they are every chance.

WHY THEY CAN’T WIN IT:

Southside Flyers have brought in some imposing players, while Melbourne Boomers have not got any worse. It will be interesting to see if the Capitals can cover the loss of Nurse and Epoupa this season which will go a long way to determining their fortunes in 2020.

CHANGES:

INS: Tahlia Tupaea, Brittany Smart (Sydney Uni), Hannah Kaser (Adelaide), Jade Melbourne (NBL1), Ashley Taia (QSL)
OUTS: Kia Nurse, Olivia Epoupa, Gemma Potter (International)
RE-SIGNINGS: Marianna Tolo, Kelsey Griffin, Keely Froling, Maddison Rocci, Abby Cubilo, Alex Delaney, Mikaela Ruef

POTENTIAL STARTING FIVE:

Tahlia Tupaea
Maddison Rocci
Keely Froling
Kelsey Griffin
Marianna Tolo

>> UC Capitals team preview

PREDICTION: 1st-3rd

The UC Capitals are too good not to be there at the pointy end. They are a superb team, and whilst the Flyers will be hard to beat with all their firepower, expect the Capitals to give it a red hot crack and go for a three-peat. If they can play at the level they are capable of, they are the best chance of winning another flag.

Melbourne Boomers

The Melbourne Boomers have gone close the last couple of years, but have not been able to come away with any silverware. Remaining one of the most solid units over the off-season, the Boomers only lost a trio of young guns, whilst picking up a top talent from Townsville. Paige Price (Bendigo), Monique Conti (Southside) and Chelsea D’Angelo (Achilles, released) were the three main departures from the club, with the Boomers always relying on Australian talent, so the import rule did not impact them as much as other sides.

Madeleine Garrick, Cayla George, Ezi Magbegor and Kalani Purcell form a dominant four, and throw in the Fire’s Tess Madgen who has made the move to the Boomers, and Guy Molloy will head in with another title-contending unit. Antonia Farnworth, Penina Davidson, Stella Beck and Rachel Brewster re-signed as well as a number of state-league talents, including Tall Black shooter Ashleigh Karaitiana who could prove important coming off the bench.

WHY THEY CAN WIN IT:

The Boomers are a settled unit with very few changes to the side that has challenged the last couple of years. The addition of Madgen is a positive one, and it is hard to see them not at least giving it a crack, even if they do fall short again.

WHY THEY CAN’T WIN IT:

Southside and UC Capitals still have the firepower, though the Boomers might be on par with the Capitals given their losses over the off-season. The Flyers will be hard to beat on paper, but the continuity of the Boomers over a short season might help.

CHANGES:

INS: Tess Madgen (Townsville), Eliza Wright, Hope Terdich, Rachel Antoniadou (NBL1), Ashleigh Karaitiana (QSL)
OUTS: Paige Price (Bendigo), Monique Conti (Southside), Chelsea D’Angelo (Achilles)
RE-SIGNINGS: Madeleine Garrick, Cayla George, Ezi Magbegor, Kalani Purcell, Antonia Farnworth, Penina Davidson, Stella Beck, Rachel Brewster

POTENTIAL STARTING FIVE:

Maddie Garrick
Tess Madgen
Ezi Magbegor
Kalani Purcell
Cayla George

>> Melbourne Boomers preview

PREDICTION: 1st-4th

The Melbourne Boomers are a tough team to beat, and it will take the best of the Flyers and Capitals to get it done. They are certainly among the top sides in the competition, and whilst the Flyers are deserving favourites, the Boomers have enough talent to step up in big games.

Adelaide Lightning

Even though the Lightning might be lower down on this list, there is genuine hope they can repeat their last two season and make finals. The loss of veteran, Lauren Nicholson would have hurt the Lightning, with Steph Blicavs the other massive out for the Lightning. Both players headed off to the east coast to play with Townsville and Southside, though the one benefit is that Blicavs missed last season due to her pregnancy, so effectively Nicholson is the only starting five net out. The other two that were due to come in but have since had to be released were state league talent Jasmin Fejo (pregnancy) and college graduate Alanna Smith (ankle) who would have provided some excitement. Natalie Hurst (retired), Jessie Edwards (Perth), Jessie Rintala (Bendigo) and Hannah Kaser (UC Capitals) were the others to depart.

The Lightning have brought in some vital experience though, with Sydney Uni’s Alex Wilson expected to slot into the guard spot alongside Perth’s Marena Whittle making that a pretty handy, and most importantly steady duo. Steph Talbot and Chelsea Brook provide some strength and consistency through the forwards, and whilst Brook might start as the five, bringing in another veteran in Louella Tomlinson from Southside means Brook might slide to the four. Abby Wehrung is a pretty handy sixth player, with some impressive state leaguers in Carlie Smith and Ella Batish also joining, and a quartet of international young talents in Taylor Ortlepp, Morgan Yaeger, Brooke Basham and Aimee Brett returning to Australia.

WHY THEY CAN WIN IT:

Despite losing Nicholson and Blicavs, the damage to the team from last season that was effectively done was just Nicholson out, and a mix of youth and experience in. They have enough versatility to get the job done and bringing in veterans helps steady the team and allow them to gel quicker. This season should be more competitive and could allow for some upset wins.

