Breakers to take on Vikings

AFTER a month-long hiatus from NSW State League basketball, the Thursday Plantation Ballina Breakers will return to the court tonight to take on NSW Country’s proudest club, the Grafton Vikings.

Breakers coach Marty Smith has his men poised for anything.

“The Vikings are part man, part myth,” Smith said.

“They have a team culture that is unique in basketball and has been built on some spectacular come-from-behind victories, but also through some equally amazing losses.

“You just don’t know what Vikings team is going to show.”

Despite a four-week lay-off, the Breakers have been hit by injury to a pair of key big men.

Centre Jayden Hetherington, who started the season in top form, and his back-up, Tom Butschies, are out.

Hetherington could be back from an ankle injury for the next game but his young protégé faces a month on the sidelines with a broken foot.

The injuries leave the Breakers with a void under the basket – the place where the Vikings’ biggest threat, Cameron Fishburn, will lurk.

Coach Smith knows Fishburn is the man to stop and will now entrust third-string big-man Michael Baggaley with the job.

The Lady Breakers are also in action tonight, facing Bellinger Valley from 6pm at Southern Cross K-12 School, East Ballina. The Breakers v Vikings game will follow at 7.30pm.

A full-strength Lismore Storm squad returns to State League women’s action against Tamworth tomorrow.

The Storm, with a 2-1 record, have had a month with no games, giving them time to usher players back into the line-up and work on combinations.

After a strong showing at the Under-18 national championships NSW Country representative Jess Ward returns to join forces with local junior reps Grace Amey and Emma Wilson.

Coach Michael Willemsen is looking forward to the clash, which will separate the teams sitting equal second on the ladder.

“Tamworth is a bit of an unknown to me this year,” Willemsen said.

“But what I do know is that they beat Coffs, which is something we weren’t able to do.”

The powerful interior duo of Wilson and Tami Willey will be joined in the front court by Katie Slattery, who played her junior basketball in Tamworth.

“Katie knows a few of their girls well, maybe we can get an edge there,” Willemsen said.

The match starts at 1pm at the Lismore Basketball Stadium.

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