Storm to rebound in 2012

AFTER just a 12-month absence the Lismore Storm looks set to make a return to State League men's basketball action this year.

Increased interest has playing numbers on the rise after the association failed to field senior men's and women's teams in 2011.

The Storm's absence left the Ballina Breakers as the only Far North Coast association to participate in the State League.

Storm coaching director Michael Willemsen believes things have taken a turn for the better after last year's disappointment.

"There's been a groundswell of interest with a lot of last year's under-18 players moving through the ranks and looking for an opportunity," he said.

"Last year we had a break because the numbers weren't there but our under-18s ended up winning the NSW Northern Junior League Division 1.

"Now they have a chance to play against the big boys."

Willemsen said the interest among women basketballers in Lismore was not quite at the level needed to field a senior team this year.

The Storm will hold a muster for senior players on Wednesday from 5.30 to 7pm at the Albert Park basketball stadium in Keen Street.

"There are some good talented kids in the area with plenty of height and they're very athletic," Willemsen said.

"They just need the right coaching and discipline."

Willemsen said he was reticent to coach the Storm's top side.

"I did that job for four years and I'm pretty committed to coaching some of our junior teams now," he said.

"We'll try to find an appropriate coach."

The Ballina Breakers remain hopeful of fielding men's and women's State League teams despite the Storm's plans.

The Breakers picked up James Whitby, Brent Ramsey, Dylan Sharpe and Chris McIllhatton from the Lismore association last year.

"It could go either way," Breakers president and player Adrian Van Eck said.

"We need to see how we go with our juniors coming through but our under-18 boys won Division 2 last year (in the Northern Junior League) so there's lots of talent.

"It would be great to have a rivalry again with Lismore but both associations try to support each other too.

"If we can't field a side I've thought about going over to Lismore but with the new stadium opening in Byron next month there'll still be plenty of basketball for local players."

The Ballina association will hold a muster on Monday from 6pm at Southern Cross K-12 School.

Last year's Breakers coach Marty Smith has retired from his role for family reasons.

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