High expectations again for Lady Braves

Bendigo’s Kerryn Harrington.THE Bendigo Champions IGA Lady Braves again enter a new SEABL season with high expectations.
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The Lady Braves tip off their 2015 campaign on Friday night against arch-rivals Ballarat at Ballarat’s Minerdome.

The Lady Braves’ list this year features the inclusion of two Australian Opals squad members in Kelly Wilson and Tessa Lavey.

Wilson has spent the past three years in the SEABL with Knox, while Lavey played with the Basketball Australia Centre of Excellence squad last year.

The Lady Braves have also added import Stacia Robertson from North Carolina, as well as Stephanie Bairstow, who has spent the past two-and-a-half-years at Utah State University.

Among the departures from last year’s squad that lost the grand final to Hobart by three points in overtime are Lauren King, Alex Bunton, Rosie Fadljevic, Heather Oliver, Chantella Perera and Lasondra Barrett.

“We’ve always got high expectations and this year is no different,” Lady Braves’ coach Jonathan Goodman said on Thursday.

“Losing someone like Lauren King, you can’t replace her, but we’ve done really well in our recruiting in the sense that our backcourt will be dynamic.

“Kelly Wilson is a former MVP in the league and it’s massive bringing both her and Tessa Lavey into the squad. They bring talent and experience with the Opals.

“We’ve brought in a great young talent in Steph Bairstow and import Stacia Robertson is going to be a fantastic addition as well.

“I’m really excited with the group we’ve put together, particularly with the amount of local content we’ve got this year.”

Goodman said there was no bigger way to start the season for the Lady Braves than by taking on Ballarat.

“Every time we play Ballarat it’s just like a finals atmosphere,” Goodman said.

“We’re playing on the eve of the Under-18 Australian Junior Championships in Ballarat, so there’s going to be a lot of people there and we’ll be hoping to put on a good show and make sure we walk out of there with the win.”

Friday night’s game in Ballarat tips off at 6pm.

Meanwhile, five members of the Bendigo Spirit – including Kelly Wilson and Tessa Lavey – have been named in an Australian Opals training camp squad of 18 in Gosford from April 27 to May 2 ahead of a European tour and the FIBA Oceania Championships in August.

As well as Wilson and Lavey, other Spirit players in the Opals’ squad for the training camp are Sara Blicavs, Elyse Penaluna and Belinda Snell.

Former Spirit player Maddi Garrick, who has just signed with the Melbourne Boomers, is also in the squad.

Lady Braves’ roster

Kerryn Harrington

Kelly Wilson

Stephanie Bairstow

Tessa Lavey

Maddison Wild

Molly Greetham

Thanee Cannon

Alex Strawhorn

Shelby Britten

Jessica Mangan

Charlie Brancatisano

Georgie Eishold

Andrea Wilson

Stacia Robertson

New: Kelly Wilson, Stephanie Bairstow, Tessa Lavey, Stacia Robertson.

Out: Chantella Perera, Rosie Fadljevic, Alex Bunton, Heather Oliver, Lauren King, Lasondra Barrett.

First 10 games:

April 10 – at Ballarat

April 17 – at Albury Wodonga

April 25 – v Nunawading

May 2 – v Sandringham

May 9 – v Kilsyth

May 23 – v Geelong

May 30 – v Dandenong

May 31 – at Nunawading

June 13 – v Ballarat

June 21 – v Frankston

Past four seasons:

2014: 2nd – 18-8.

2013: Champions – 23-6.

2012: 4th – 16-11.

2011: 4th – 18-8.

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