Willetton Tigers head coach Simon Parker believes his girls are in a much stronger position to challenge the Warwick Senators and win back-to-back NBL1 West titles than previous results would seem to indicate.
With the teams tied at 1-1 for the year, the Senators had an 11-point win over the Tigers a little over a week-and-a-half again in the quarter finals, but according to Parker, the result could have been much worse if not for the resilience of the Tigers’ squad.
“In the finals game against the Senators we had a few road blocks going into that game,” he said.
“The the Wednesday prior to the game we had four key players out with gastro, Covid and injuries.
“Playing them with a near full strength team will be a different story.
“We had Kiara Waite, a-15-year-old, play 21 minutes against a former Opal and a current Lynx player and had a massive game for us.
“So, to be that close was a massive effort.”
In backing up from their 2021 title, Parker said having the main core of team stay on was vitally important, and players have stepped up during the 2022 campaign as the team occasionally struggled to field a full side.
“We only added one piece to our roster in Tayla Hepburn which helped strengthened our post player position, something we identified at the end of 2021.
“Having the main core group stay together from last year was important, much easier to mount a title defence if you know what you have to work with.
“The beauty of our team is that on any night five or six girls can have a great night.
“Desiree Kelly has had an improved season in all areas of the game and has this never say die attitude from week one, Alex Sharp and Emma Gandini from the Lynx are really starting to work back into their best form at the right time which is fantastic.
“Sam Lubcke and Tay are always working hard and had some big defence battles they have won prior to this game and then then our two-point guards Hayley Winter and Sophie Doran have just had great seasons in running our team which we are lucky to have.”
One of the main obstacles standing in the Tigers way will be the newly-crowned NBL1 West Women’s MVP Stacey Barr, and Parker said they were going to make Barr work for her shots.
“She’s most definitely a big threat and it’s a battle we need to win.
“Stacey’s always going to look to score, it’s what she does, but we need to make her work for it and also make her uncomfortable in the shots she will take.
“It would be very special, especially with the quality of opposition we faced this year to win it again, and to go back-to-back at this time would be a great achievement and something the club, the players, the support staff and the coaches would be extremely proud of.”