WHY THEY CAN’T WIN IT:

In a short season it still will take a little time to gel and adding extra talent to the starting five is great, but it will be interesting to see how they fare against the top three teams. They need a lot to go right to knock them off.

CHANGES:

IN: Marena Whittle (Perth), Taylor Ortlepp, Morgan Yaeger, Brooke Basham, Aimee Brett (International), Louella Tomlinson (Southside), Carlie Smith (QSL), Alex Wilson (Sydney Uni), Abby Wehrung (Bendigo), Ella Batish (NBL1)
OUT:  Lauren Nicholson (Townsville), Jessie Edwards (Perth), Jessie Rintala (Bendigo), Steph Blicavs (Southside), Hannah Kaser (UC Capitals), Natalie Hurst (retired)
RE-SIGNED: Steph Talbot, Chelsea Brook

POTENTIAL STARTING FIVE:

Alex Wilson
Marena Whittle
Steph Talbot
Chelsea Brook
Louella Tomlinson

>> Adelaide Lightning team preview

PREDICTION: 4th-6th

Overall the Lightning are not to be underestimated. There is every chance they force their way into the four. In a short season with a quick turnaround between games, it will be interesting to see how they first gel, and secondly deal with the body management given some of their older talents. Still an outside contender.

WNBL Player Spotlight – Adelaide Lightning – Jasmin Fejo

PERHAPS one of next season’s breakout young guards, Jasmin Fejo will look to take the Women’s National Basketball League (WNBL) by storm when she signs on as a rostered player for the Adelaide Lightning next season. Fejo will rely on her pace and speed when she sizes up against some of the Australia’s elite basketballers after displaying numerous impressive stints in the NBL1 Central division over the last few years.

Beginning her play at Portside Christian during her high school days, Fejo earned a coveted spot for South Australia Metro in 2017 at the National Under 18 Championships, which preceded competing in the same tournament’s Under 20 age bracket later down the track. Following what was a stellar junior circuit for the 20-year-old, it was time to take her journey to the next stage and start to transition to the professional level.

Back in 2016, it was announced that former WNBL legend Rachel Sporn would ply her mentoring traits to a new basketball academy, to help progress the next wave of South Australia’s finest ballers. Fejo was a part of that squad for a few years. In the meantime, Fejo started to refine her game competitively in South Australia’s state-wide competition, the Premier League.

Perhaps her best night on record with the West Adelaide Bearcats came in 2019, where Fejo produced a career-high night from the field, accumulating 40 points in a single game against the South Adelaide Panthers. This performance was indicative of her season as a whole, as Fejo rose to prominence throughout the 2019 season. Awarded the Merv Harris for being the best player under 21 years of age in the competition, she was also be awarded an All-Star Five selection to round out a spectacular 2019 year whilst shooting an exemplary 42.7 per cent leading to 15.6 points per contest.

Major aspects of Fejo’s game are her quickness and her ability to get out on the fast-break and cause substantial damage before the opposition defence even has the chance to get set. For Fejo herself, she knows what her strengths can offer to the Lightning and she is excited to be able showcase this to head coach Chris Lucas.

“I can get up in the lanes of the offence team, also using my speed and court supervision to blow past players and bring my teammates into the game,” Fejo said. “I would describe my playing style as aggressive, not selfish, and hard-working so I am always willing to put my body on the line for the team.”

Following the ongoing contracts of both Steph Talbot and Chelsea Brook as well as the signing of WNBA superstar Alanna Smith, Fejo became the fourth known member of the Lightning’s squad for WNBL21. The Adelaide faithful are hopeful that the debutant can produce in what will be an unprecedented season up in North Queensland come November 12.

WNBL Free Agency Update: Flyers and Lightning

ALTHOUGH they did not finish the way the would have liked, the Southside Flyers and Adelaide Lightning are two teams that had impressive WNBL20 campaigns, making it to the playoffs. While both the Flyers and the Lightning had countless highlights during the regular season, the Lightning were handed a series sweep knocked out of the postseason early. For Southside, it was a picture-perfect season leading up to the Grand Final series, finishing with a season-best record (17-4) in their inaugural campaign under the Flyers moniker, whereas the Lightning would round out a solid top-four group, with a 12-9 record of their own. Southside knocked over Adelaide in the semis, which was then for the Flyers followed up by an untimely exit thanks to the UC Capitals in the penultimate series.

SOUTHSIDE FLYERS

The Southside Flyers organisation has made less announcements in comparison to the seven other sides regarding their WNBL21 team, but it is evident what their initial intentions have been over the last couple of months.

For Cheryl Chambers and her staff, their initial moves were to consolidate their marquee players, which kicked off in early June when they re-signed their captain and Opals selectee Jenna O’Hea. O’Hea underwent an agonisingly frustrating 2020 season after breaking her wrist on January 12 against the Melbourne Boomers. Thankfully for O’Hea, she made her return to the side just in time for their Grand Final series against the Capitals, despite the Flyers going down in two games. She will look forward to leading the side for at least another season.

