TWO teams with new coaches looking to build on playoff appearances in 2018 opened their season at Belmont Oasis on Saturday night with the Warwick Senators prevailing 94-82 over the Perth Redbacks.
There has been plenty of change at both the Redbacks and Senators since their playoff exits last year with Perth reaching the semi finals while it was the Redbacks who ended the season of Warwick in the opening round.
Neither team was at full strength for their season-opener either in the Redbacks’ annual Len Vlahov Tribute game.
Craig Allen’s debut as coach was without Lauren Mansfield while Dion Dagostino’s return to coaching in the SBL at the helm of the Senators saw his team still awaiting the arrival of second import Samaria Howard, Sam Roscoe, Stacey Barr, Maddison Hooper and the Throns girls.
The Redbacks came out impressively having made the semi finals in 2018 despite the new-look squad and by quarter-time they managed to lead 26-20.
But the Senators turned the tide in the second quarter piling on 34 points to 20 to lead 54-46 at half-time and they never looked back.
Warwick went on to win the game by 12 points having led by as much as 20.
It was a dominant showing inside from the Senators with 52 points in the paint 20 while they also collected 18 offensive rebounds for 12 second chance points.
It was a monstrous effort on the boards from Warwick finishing with 57 boards but Perth also did reasonably well with 51 of their own including 19 offensive for 14 second chance points.
There was a lot to like for Warwick in the victory with Tayla Hepburn announcing herself with 31 points and 17 rebounds on 14/22 shooting from the field.
New import Bianca Villegas added 18 points, eight rebounds and five assists. That was an already impressive frontcourt duo with the Senators to welcome in Roscoe during the season as well.
Caitlyn Jones added 14 points and five assists also for Warwick with veterans Emma Berryman (nine points, four assists, three rebounds) and Nicole Jorre de St Jorre (six points, 11 boards, seven assists, three steals), leading from the front.
Chloe Forster also had eight points, four rebounds and two steals, and Emma Burke six points and six boards.
Warwick coach Dion Dagostino was glad to be able to rewarded a host of younger players for their work over the summer. He liked a lot of what he saw in the performance too especially with the knowledge that he has some superstars like Roscoe, Barr and Howard to come in.
“It was massive and I’m super happy for the girls. We’ve got five or six girls who have never played SBL before and we’ve done a lot of work with them. They are playing confidently because they get a lot of freedom with us and it’s awesome to see them shine,” Dagostino said.
“Tonight the win was nice but it was just great to see them genuinely enjoy the game and then grow. The wins will come and the end of the season is important, but just seeing them develop from what we’ve done at training is gold.
“Some of the girls have gone straight from under-16s to SBL and they’ve missed everything in the middle so it’s fantastic to see them perform. They don’t realise how competitive and physical they are so it was great to see them realise it tonight and go with it.”
Nes’eya Williams showed for the Redbacks why she is one of the brightest young basketballers in the country with the 17-year-old opening the new season with 20 points, 14 rebounds, four assists, two steals and two blocks on shooting 7/14 from the field and 4/7 from three-point range.
Another young star, Rosie Deegan was impressive too on debut for the Redbacks with 19 points, eight rebounds and five assists. Jess Jakens also had 13 points and 10 rebounds, Denielle Lipscombe 11 points and four boards, and Alix Hayward eight points and six rebounds.
The Senators remain on the road on Saturday night against the Joondalup Wolves at HBF Arena while the Redbacks have the bye while their men are in Kalgoorlie ahead of a double-header in Week 3 away to Lakeside and home to Perry Lakes.
WEEK 1 WOMEN’S SBL FIXTURES
Lakeside Lightning 90 defeated Mandurah Magic 64
Perry Lakes Hawks 66 lost to Chambers Franklyn Joondalup City Wolves 69
Round 1 Fitness Cockburn Cougars 73 defeated Willetton Tigers 67
Print Sync South West Slammers 90 defeated Schweigen East Perth Eagles 68
Texture WA Perth Redbacks 82 lost to Bethanie Warwick Senators 94
Cachet Homes Mandurah Magic 69 defeated Kalamunda Eastern Suns 67