STIRLING Senators coach Glenn Clarke has ticked off his first job for 2017 qualifying for the Women’s SBL playoffs and with top four looking likely, he is happy with the attitude of his players three weeks out.
On the back of the tremendous job he did coaching the Willetton Tigers to three Women’s SBL championships, Clarke arrived at Stirling for the 2016 season charged with turning the Senators into a genuine contender.
After a rebuilding year for the Senators, 2017 Clarke added imports Kisha Lee and Jasmine Martin to the young group he was building led by the ever-reliable Amber Land.
The Senators bounced back on Sunday with a strong win over the Perth Redbacks after losing to the third placed Lakeside Lightning on Friday night to improve to a 13-6 record and remain two games clear in fourth spot of the chasing Willetton Tigers.
Stirling can lock away that top four finish with a win over the South West Slammers at Eaton Recreation Centre this Saturday night.
Clarke is happy with the attitude his players are taking looking towards a playoff appearance.
“The good thing about this is that a lot of the girls are looking at the playoffs as being an opportunity and a new season starting. They are all looking forward to that challenge and I’m glad that they are going into it with that mentality,” Clarke said.
“Now we pull the season apart of what we are good at and keep practicing that to make sure that we are really ready to go in the playoffs. We will really fine tune the areas that we are good at to execute those during the playoffs and we’ll go from there.”
The depth and number of contributors the Senators are getting on a weekly basis has been a big part of their success.
Lee, Martin and Land are leading the way as expected, but Hannah Throns, Taylor Roberts, Rebekah Throns, Caitlyn Jones, Maddison Hooper and Emma Berryman have all been important contributors to them currently sitting in fourth place.
Sunday’s win over the Redbacks at Belmont Oasis was another example of that with Lee delivering 26 points and 13 rebounds, Martin 15 points and five boards, Roberts 12 points and five rebounds, Land 10 points and 11 boards, and Hannah Throns 10 points, eight rebounds and four assists.
“When you get that fourth double-figure scorer in a women’s game you can pretty well pick that you will be getting over the line,” he said.
“They all contributed well and we missed a lot of shots, but they just kept on going and going. They are very relentless with what they do and that’s a big key to us being successful.”
Hannah Throns has been one player to especially go to another level so far in 2017 averaging 6.3 points, 5.4 rebounds and 4.1 assists a game.
Clarke couldn’t be happier with her development.
“The game against Lakeside in that first half was probably the best I have ever seen Hannah play,” he said.
“She was just outstanding defensive and offensively, and she did all the right things I asked her to do. She is pretty much giving us exactly what we are looking for and she has been very good for us.”
Now that the Senators look pretty sure of finishing in fourth place it leaves Clarke’s old team and good mate Simon Parker as his likely quarter-final opponent, Willetton.
That would leave lifetime bragging rights on the line between them and Clarke isn’t sure how he feels about that, but to have top four within their grasp is something he without question marks as a big tick.
“I spoke to Simon Parker about it and I told him that I don’t really want to match you guys in the first round. Yes because he can coach and he has a good team, but whoever wins will have the bragging rights forever,” Clarke said.
“Finishing top four is very important for the home court advantage. If you get that then you like to think you are halfway there and it allows the girls to play on a girl that they know so it makes it a bit easier. They fill the join at Stirling too so that home crowd is nice to have too.”
Photo by Belinda Pike (Croc Photography)