Up next on the Flyers “to-get” list, was 28-year-old Rebecca Cole. Cole averaged an elite-level season and was instrumental in the Flyers’ starting five acting as an essential member in getting Southside to the postseason. Averaging 17.3 points per game, four assists and 3.6 rebounds, Cole wreaked havoc on opposition defences throughout 25 games last season and will look to do it again for the Flyers’ second season. The third of Southside’s five signings to this point is forward Sara Blicavs. Blicavs has become one of the most prominent two-way players in the WNBL to this day, and this was further compounded after a solid campaign last season. With the 27-year-old averaging 13.4 points, seven rebounds and 1.3 steals per contest, it does not surprise many that Southside would look to her services for another season.

Stepping into some big shoes after the injury of O’Hea in the later stages of last season, Aimie Clydesdale proved what she was worth to the side, culminating in an 18-point performance in Game 2 of their semi-final series with the Lightning. The Flyers have added her to their roster for next season and will look to give her extended minutes as her development continues.

However, Southside saved their big announcement for their fifth addition to the team. On August 18 they revealed that Australian basketball legend, Liz Cambage, was returning to the WNBL for the first time in three years. A major factor in this was the restrictions that the COVID-19 pandemic has placed on the league, as the Flyers are no longer able to reinstate rebounding machine Mercedes Russell as an import for next season. Cambage, who was a member of the Dandenong Rangers back in 2007, will have feelings of nostalgia as she returns to the suburb where it all began.

With more than half of the team yet to be announced, there could be an influx of young and developing talent to join the ranks for the upcoming season in November, as the senior members of the squad have committed to the Flyers for hopefully another championship push.

Contracted:

Nil

Re-signed:

Jenna O’Hea
Rebecca Cole
Sara Blicavs
Aimie Clydesdale

Signed:

Elizabeth Cambage

 

ADELAIDE LIGHTNING

To round out the Free Agency updates for last season’s finals participants, we look at the Adelaide Lightning, as they look to move past the semi-finals next season.

After losing star international Brianna Turner due to import restrictions, Adelaide made up for that in another WNBA prospect, one who is more familiar with the land down-under. Touted by the franchise as the biggest signing in the Lightning’s history since Suzy Batkovic a decade ago, the acquisition of Phoenix Mercury power forward Alanna Smith has many of Adelaide’s faithful shaking with excitement. Earning regular appearances in this season’s WNBA and completing a successful four-year career at Stanford University, not much gets away from Smith if history shows anything.

Head coach Chris Lucas now needed to form the rest of his squad around their new marquee signing, and he would not need to look too far to begin this. Jasmin Fejo, a member of the NBL1’s Adelaide Bearcats joined contracted players Chelsea Brook and Steph Talbot as a part of the Adelaide Lightning in late-June. Fejo garnered state-wide attention after a phenomenal 2019 season in the South Australia Premier League, particularly after a 40-point performance against the South Adelaide Panthers in that same season. After the strong stint, she was rewarded the Merv Harris medal for being the best player under the age of 21 and was named to the competition’s All-Star Five after averaging 15.6 points and shooting at a clip of 42.7 per cent.

The two most recent procurements for Adelaide was South Australian-born Boston College alum, Taylor Ortlepp, who signed a two-year deal with the club at the start of July, and 26-year-old Perth Lynx utility player Marena Whittle who averaged over 10.3 points, 4.8 rebounds per game, while shooting at a rate of 43.6 per cent behind the arc last season.

With the announcement of recently retired Nat Hurst to become the Lightning’s assistant coach and further additions to be revealed to the team in the near future for WNBL21, championship contenders will have no choice but to take Adelaide seriously, when they square off with the side.

Contracted:

Chelsea Brook
Steph Talbot

Re-signed:

Nil

Signed:

Alanna Smith
Jasmin Fejo
Taylor Ortlepp
Marena Whittle

WNBL Free Agency: Schwagmeyer heads east as clubs sign developing stars

A PERTH Lynx talent heads east, and some college young guns return to their home states to bolster the Women’s National Basketball League (WNBL) with the Free Agency Period continuing over the past week where we update you since the last update. Of the eight teams, seven made changes with only reigning premiers, University of Canberra (UC) Capitals not featuring due to having done a lot of the heavy lifting (re-signing) early in the period.

Adelaide Lightning:

The Lightning have been able to sign Jasmin Fejo and Taylor Ortlepp over the past weeks to add to their roster for the 2020/21 WNBL season. Fejo had a strong season in the South Australian Premier League competition for West Adelaide in 2019, averaging 16.2 points, 2.5 assists, 5.1 rebounds and 2.4 steals for the Bearcats. Ortlepp is one to watch for the Lightning ahead of the season having finished her college days at Boston where she averaged 20.1 minutes and 3.7 points per game after missing 10 games at the start of the season. She returns back to her home state where she grew up.

