Ballina Breakers’ Dylan Sharpe shoots for a basket in the State League Basketball match against Armidale at Ballina on Sunday.
Ballina Breakers’ Dylan Sharpe shoots for a basket in the State League Basketball match against Armidale at Ballina on Sunday. Jay Cronan

Changes won't break Ballina

THREE coaches in seven days is far from ideal – but that is the circumstance the Ballina Breakers have been forced to operate under.

And so far the basketballers are doing alright with coach Marty Smith leading his team to victory on Saturday before handing the reins to team captain Jessie Coates who made it a perfect weekend on Sunday.

In less than 24 hours the Breakers beat Tamworth 87-67, and Armidale 94-47 in the NSW State League Basketball to keep their hopes of topping Pool A alive.

But the biggest test comes this Saturday with both captain and coach absent and caretaker coach Bryan Crosswell to take control of the clipboard for a pivotal clash with Grafton.

A loss here would rob the Breakers of a shot at top-rung Coffs Harbour for first spot in the season’s final fixture.

But Crosswell won’t be a stranger to the fold – the Breakers have been planning for this.

“Bryan has been in as an assistant coach to get a feel of things for a while now,” Coates said.

“The role won’t be a problem for him; he is an old-school basketballer and knows how to coach a side.”

Like leaving the kids with their uncle, Crosswell will be fine. The only potential speed hump lies in how the kids react to a weekend without the parents.

“It’s much more of a challenge for the boys,” Coates said. “We can only hope that they respond well under different guidance.”

The task will be made more difficult with news that the Breakers’ go-to man – and the league’s premier scorer – James Whitby will miss the Grafton match.

Whitby, 19, injured his knee playing rugby league for Marist Brothers two weeks ago.

“The two – league and basketball – don’t go really well together,” Coates said.

No coach, no captain, no scorer doesn’t read well, but Coates says his Breakers are well prepared after giving extended minutes to his younger brigade in the weekend wins where Whitby was also absent.



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