ROUND 1 of the 2019 Women’s SBL season is upon us and it’s looking like a fascinating year ahead with the Joondalup Wolves loading up under Charles Nix, the Rockingham Flames going big and the Lakeside Lightning and Mandurah Magic to begin it all with a Grand Final rematch.
It was a Grand Final for the ages to finish the 2018 Women’s SBL season as the Lakeside Lightning came from nowhere to defy the Mandurah Magic a slice of history, with Craig Mansfield’s team capping a dominant season by claiming the championship.
Now to back that up what better way to start the new season than with a Grand Final rematch as the Lightning celebrate that championship triumph on Friday night at Lakeside Recreation Centre with the Magic looking to earn an early measure of revenge.
Lakeside and Mandurah are two teams looking capable of being genuine championship contenders once again but they are far from the only ones looking impressive entering 2019.
It’s a new-look Joondalup Wolves under the coaching of Charles Nix who are looking for a swift rise up the table while the Perth Redbacks and Kalamunda Eastern Suns will try to get themselves back to being strong again after semi-final exits in 2018.
The Rockingham Flames have a new coach, Craig Reynolds, and will be desperate to go better than a quarter-final exit while the Warwick Senators look impressive and there’s now way you can rule out any of the teams who are ready to go in 2019 either.
Starting with the defending champions Lakeside, they will be without triple MVP winner Ali Schwagmeyer most of the season even if she just does begin the season with the Lightning.
Sydnee Fipps and Sam Roscoe are gone as well but GeAnna Luaulu-Summers has arrived as a new import guard with Ellyce Ironmonger adding size to the frontcourt with Ash Grant and the second import when she arrives.
Mandurah has had a long off-season to get over how close they were to winning that elusive first SBL championship last year. But despite having a new coach with Craig Watts taking over from Randy Miegel, stability in the playing group has been the order of the day.
Last year’s MVP candidate Anita Brown is gone but replaced by Delany Junkermeir while Ginka Palusna is back and Carly Boag should be back before midway through the season following her knee reconstruction.
The Redbacks finished the regular season in second spot last year before losing in three games of the semi finals to the Magic and they too have a new coach with long-time Willetton assistant Craig Allen taking over from Charles Nix.
They have lost some significant weapons too in the form Kayla Steindl, Makailah Dyer, Mikayla Pirini and Bianca Donovan. But the additions of Lauren Mansfield and Rosie Deegan should ensure Allen has a competitive group to start his head coaching career with.
Rockingham would have been disappointed with their first round playoff exit last year, also losing to Mandurah, and for the first time in a decade they have a new coach with Ryan Petrik moving on to coach the Flames men.
Craig Reynolds is at the helm and what a frontcourt he has at his disposal made up of WNBL pair Darcee Garbin and Maddie Allen with Christina Boag arriving to give them a three-prong attack.
Lakeside championship winner Paris Duffield and former Slammers point guard Tayah Burrows arrive to strengthen the guard spots too giving Reynolds plenty to work with all-round in his squad in 2019.
Kalamunda did a tremendous job to reach the semi finals in 2018 and coach Tom Knowles will look to build upon that progress in 2019.
The Eastern Suns have lost Alex Ciabattoni and a couple of other handy pieces, but have added new import Katie Yohn along with point guard Lauren Jeffers who was instrumental in Perry Lakes’ championship of 2017.
The Senators, now having adopted the Warwick name, have a new coach too with Glenn Clarke moving on after a playoff defeat to the Perth Redbacks in the quarter finals, replaced by the returning Dion Dagostino.
The Senators look set to be a powerful force in 2019 with two new imports Samaria Howard and Bianca Villegas along with the additions of Lakeside championship winning centre Sam Roscoe and big-time scorer Stacey Barr.
It will be a new-look Warwick team with Amber Land moving on and the two new imports, but it’s an exciting group Dagostino looks to have at his disposal.
Perry Lakes didn’t quite have the championship defence they were after in 2018 but they did recover from a horror start to at least make the playoffs before falling to Lakeside in the first round.
Coach Deanna Smith will look to lead them further up the table again in 2019 and will be desperate for a better start this time around.
Jamie Cherry arrives as a new import and Nikita Martin adds quality and experience while Rebecca Benson is back in the league to provide another scoring threat and cool head.