Bendigo Spirit:

The Spirit have looked to their own program to pick up promising young star Piper Dunlop from the Melbourne United Victorian Junior Basketball League (MUVJBL) side, Bendigo Braves. A developing future Opals star who has already gone through the national team program in her junior years. Last year the forward stepped up to represent the Braves off the bench on two occasions in the NBL1, scoring a total of four points and two rebounds in that time. She is one who can provide good support off the bench, and over the years really start to get more minutes on court.

Melbourne Boomers:

The Boomers recent Free Agency moves have involved re-signing New Zealand duo, Kalani Purcell and Antonia Farnworth. The 187cm forward came off the bench in 23 games last season, averaging 4.4 points, 4.5 rebounds, 2.1 assists and 1.5 steals last season in the WNBL for the Boomers. Farnworth crossed the country from Perth Lynx ahead of last season and while she had less game time to average 2.6 points and 1.5 rebounds for the Boomers, her field goal accuracy went up. She will be hoping for more court time in the guard spots.

Perth Lynx:

Perth has re-signed some height with 191cm forward-center Maddison Allen returning to the club for the 2020/21 WNBL season. After only starting in one game in the 2018/19 season with the Lynx, that number rose to 16 last season, and playing a total of 21, lifting her numbers per game across the board. She averaged the 4.4 points, 5.2 rebounds, 1.2 assists and 1.8 blocks per game.

Southside Flyers:

The biggest re-signing of the past week has been Southside’s ability to bring back Rebecca Cole for another year. Having signed with the Flyers after previously playing with Dandenong Rangers, she averaged 16.8 points, 3.7 rebounds, 3.9 assists and 1.4 steals per game in season 2019/20. Cole is a vital member of the starting side for the Flyers, shooting at an strong 49 per cent from the field, and 36 per cent from long range.

Sydney Uni Flames:

The only signing who crossed from one WNBL side to another in the past week has been Alison Schwagmeyer who crossed the country from Perth Lynx to the Flames. The Sixth Player of the Year has plenty of experience and nous coming off the bench for the Lynx and will add that to the improving Flames. The American came off the bench on nine occasions – starting another nine games – to average 15.3 points, 5.6 rebounds and 1.9 assists per game, an increase in both points and rebounds despite having less time on court. She is a valuable member of any team and will add an extra element to the Flames this season.

Townsville Fire:

The Fire signed Courtney Woods from the Northern Illinois University (NIU) Huskies in what could be a massive signing for Townsville. Another college talent who returns to her home state of Queensland, Woods broke some serious records at NIU, becoming the All-Time Leader in three pointers made and games played, as well as second all-time at NIU for overall points scored. She made 105 three-pointers in a season to break that season record as well for NIU, so comes back to Australia with some serious talent to burn. To put her 2019/20 college year in perspective, she put up numbers of 22.1 points, 7.9 rebounds and 3.3 assists. If she can live up to her potential, Woods would have a huge shot at being one of the rising stars of the competition.

NBL1 Central Team summary: West Adelaide

THE National Basketball League (NBL)1 competition was cancelled for the 2020 season, so instead we take a look back at some of the teams that would have been tipping off in the NBL1 Central competition. Today’s side is West Adelaide who proved they have plenty of talent amongst the ranks but just need to find some consistency to go that step further.

SEASON SUMMARY

Finish: 5
Win: 12
Loss: 8

TOP PLAYERS

 JASMIN FEJO

Statistics: 16.2 points, 2.5 assists, 5.1 rebounds, 2.4 steals
Shooting: 53.4% (2pt), 28.4% (3pt), 72.6% (FT)

Across the 18 games she played, Fejo was a key cog in the Bearcats unit with her ability to hit the scoreboard and get involved defensively averaging an impressive 2.4 steals a game. Fejo was never far from the action sinking 16.2 points a game and most importantly was accurate from inside the arc sitting at over 50 per cent. Her skill from the charity line was also unquestionable nailing 72.6 per cent of her chances and while she will be hoping to build on her accuracy from three-point range proved she was reliable in other areas.

ASHLEIGH SPENCER

Statistics: 12.2 points, 2.2 assists, 6.1 rebounds, 1.2 steals
Shooting: 40.5% (2pt), 34.2% (3pt), 66% (FT)

Spencer was one of the most reliable players to take the court for the Bearcats throughout their 2019 campaign playing every game. She averaged 24.8 minutes per game and was a main source of scoring power for her side dropping an average of 12.2 points each time she stepped out on court. Although she was not as accurate at Fejo from inside the arc her ability to hit a three was stronger sinking 25 from 73 attempts at 34.2 per cent. With her scoring prowess on show, Spencer also showed that she was strong on the rebound brining down an average of 6.1 per game.

SKY LANGENBRINCK

Statistics: 10.9 points, 2.1 assists, 3.8 rebounds, 1.3 steals
Shooting: 41.6% (2pt), 15.1% (3pt), 61% (FT)

After featuring in every game of the season Langenbrinck averaged 24.3 minutes on the court and was an influential player able to light up the court with her scoring ability. She averaged 10.9 points a game and while she struggle when it came to converting from beyond the perimeter her nous to sink them from the charity line was evident. Her rebounding ability was strong bringing down 3.8 a game while her cleanliness to get a hand in and steal the ball was a key component of her game play. 

