Storm warning in a win over Coffs
HOME is where the finals will be for the Lismore Storm after they claimed top spot in the NSW State Basketball League women’s northern division by beating the Coffs Harbour Suns 91-79 yesterday.
But the news isn’t good for the Ballina Breakers men, who remain in second spot in the division after going down 82-72 to the Suns.
Storm coach Mick Willemsen was away for his team’s match in Lismore, leaving senior players Tami Willey and Vanessa Crawford to share the clipboard, but the Strom barely skipped a beat.
Willey was outstanding again and said that it was a game she was not prepared to lose.
“Travelling 10 hours in a bus to play the first week of the finals didn’t sound like much fun,” Willey said.
“We didn’t want to do that so we made a point of winning.”
The two top teams in the north slogged it out in one of the fiercest matches of the State League season, but the class of the Lismore women saw them home.
“It was the most physical game we have played all season,” Willey said.
“It was quite ugly but we pushed through and got the win.”
Switching sides of the clipboard as a player-coach for the first time, 2009 State League MVP Willey recognised the input of her younger team-mates.
“Emma Kopcikas was great on the boards; Jess Ward scored plenty off the dribble; and Hayley Cassell controlled the ball for us,” she said.
“It was a good team performance.”
The 91 points racked up by the Storm was their highest tally of the season, but the 79 they conceded was their most points leaked.
The Lismore women now have a two-week break before hosting an opponent from the south – most likely Dubbo.
The Breakers, meanwhile, face a road trip – probably to Illawarra – to take on the top-ranked side from the southern pool after their loss to the Suns at Southern Cross K-12 School on Saturday night.
James Whitby was again tough to stop as he racked up 26 points for the Breakers but it wasn’t enough as Matt Shanahan and Robbie Linton dominated for the visitors.
Whitby, 19, wasn’t too fazed by the result.
“It (the road trip) doesn’t worry us to much,” he said.
“We are in the finals either way, so there is no disappointment there.”