Morgan Ballantyne adds depth in the backcourt too but the losses of Toni Farnworth and Kate Anthony will take some covering.
Willetton is one of the great unknowns in 2019 as the Tigers play out of a Willetton Basketball Stadium undergoing its redevelopment.
Coach Simon Parker is locked in for the long haul and is building something for the future, but that doesn’t mean Willetton still won’t look to be a force this season with Taryn Priestly arriving to run the point guard role.
But much of their season might depend on how good their imports are once they arrive and how soon they get here.
South West is another club with a new coach in 2019 with Nathan Grover taking over after two years as assistant to Peter Harper.
He has reason to be optimistic about the group he will be leading this season too even though the loss of local guards Georgia Denehey and Tayah Burrows does sting.
But Makailah Dyer arrives after a season with the Redbacks and has expressed a desire to run the point more while Brittni Montgomery gives them a genuine post presence.
Championship winner Bianca Donovan returns as well and with Kate Fielding and Courtney Bayliss playing on, there’s plenty there for Grover to work with.
Cockburn suffered a horror injury run in 2018 as they missed a return to the playoffs and that has continued in the off-season with the loss of starting point guard BJ Moyes who has undergone a knee reconstruction having ruptured her ACL playing AFLW with the Fremantle Dockers.
With Taryn Priestly joining Willetton too, that leaves the Cougars with some work to do to fill the gaps in the backcourt with Isabelle Miotti’s departure too. But coach Megan Thompson is happy with the additions of Akim Lual and Jodee Sontay, and is confident of a strong season.
The big improvers of 2019 in the Women’s SBL looks set to be the Joondalup Wolves under the coaching of Charles Nix.
Kayla Steindl and Mikayla Pirini are both coming off WNBL seasons having played under Nix at the Redbacks in 2018 and will join him at the Wolves as will Amber Land from the Senators, Georgia Denehey from the Slammers and Isabelle Miotti from the Cougars.
That’s an addition of two quality bigs, a versatile small forward and two strong guards to a group still including Chelsea Belcher, Amy Kidner and when ready, Shani Caldwell, to go into battle with.
East Perth had a winless season in 2018 but the Eagles did show some encouraging signs with coach Tanya Fisher prepared to put in the hard yards to develop the young group with an eye to the future.
She will now look to see some improvement further in 2019 and has added Janee Johnson and Kalypso McCallum-Smith to help facilitate that.
Round 1 of the 2019 Women’s SBL season begins on Friday night with the Grand Final rematch between Lakeside and Mandurah with the Lightning to celebrate their championship success.
The other Friday night clash sees the Hawks host the Wolves at Bendat Basketball Centre with both teams looking to make an early season statement.
Saturday night gets underway at Wally Hagan Stadium with the Cougars hosting the Tigers, with Priestly getting an early crack for Willetton against Cockburn back on her old home floor.
Then also on Saturday night, the Redbacks and Senators clash at Belmont Oasis in a rematch of last year’s quarter finals but with both clubs featuring new coaches, and significantly different looking squads.
The Magic back up their Friday night trip to Lakeside with their home-opener against Kalamunda while the Slammers begin their season at home to the Eagles.