HIGHLIGHT OF THE SEASON: ELIMINATION FINAL

Although they did not get the outcome they were hoping for, the sheer fact the Bearcats made it to the elimination finals is a feat in itself. Going down by a heartbreaking two points, West Adelaide showcased their never say die attitude, grit and determination to put up a real fight and take it to Mt Gambier. Langenbrinck led from the front as per usual, knocking back an impressive 22 points while Spencer (15 points), Fejo (10 points) and Alexis Eckles (10 points) left nothing to chance in what was unfortunately their last outing for the season. while it was a devastating loss, the Bearcats will take plenty of confidence and belief out of their performance.

BEST WIN: NARROW ROUND 19 VICTORY OVER THE MAVERICKS

Up against the higher placed Eastern Mavericks the Bearcats well and truly took it to them in Round 19 showcasing their desperation to make it to finals and execution to prevail in a tight contest. Standing up under the pressure the Bearcats collected a five-point win with the likes of Jasmin Fejo (17 points) leading the way for her side. Valuable contributions from teammates Kristina Arsenic who sunk 15 points, Spencer 12 and Tahlia Fejo 10 points also helped to get them over the line in the dying stages of the game.

SUMMARY:

Making it to finals albeit bundled out in the elimination finals, West Adelaide clearly have a good core group of players that can dictate the way the team plays and their dominance. But the inclusion of another scoring prospect or a strong defensive minded player will help give the Bearcats that added strength to hopefully progress further in finals next season.

NBL1 Central Women’s preview: Round 1 – Rockets and Flames to light up opening round

WITH a number of predicted blockbusters, the new era of the National Basketball League (NBL)1 is filled with intrigue and excitement as imports come and go and some consistent local players shape the NBL1 Central competition.

NORTH ADELAIDE ROCKETS vs. NORWOOD FLAMES
The Lights | Women @ 7pm | Men @ 8.45pm

In our featured game for the women’s competition, two sides that had disappointing years in 2019 are tipped to shoot up the ladder thanks to some impressive inclusions. North Adelaide host the game at The Lights with tip-off from 7pm and no doubt a big crowd will gather to watch the Rockets try and improve on their ninth placed finish considering their famed history of a record-breaking 21 titles. Adelaide Lightning’s Danni Angley is a huge recruit to the side, having plucked her from the Sabres last season following a really balanced year that saw her pick up more than 10 points, and five rebounds and assists per game. She joins playmaker, Sam Defrancesco and big, Tayla Corrigan with the pair providing plenty of assistance in the front and back courts respectively. Given the Rockets were arguably lacking that extra cream on top, the inclusion of Angley would give the North Adelaide fans plenty of hope for the season ahead.

If Angley is a strong recruit, then Norwood is a team that can lay claim to topping that, with the inclusion of league best and fairest in Carmen Tyson-Thomas. The former Mavericks star topped the league in points per game (27.6), but also averaged a double-double across the board with 12.3 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 1.9 steals per game. She is the most in-form player in the competition going off last seasons form, and the Rockets will need to find a way to guard the scoring machine. Though the Flames – who finished seventh last season – are far from a one player side, with Kelsey McKay likely to step up alongside Shannon Webber, while a number of young talents will look to make their mark on the competition. North Adelaide will start favourites, but if Tyson-Thomas can get off the chain, then watch out for the Flames.

EASTERN MAVERICKS vs. WEST ADELAIDE BEARCATS
St Francis | Women @ 6.30pm | Men @ 8.15pm

A big question mark hangs over the Mavericks following the departure of Tyson-Thomas from the ranks after a massive first season in the competition. They are yet to confirm their full list, but a fellow import, Stephanie Ratliff will lead a young, developing side into battle this weekend. They will be up against it this year to try and recreate the strong form of last season, but Brooke Basham is a proven talent in the side along with Ratliff as they hope to remain in contention in 2020. Meanwhile West Adelaide will be favourites in this game, with Jasmin Fejo and Jennie Rintalla to team up as the strong Adelaide 36ers duo. Sky Langenbrinck will be a consistent rebounder in the side, whilst a number of young talents will counter the same youthful enthusiasm from the Mavericks.

FORESTVILLE EAGLES vs. WOODVILLE WARRIORS
Wayville | Women @6.45pm | Men @ 8.30pm

The reigning premiers will unveil their title in front of home fans with a match against Woodville tipping off at 6.45pm. The Eagles have lost Chelsea Roberts who was a prominent player in the premiership campaign, but Gabi Vidmar is an absolute star who cannot be ignored. Along with Vidmar, Amy Cotton teams up with some great work off the boards, while Rebekah Frisby-Smith and Ambah Kowcun who have some serious X-factor and great potential for the future as young talents. Woodville has snapped up former Flames star, Cheyenne North after enticing her to move from the club with Tyson-Thomas heading there, and will join a team that will be crying out for a star playmaker with the departure of Teige Morrell. Fellow Flames’ teammate Chloe Purvis has joined North at the Warriors and could be a big improver this season and will be one to watch as well.

