IF you think of the Mandurah Magic it’s hard for the Klasztorny family to not immediately spring to mind and they have another reason to celebrate this Saturday night when one of the SBL’s great warriors, Emma Klasztorny, reaches 200 games.
She came into the Magic SBL under the shadow of her older sister Bree who already has achieved the 200-game milestone herself and now it will be quite the special occasion for the sisters to run out together on Saturday night against the Warwick Senators at Mandurah Aquatic and Recreation Centre.
By the time Emma made her SBL debut in 2010, Bree had already racked up almost 100 games for the Magic but now for almost a decade the undersized yet ferocious pair have terrorised opposition front courts.
Emma has turned herself into one of the best and most consistent forwards in the competition too and she often has to take turns playing in the five spot where despite being greatly undersized, she finds a way to get the job done time after time.
Whether scoring, rebounding or defending, Emma has proven herself a tremendous SBL player now over 199 games and is in terrific form in 2019 averaging 9.9 points and 9.6 rebounds a game as she prepares for her milestone night.
It’s been quite the impressive journey to 200 games and there certainly is no signs of her slowing down as she now approaches the peak years of her career.
To get to play 200 games and to do it with a Mandurah Magic club that means the world to her and her family, and on her home court and alongside sister Bree all make it a stage for what should be one of her career highlights.
“It does mean quite a lot to me and it’s a pretty special thing especially to play for the one club for the whole time. I don’t really know how to put it into words though,” Emma Klasztorny said.
“As of right now it doesn’t feel any different than a normal game but I’m sure once I get there and start warming up it will. But I have been receiving messages and all that, and that’s when you realise it’s a pretty big deal and it’s a little bit different.
“But we will just approach it like another game and then hopefully celebrate after. I love that it’s a home game as well, that makes it more special. It’s cool that it’s the very last game of the season and it is a very big game for a lot of reasons.”
Running out with Bree knowing that her older sister could be approaching the end of her SBL career without question makes the 200-game milestone mean even more for Emma, but really it’s just a further establishment of just how big a part the Mandurah Magic has played in their lives.
“One of the most special things about the whole milestone is knowing that we will have both played 200 games. Having played with her since I started and with this potentially being her last season, it’s a really cool way to possibly end it with us both getting to 200 games on the team together,” she said.
“The club has always been such a massive part of our family ever since we moved to Mandurah. All six of us kids have played at the club from the juniors up so it ever wasn’t part of our lives that would take some getting used to.
“Five or six years ago, we were all so heavily involved with five of us kids playing at the same time and my dad and sister part of the board. So the club meant everything to us and even though some things have changed since then, this game is still going to be such a special occasion for me.
“Basketball is still such a massive part of our whole family and I couldn’t imagine where we would be without it. Mandurah Magic is a second home to us all.”
With Bree already up on the wall at Mandurah Aquatic and Recreation Centre as one of the Magic’s champions along with Emma’s fellow long-time teammates Casey Mihovilovich and Rachel Halleen, the fact her face will soon adorn the wall is something she will always be tremendously proud of.
“It’s pretty special to have my name up there on the wall especially being alongside Casey, Bree and Rach,” Emma said.
“I always walk in and think it’s really cool seeing their faces up there and knowing that mine will be up there now too is a bit hard to believe because they are pretty much legends of the club. It will be pretty cool to walk in their shoes as well now and see my own face up there.”
Emma has achieved just about everything now with the Magic except bringing the club that elusive first championship.
They have gone ever so close the past two years only to lose a hard-fought Grand Final to the Perry Lakes Hawks in 2017 and then heartbreakingly last year, conceding the last 21 points of the game to the Lakeside Lightning after being in control for three and-a-half quarters.
Understandably losing two Grand Finals in such ways takes some character to fight through to continue to compete for that chance at glory, and now Emma sees no reason why 2019 can’t be the Magic’s year.
“It almost still hurts now when you think about it but you obviously have to get over it, you don’t really have a choice about that. It still does kind of affect you but that’s what makes you that much more hungry to get back there now given it happened to us twice,” Emma said.
“We just have that attitude that it won’t happen a third time. And given what’s happened during the season and the way we are playing, we are thinking we can go all the way with how good our team culture and morale is, and how well we are playing.
“It was still tough to deal with at the start of the year and now if there was no way of us making it, we might still be dwelling on it. But because we are going well now we are just thinking of nothing else but going all the way.”
It looked like it could be a season to forget for the Magic through the first part of the season.
Despite most of their players from the Grand Final team of last year returning and then Carly Boag back from her knee reconstruction, things were looking decidedly bleak when they slipped to 6-7 following a tough loss in Rockingham.
However, 24 hours later they shocked Lakeside in Mandurah to the tune of 29 points and along the way have now added new import Taylor Brown to add to backcourt and the Magic have never looked back.
Heading into Saturday’s last game of the regular season at home to the Senators, the Magic are sitting fourth having won eight games in-a-row and they could still end up finishing third depending on how results fall in the final round.
It’s been a stunning turnaround and Emma feels it all started with the departure of Ginka Palusna and ending up swapping a big for a small with their imports.
“I think we just seemed to get our team morale back. Something just seemed to click in the Lakeside game and the same thing seemed to happen last year. We were in a bit of a slump and then out of nowhere everything just clicked, and it’s been a similar thing this year,” Emma said.
“The changes to our squad we made ended up being like a blessing in disguise as well and we were a much more positive group after that.
“Then adding Taylor on top of that has just helped massively and having that set point guard has taken pressure off Milo and she’s just been able to run her position, and the other guards have been able to catch and shoot.
“Having Ginka leave ended up being a positive and having Taylor come in has turned out to be fantastic.”
What the departure of Palusna has meant for the Magic is that even more reliance has fallen on the Klasztorny sisters to do a lot of the grunt work on the inside.
That’s often against significantly bigger opponents whether it’s the likes of Ellyce Ironmonger at Lakeside, Jennie Rintala at Kalamunda, Nat Burton and Megan McKay at Perry Lakes, Sam Roscoe at Warwick, Amber Land at Joondalup or Darcee Garbin at Rockingham.
But what they lack in size, they both make up for in physicality and that will and desire to win the basketball and to help their team win possession and just never give up.
Emma had little choice but to play with that attitude with Bree having set the standard, but without doubt she’s now built her own reputation as one of the best competitors in the SBL as she approaches game 200.
“For a team that’s quite undersized, by going smaller has helped us really click for some reason and we are just workhorses,” Emma said.
“We play with a lot of effort and we know that we’re not the most talented team at all, but we just love to work hard. We all have that attitude and I think that’s a big reason why things are clicking for us now.
“We really focus on our defence too and we know that if we can lock down in defence we just let our offence come to us. I think that also helps us overcome being undersized. It does suck in some ways being undersized but then at the same time it kind of works in our favour in some ways.
“We just find a way to make it work. It comes down to a bit of a strength game really and a mental game too. I just tell myself to go out there and get the job done, and find a way to make it happen.
“There’s no real other way to do it, I don’t have a choice really because that’s my role in the team and I’ve got Bree setting the tone there too with how physical she is. Bree is so tough and having her as my sister and teammate as well means that I go out and have to play like her.”