ROUND 1 FITNESS COCKBURN COUGARS
THOMPSON EXCITED BY COUGARS POTENTIAL
Coach: Megan Thompson
Last year: 6-16 (10th)
In: Akim Lual, Jodee Sontay
Out: Brianna Moyes, Isabelle Miotti, Taryn Priestly
Round 1 v Willetton Tigers, Saturday March 16 – Wally Hagan Stadium
SCHWEIGEN EAST PERTH EAGLES
Coach: Tanya Fisher
Last year: 0-22 (wooden spoon)
In: Janee Johnson (restricted)
Out: Ladondra Johnson, Akim Lual
Round 1 v South West Slammers, Saturday March 16 – Eaton Recreation Centre
CHAMBERS FRANKLIN JOONDALUP CITY WOLVES
NIX WANTS TO BUILD SOMETHING SPECIAL AT WOLVES
Coach: Charles Nix
Last year: 5-17 (11th)
In: Kayla Steindl (restricted), Mikayla Pirini, Isabelle Miotti, Georgia Denehey, Amber Land
Out: Kourteney Zadina, Ellyce Ironmonger
Round 1 v Perry Lakes Hawks, Friday March 15 – Bendat Basketball Centre
KALAMUNDA EASTERN SUNS
Coach: Tom Knowles
Last year: 14-8 (lost semi finals)
In: Katie Yohn (restricted), Carla Drennan, Lauren Jeffers
Out: Alex Ciabattoni, Jessie Edwards, Jorjah Smith, Marlee Bushe-Jones
Round 1 v Mandurah Magic, Saturday March 16 – Mandurah Aquatic and Recreation Centre
LIGHTNING SET HIGH CEILING AS DEFENDING CHAMPS
Coach: Craig Mansfield
Last year: 21-1 (Champions)
In: GeAnna Luaulu-Summers (restricted), Ellyce Ironmonger
Out: Sydnee Fipps, Sam Roscoe, Melissa Moyle, Paris Duffield
Round 1 v Mandurah Magic, Friday March 15 – Lakeside Recreation Centre
CACHET HOMES MANDURAH MAGIC
WATTS HOPING EXPERIENCE HELPS MAGIC GO ONE BETTER
Coach: Craig Watts
Last year: 11-11 (runner-up)
In: Delany Junkermeir (restricted), Ash Sidebottom, Kasey Miegel
Out: Anita Brown, Morgan Ballantyne
Round 1 v Lakeside Lightning, Friday March 15 – Lakeside Recreation Centre
Round 1 v Kalamunda Eastern Suns, Saturday March 16 – Mandurah Aquatic and Recreation Centre
PERRY LAKES HAWKS
Coach: Deanna Smith
Last year: 9-13 (lost quarter finals)
In: Jamie Cherry (restricted), Nikita Martin, Morgan Ballantyne, Rebecca Benson
Out: Toni Farnworth, Kate Anthony
Round 1 v Joondalup Wolves, Friday March 15 – Bendat Basketball Centre
TEXTURE WA PERTH REDBACKS
LONG-TERM REDBACKS SUCCESS GOAL FOR ALLEN
Coach: Craig Allen
Last year: 17-5 (lost semi finals)
In: Lauren Mansfield (restricted), Rosie Deegan, Ella Thornton-Elliott
Out: Kayla Steindl, Makailah Dyer, Mikayla Pirini, Bianca Donovan
Round 1 v Warwick Senators, Saturday March 16 – Belmont Oasis
CLASS 1 ORTHODONTICS ROCKINGHAM FLAMES
REYNOLDS BEGINS FLAMES TENURE WITH FRONTCOURT ‘WALL’
Coach: Craig Reynolds
Last year: 16-6 (lost quarter finals)
In: Darcee Garbin (restricted), Christina Boag, Paris Duffield, Tayah Burrows
Out: Taneisha Harrison, D’Lesha Lloyd, Jacinta Bourne, Dena English
Round 1 – Bye
PRINT SYNC SOUTH WEST SLAMMERS
FINALS THE GOAL FOR NEW SLAMMERS COACH
Coach: Nathan Grover
Last year: 9-13 (ninth)
In: Makailah Dyer (restricted), Brittni Montgomery (restricted), Aimee Coles, Bianca Donovan
Out: Tori Fisher, Charlotte Van Kleef, Georgia Denehey, Tayah Burrows
Round 1 v East Perth Eagles, Saturday March 16 – Eaton Recreation Centre
BETHANIE WARWICK SENATORS
Coach: Dion Dagostino
Last year: 10-12 (lost quarter finals)
In: Samaria Howard (restricted), Bianca Villegas (restricted), Sam Roscoe, Stacey Barr, Emma Burke, Tayla Hepburn
Out: Janee Johnson, Jodee Sontay, Amber Land, Jasmine Martin
Round 1 v Perth Redbacks, Saturday March 16 – Belmont Oasis
PARKER EXPECTS NEW-LOOK TIGERS TO BE COMPETITIVE
Coach: Simon Parker
Last year: 14-8 (lost quarter finals)
In: Tessa Miotti, Taryn Priestly
Out: Ashli Payne, Leah Cotton, Tayla Hepburn, Zoe Harper, Sam Norwood, Carla Drennan, Ajay Johnson
Round 1 v Cockburn Cougars, Saturday March 16 – Wally Hagan Stadium