SOUTH ADELAIDE PANTHERS vs. SOUTHERN TIGERS
Marion | Women @ 7pm | Men @ 8.45pm

South Adelaide has a lot of change from its second last position in 2019, with Brianti Saunders out of the side after a huge year last season. The Panthers have looked to the likes of Ashley Spencer and Olivia Thompson who have both been recruited to the club and immediately added to the top-end talent, while Mollie McKendrick is a rock of consistency for the side during its tough campaign last year and will be looking to give the home fans something to smile about in this encounter. The Tigers have also pulled out a big gun by recruiting WNBL talent and former Woodville star, Morrell to the club. She will be a formidable player in the line-up, especially with the departure of TaRea Cunnigan. With Dennelle Fawcett, Isabella Stratford and Jemma Thacker in the line-up, the Tigers should push for a finals spot this year and be favourites in the clash, but we will learn a lot about both of these sides from this first round encounter.

STURT SABRES vs. CENTRAL DISTRICT LIONS
Pasadena | Women @ 7pm | Men @ 8.45pm

To close out the round at Pasadena, Sturt Sabres hosts Central District Lions in a game that the Sabres must win to start their season off on a high. No doubt the organisation will be ruing a missed opportunity for their sixth flag last season after finishing minor premiers but losing in a three-point heartbreaker to Forestville in the decider. While the Sabres might have lost Angley to fellow contender North Adelaide, Sturt has pulled out a huge signing in Nicole Seekamp from the Lightning in the Women’s National Basketball League (WNBL) and she could go close to the league best and fairest if on song. Along with Ruby Porter and Kylee Smith, the Sabres are in a healthy position to be contending again despite Angley’s departure. After a one-win season in 2019, the only way is up for Central District with the Lions yet to confirm the full list. Jazmen Boone and Leah Swain were a couple of impressive players despite the overwhelming odds stacked against them last season, but the younger brigade will need to step up if they are to have a better season in 2020. Sturt should have no troubles in this game, but the unknown quantity of the Lions makes it an exciting contest.

NBL1 Central Women’s 2020 season preview

THE countdown is on to the National Basketball League (NBL)1 season, and we take a look at the Central women’s competition and go team-by-team for the season ahead. Historically North Adelaide is the strongest team with a massive 21 titles – 12 more than their nearest rival – whilst Forestville Eagles have the most of this century and will be hoping to go back-to-back with a victory in this year’s competition. A number of changes have made the new rebrand of the former South Australian Premier League an interesting one for the year ahead which tips off this weekend.

Central District Lions

Team: No announced players yet
2019: 11th (1-18)
Titles: 0

Yet to win a title, the Central District Lions will be keen for more success under the rebrand. In 2019, the Lions unfortunately finished last and will be hoping to improve in season 2020. In particular, the Lions won just one game from 19 matches in the women’s, and with the official announcement on the finalised list yet to come via the NBL1 website, there is still a great unknown about the side. Among the top players in 2019 were Jazmen Boone (21.3 points, 12.7 rebounds, 3.2 steals and 2.6 assists) and Leah Swain (11.3 points, 7.7 rebounds and 1.1 blocks), while Niroshka Perez-Crespo (13.4 points, 2.8 rebounds and 1.1 steals) also contributed as the other one to record double-figure points. They will come in as the underdogs for season 2020 with nothing to lose and will hope to surprise a few teams.

Eastern Mavericks

Team: No announced players yet
2019: 3rd (14-6) – Semi-final exit
Titles: 0

The other women’s side yet to officially announce a team and without a women’s title to its name, the Eastern Mavericks had an impressive season in 2019, finishing third on the table before suffering a heart-breaking three-point loss to Mt Gambier Pioneers in the semi-finals. A large reason for their success was the unstoppable nature of Carmen Tyson-Thomas who was a scoring machine ranked number one in the competition with 27.6 points per game across 21 matchers. She also pulled in 12.3 rebounds per game, as well as 3.5 assists and 1.9 steals. Unfortunately for the Mavericks, Tyson-Thomas has departed the club to join Norwood Flames which will be a disappointing result for the Mavericks, with Brooke Basham (16.7 points, 4.4 rebounds, 2.8 assists and 2.0 steals) a key player in 2019, and Stephanie Ratliff (9.7 points, 11.8 rebounds) enormous off the boards. The loss of Tyson-Thomas will be a big one and it will be fascinating to see how the Mavericks build their rotations this season.

Forestville Eagles

Team: Cheyann Ashworth, Aimee Brett, Montanna Briggs, Amy Cotton, Rebekah Frisby-Smith, Zali Grosser, Lucy Knight, Ambah Kowcun, Ruby Luders, Gabi Vidmar, Charlotte Viner, Jemma Westhoff
2019: 2nd (14-6) – Premiers
Titles: 9

The Eagles are the reigning champions in the South Australian Premier League and will hope to bring that success across to the newly-branded competition. They have been the most successful club in this century, having won a combined 13 titles between the Eagles’ men’s and women’s sides since 2000. In the decider last year, the Eagles got up over Sturt Sabres by just three points in an upset result in the women’s competition having lost to them in the semi-finals. Last year Chelsea Roberts was a standout player but has not been named for this season, with Gabi Vidmar the next highest points-scorer courtesy of 10.3 points, 4.0 rebounds, 2.7 assists and 1.7 steals per game. There might be some question marks over whether or not the Eagles can get up to the level again with Roberts, Oceania Hamilton and Ella Sawyer all out of the team (three of the top five scorers), though Amy Cotton‘s work off the boards (8.2 points, 6.1 rebounds) will be handy this year.

