Storm wins battle against Breakers

IT was a battle of two of the State League basketball’s best: Tami Willey – the biggest offensive presence in women’s basketball on the Northern Rivers – and Kellie Coates – the never-say-die stopper commissioned to shut her down. It was the women’s Lismore Storm versus the Ballina Breakers showdown.

The match ended in a unanimous decision to the Storm, 63-40, but not before an all-consuming battle between the pair at both ends of the floor.

Willey, making her comeback three games in to the season, top-scored with 20 points and more than a fair share of rebounds, while Coates led her team by putting her body on the line to limit Willey’s output while also top-scoring for Ballina.

Storm coach Mick Willemsen paid tribute to the pair post-match.

“Tami did all the things we expected of her on the court. She thought she was a bit rusty but she got the job done,” Willemsen said.

“And Kellie did a great job on her, never gave in; it was a really good battle.”

Good defence in the first-half set-up the win with the Storm going to the main break leading 26-12.

Much energy was spent by both teams keeping the score so low leading to a more free-flowing third and fourth term.

Storm guard Emma Kopcikas came into her own when the match opened up, setting a quick pace which led to a string of fast-break lay-ups.

Willemsen is content with the position of his team; two wins and a loss has them behind only Coffs Harbour at the top of Pool A.

“It’s a good start to the season, yeah,” he said.

“I can’t wait to get a shot at Coffs again to get that game back though.”

The Storm now have a four-week break until their next match, not an ideal draw, but Willemsen won’t complain and will rather use it wisely.

“I would rather the continuity was there,” he said.

“But it means we will have our full squad back for our next game and gives us a month to work on the things we have learned in the opening matches.”

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