THEY may be much smaller in size than their male counterparts competing in the 2010 NSW State Basketball League, but the Thursday Plantation Ballina Lady Breakers more than make up for their lack of height with determination to succeed this year.
Combining youth and experience, the Breakers are looking to improve on their fifth placing when they last competed in the State League in 2008.
While this year’s team will be built around the core of the 2008 squad with the mercurial Creina Preston, fast-improving centre Penny Williams and outstanding court leader Kellie Coates all returning with a hunger for success, it may be the addition of a host of exciting newcomers and an international basketball journey woman that may take the Breakers to another level.
Top of this list and proving fortuitous for the Ballina team, former Coffs Harbour juniors and Grafton Vikings representative players Eden Conklin and Hayley Casson have landed in the Ballina area this year and their athleticism and versatility will bring an exciting element to the Breakers.
The dogged defence of tenacious veteran Christine McCombie, who has returned to representative basketball after a prolonged absence, and the commanding presence of Jasmine Laird will also add to the fast-developing character of a team that has not taken a back step to any of the challenges presented to them during their pre-season by the Ballina coaching staff.
While it has traditionally been the United States and Canada that has provided the international flavour in the form of playing imports in the State League, the Breakers have added a new dimension this season with the inclusion of English lass Jesse Eke, who arrives at the team via playing stints in the UK, France and Belgium.
At 1.75m, Eke, a former UK national training squad member and captain of a national championship-winning team in 2002, plays well above her height and will prove a handful for opposing teams at both ends of the court.
“I expect us to be pretty tight, to be honest,” Breakers coach Jason Bashforth said.
“It is always hard for the girls to balance work and family commitments but they are certainly committed as a team.
“The big thing for our girls is that while Ballina has a pretty good domestic comp, this (the State league) is a real step up and we’re keen to make the girls aware of what they need to be.”
The Breakers will play in a round-robin pre-season tournament at Yamba next month. And they are hopeful of playing a match against Ballina’s Under-18 boys representative side.
The Breakers will tip-off their State League season on April 10 when they travel to south to play 2009 league grand finalists the Coffs Harbour Suns.