North Adelaide Rockets

Team: Danni Angley, Abi Mader, Tayla Corrigan, Tia Bails, Jess Good, Sam Defrancesco, Courtney Hansen, Lauren Thornett, Taylor Goggins, Beth Dittmar, Anna Plew, Leah Metcalf, Ana Botei, Claudia Hatcher, Courtney Gutschmidt
2019: 9th (6-14)
Titles: 21

Historically, North Adelaide is the most successful women’s side with a remarkable 21 titles to its name, including a golden era of six titles in eight seasons between 1964-1971, a four-peat from 1988-1991 and a three-peat from 1975-1977. However since the turn of the century, North Adelaide has won just three titles, but the most recent came two seasons ago in 2018. The Rockets were a fair way off the pace in season 2019, winning just six from 20 and remaining above South Adelaide by two wins, but still a heap of goal difference between themselves and eighth placed Woodville Warriors. Adelaide Lightning’s Danni Angley will be a huge addition to the side, having crossed from grand finalists, Sturt Sabres. In 2019, Angley averaged 11.7 points, 5.4 rebounds and 4.9 assists and should help improve the quality at the club. She joins the unique duo of playmaker, Sam Defrancesco (13.7 points, 5.3 assists and 1.3 steals) and rebounder, Tayla Corrigan (12.8 points, 9.5 rebounds, 1.6 steals and 1.2 blocks) in what will be a formidable trio in season 2020. Abi Mader is another one to watch out for, still putting up solid numbers of 10.8 points, 3.4 rebounds and 1.0 steals per game. Based on Angley’s inclusion, the Rockets should take off this season.

Norwood Flames

Team: Carmen Tyson-Thomas, Aimee Herimann, Alyce Thomas, Cara Annetts, Chloe Webley, Georgia Thomson, Jessica Von Einem, Kelsey McKay, Lauren Spangler, Mia Valk, Paige Keenihan, Shannon Webber, Tara Giradi, Taylor Prenzler
2019: 7th (11-9)
Titles: 8

Norwood is primed to be among the contenders to add to its eight titles with the recruitment of Tyson-Thomas to the Flames in 2020. As the premier scorer in the state competition, she adds another dimension to the side that finished seventh in 2019, though in fairness was a little unlucky, missing out on a finals spot by one win, and still being five wins clear of the bottom four. Returning to the Flames for 2020 will be Cara Annetts (14.1 points, 7.1 rebounds and 1.3 steals) and Shannon Webber (11.9 points, 5.0 rebounds and 3.1 assists) with Tess Bruffey and Cheyenne North both departing after being regulars in the starting line-up. Tyson-Thomas will be good for about 25 points extra per game and cover the loss of those departures, and it would be surprising not to see Norwood in the finals with a clear improvement on the roster, departure of Mt Gambier Pioneers and the clear drop of Eastern Mavericks. The team to watch in 2020.

South Adelaide Panthers

Team: Casey Harnett, Mollie McKendrick, Ashleigh Spencer, Olivia Thompson, Darby Maggard, Jordan Smith, Elizabeth Petrie, Tayla Watson, Georgina Wirth, Phoebe Wittwer-Smith, Tamika Lindsay, Harriet Cox, Lauren Hoffman, Teresa McGreehan, Erina Marafioti
2019: 10th (4-15)
Titles: 1

After winning a title in the second year of the state league way back in 1958, South Adelaide has had a dry spell in the women’s competition, now stretching beyond 60 years without a title. The Panthers will hope to change that in 2020, but will need to drastically improve on their 4-15 win-loss record which was second last overall on the table. The loss of Brianti Saunders (18.7 points, 6.0 rebounds, 2.4 assists and 1.7 steals) who was their star player last season, as well as the limited impact of Adelaide AFL Women’s cross-coder Anne Hatchard (16.6 points, 10.8 rebounds off five games) due to those commitments means they will need to find a way to cover them. Mollie McKendrick (16.7 points, 8.7 rebounds, 3.4 assists and 1.2 steals) was the other player to record double-figure points and will be the main focal point for the team in offense and off the boards, while West Adelaide recruit Ashleigh Spencer (12.2 points, 6.1 rebounds) has been brought in to assist her in that facet of the game, as has Forestville’s Olivia Thompson.

