LEFT: Lismore Storm’s Jess Ward. TARUM IMAGES
LEFT: Lismore Storm’s Jess Ward. TARUM IMAGES

Lismore Storm ready for Ballina

IT MAY be early in the season but there is plenty on the line when Lismore host Ballina in women’s State League Basketball tonight.

The Northern Rivers teams are locked together at the top of Pool A and only one can remain after the derby clash.

The Lismore Storm, stinging from a big loss to Coffs Harbour last start, will be boosted by the return of 2009 MVP Tami Willey.

A former professional in the WNBL with the Adelaide Lightning, the big American has coach Michael Willemsen excited.

“Her presence on the floor is massive,” Willemsen said.

“She is such a professional; everything she does has that touch of class to it and all the other girls lift a notch when she is out there with them.”

The 2009 scoring champion gave birth to her first child in the off-season but Willemsen is expecting her to be good to go from the opening whistle.

“Tami will dominate in the middle which is a big bonus for a side whose strength is in the open court,” he said.

While Willemsen will be instructing his squad to ‘get out and run the fast breaks’ as much as possible, he is expecting the sizey Breakers to attempt to slow the game down.

“We are certainly two different teams with different approaches so it will be interesting to see how it all pans out,” he said.

“Our front line is going to be shorter than Ballina’s but I expect our guards to get the upper hand.”

Meanwhile, the lady Breakers will be smarting from a forgettable last match where they were dealt a 60-point hiding, also by the Coffs Harbour Suns.

Coach Jason Bashforth will be looking for his floor leader Kellie Coates to help contain Willey while leading the way at the offensive end.

Coates was well contained in the big loss to the Suns, but expect things to turn around tonight.

“Things just weren’t going right last week, we just couldn’t seem to convert,” Bashforth said.

“But we have had some encouraging sessions at training through the week; hopefully we have done enough to get away with the win.”

Tip-off is at 7pm tonight at Lismore Basketball Stadium, Keen Street, Lismore.

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