Maiden victory a win for the ages

Headshot of Justin Fris
Justin FrisSouth Western Times
Slammers women’s coach Darren Austin and skipper Lisa Cartwright hold the championship trophy aloft following the grand final.
Camera IconSlammers women’s coach Darren Austin and skipper Lisa Cartwright hold the championship trophy aloft following the grand final.

Former South West Slammers women’s captain Lisa Cartwright did things tough in the SBL prior to the 2012 season.

But in somewhat of an ironic twist of fate, Cartwright played her 250th game in the club’s maiden women’s championship victory later in the year, when they belted the Rockingham Flames 85-48.

Despite finishing 2-20 the previous year, Cartwright believes there was a degree of quiet confidence at the end of 2012 training camp.

“It was my 13th season with the team,” she said. “For me it was huge, because in those 12 seasons, we were not exactly at the top of the ladder.

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“We had a massive change, a new coach (Darren Austin) came in and he fitted in really well. A few players from Perth also came down and they ended up staying for a couple of years.”

The Slammers started the campaign 6-0, before falling to the Rockingham Flames 68-56 at the Mike Barnett Sports Complex on April 21.

But the seeds of momentum had already been sewn from training camp, according to Cartwright.

“It was good to just have someone not from Bunbury who was brand new,” she said. “And with “Aussie’s” credentials... he had done some pretty good stuff over east before he came over.

“It was just nice to have something fresh and a different look.”

It was also a unique start for Austin, who ironically missed those first four weeks of the season due to a previous travel commitment.

“I had a friend’s 40th birthday in South Africa which we were travelling over for,” he said. “And in the first six games we were undefeated.

“It was part and parcel as it was what I had paid for before I had come over from Queensland. We had a great start obviously and I can remember my first game back was against Cockburn and I think we were down by about 16 points at half time.

“Obviously Treena Worthington, as my assistant, had done the coaching for me while I was away and she did a wonderful job... but we ended up coming back, won the game and I felt we had a bit.”

It can be argued the “different look” of Austin’s squad was the sheer number of ways in which they could beat you after a tense struggle.

Whether it was Zoe Harper’s work under the glass, Donnelle Wallam’s height and athleticism, Kimberly Sitzmann’s offensive output or Bianca Donovan’s youthful enthusiasm and voice — every player played their role — even if they finished with a 15-7 record at the end of the regular season.

The Slammers took care of business during the opening two rounds of the finals, where they clinically disposed of Perth Redbacks and Willetton Tigers, recording consecutive 2-0 series wins.

Ahead of the grand final, Austin believes his team played their best basketball of the season against the Tigers, who had their measure during the season.

“They beat us by 16 points in our last home game before the finals along with earlier in the year and they were confident,” he said.

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