Southern Tigers

Team: Teige Morrell, Isabella Stratford, Jemma Thacker, Denelle Fawcett, Jade Redmon, Margot Hall, Brittany Winter, Madi Round, Bianca McCalop
2019: 6th (12-8)
Titles: 5

Known as the Noarlunga City Tigers, the team has won the one title – in 2017 – since simplifying it to Southern Tigers, to accompany the four titles under the previous name. A three-peat between 1984-1986 was a golden part of the club’s history and no doubt the modern players will hope to build that again. They narrowly missed out on a finals spot last season, finishing one spot outside the top five in sixth, just 31 points behind West Adelaide on differential and showed they were not too far off the mark. Despite the departure of TaRea Cunnigan (18.9 points, 6.6 rebounds, 2.2 assists and 2.1 steals), the Tigers have found a massive inclusion to the team to replace her in Bendigo Spirit and Woodville Warriors’ Teige Morrell. She averaged 21.7 points, 13.1 rebounds, 2.7 assists, 1.4 steals and 1.4 blocks as one of the stars of the competition. Combining her with the likes of Denelle Fawcett (14.4 points, 7.3 rebounds, 3.3 assists and 1.8 steals), Isabella Stratford (12.1 points, 4.9 rebounds) and Jemma Thacker (11.3 points, 5.1 rebounds and 2.3 assists) will be hard to stop for any side. Like Norwood, a team to watch that will likely force its way into the finals series.

Sturt Sabres

Team: Kedeisha Kartinyeri, Emily Close, Jasmin Rigoni, Natasha Van Der Wolf, Lauren Gibbons, Meg Prosser, Zoe Walker-Roberts, Jade Johnson, Nicole Seekamp, Soriah Moon, Kayla Matthews, Kylee Smith, Hannah Griffin, Ruby Porter, Nicola Matthews
2019: 1st (15-5) – Runners-up
Titles: 5

Last year’s minor premiers suffered a heart-breaking three-point loss in the grand final to Forestville Eagles and will be determined to bounce back and go one better in 2020. The Sabres have a strong junior program which will filter through to senior level, and while they last won a title in 2008, are always thereabouts in the competition stakes. They have lost Angley to North Adelaide, but gained the biggest inclusion of all with Nicole Seekamp coming on board following a strong WNBL showing. She averaged 11.0 points, 4.2 rebounds, 8.0 assists and 1.2 steals last season for the Adelaide Lightning and has the potential to tear the state league apart with so many of her peers in the WNBL playing in the South conference. She is joined by Ruby Porter who was at the Sabres last season, putting up numbers of 7.6 points coming off the bench, then earning a place on the Lightning’s list. Kylee Smith (18.2 points, 10.6 rebounds, 2.9 assists and 1.1 steals), Kayla Matthews (11.1 points, 3.4 rebounds and 3.2 assists) and cross-coder with Glenelg in the SANFL Women’s competition, Soraiah Moon (6.5 rebounds) are all back again for another year where Sturt should be the team to beat.

West Adelaide Bearcats

Team: Abby Brenton, Jasmin Fejo, Chloe Hodges, Jordan Hunter, Ellie Janssen-Holton, Staci Kennedy, Sky Langenbrinck, Michaela Lappin, Alex Pearce, Keeley Pearce, Rebecca McLeod, Georgia Petrenko, Jennie Rintala, Isabella Woosnam, Stana Zecevic
2019: 5th (12-8) – Elimination final exit
Titles: 7

West Adelaide is the most successful men’s side, whilst the women’s team has seven titles to its name. All bar one came prior to the 1994 season, with the only title in the past 26 years coming in 2007. The Bearcats managed to sneak into the finals with a superior points differential in 2019, but will be the hunted for that spot this year. Adelaide Lightning’s Jasmin Fejo returns to the team having been the top player for the side in 2019, averaging 16.2 points, 5.1 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 2.4 steals. In 2020 she will be without her partner-in-crime, Spencer who has headed to the Panthers. Coming into the side is fellow Lightning teammate, Jennie Rintala who will add an extra top-end talent on the court, while Sky Langenbrinck (12.2 points, 6.1 rebounds and 2.2 assists) will add to the scoring depth. Exciting prospects, Abby Brenton and Chloe Hodges have come up from the Under 18s and will be ones to watch this season in what will be  some great youth filtering through the side.

Woodville Warriors

Team: Ionna McKenzie, Cheyenne North, Serena Waters, Chloe Purvis, Eliza Joynes, Jessica Puvogel, Amy Horskins
2019: 8th (6-14)
Titles: 0

Another side without a title in the women’s competition, Woodville has a lot of question marks about the season ahead with just seven players confirmed via the NBL1 website. An eighth placed finish last year and a “best of the rest” in terms of those outside finals contention early on, the Warriors were fairly competitive throughout the season but did not quite pull off more favourable results. They have lost Morrell to Southern Tigers in what will be a huge blow to their chances, and with the four other players averaging more than four points per game also not named as of yet, it will be interesting to see how they go. Ionna McKenzie is a former Texas Tech representative, with fellow American import, Cheyenne North coming from Arkansas Tech. Chloe Purvis has crossed from Norwood where she averaged 5.5 points and 2.9 rebounds, while Eliza Joynes (6.7 points and 3.8 rebounds) and Amy Horskins has joined the Warriors from the Rockets. A lot of unknown about the Warriors and it will be interesting to see how the Americans adapt to the team this season.