Benalla Lady Breakers’ inaugural season came to an end on Sunday, but despite finishing the year bottom of the pack, there is plenty to look forward to in 2020 for women’s basketball in the region.
Traveling to face neighbours Wangaratta Warriors in round 12 for their final match of the CBL season, the Breakers positioned themselves for the opportunity of an upset, trailing by only seven points at the main break.
But a fairy-tale finish to their history-making season wasn’t to be, with the Warriors getting on top of the Breakers in the second half to win by 16.
While the Breakers’ half-time deficit doubled across the second half, Breakers coach Tony Long said turnovers in the first quarter were more costly to his side’s overall game.
“For this game really, that first-quarter we had 10 turnovers. After that, we shut down our turnovers, but there was 12 points in the first quarter,” he said.
“If we'd been that much closer, we would have put the scoreboard pressure on, and we’d do a lot better from that point on.”
Among those to shine was Isabella Riley, who continued to show maturity beyond her years and control the floor, while Alex Robinson was superb early in defence, picking off a number of intercepts before following up late on offence.
Despite a string of defeats this season, Long said he was ecstatic with what the Lady Breakers had achieved in the past six months.
“Number one, we’ve put a team on the floor from Benalla, which hasn’t been done before,” he said.
“Our growth rate over that period has been fantastic.
“First game we scored 37, then a row of 20s and we couldn’t get any score on the board.
“By the end of the season, we were 55s, 65 points. That’s where it needs to be.
“In the back half of the season, we’ve been right there, giving teams a bit of a nudge and a fright.
“That’s been our aim over the last few rounds, is to actually do that and see where we can get to.
“If we can now improve on that and keep taking it forward, we’ll be sensational heading into the next season.”
Benalla Lady Breakers 57
Wangaratta Lady Warriors 73
Top scorers: Isabella Riley 19, Alex Robinson 7