Season Preview - Lakeside Lightning
Lakeside Lightning 2012 Season Preview Men -
2011 Recap: The Lightning were nothing short of dominant during the regular season. They went 24-2, finishing six games ahead of second-placed Wanneroo, and were unbackable favourites to win the championship going into the playoffs. But everything went wrong in the semi-final series against Perry Lakes. Superstar import Luke Payne suffered an eye injury in game one, which kept him off the court for key periods and played a huge role in their loss. Payne returned for game two a week later but suffered a leg injury and the Lightning lost the deciding game without him. The swingman enjoyed a phenomenal regular season, averaging more than 27 points per game, while Jarrad Prue was at his dominant best on the boards. Ben Beran suffered a long-term injury early in the season and couldn't consistently get back to his devastating best, but he still averaged 23.7 points per game.
Off-Season Grade: B-
Off-Season Summary: There can be few complaints for Lightning fans, with most of their key figures back in the fold. Beran and Prue are back, forming the best front court in the league, while Payne also returns for another season. Starting guard Steve Butler has retired though, which is going to leave Ryan and Chris Sofoulis to carry much of the back court load. Coach Andy Stewart will look to Kyle Armour, who showed positive signs in 2011, to help fill Butler's void, although the two are quite different players. Brad Jackson and Simon Lokan were both impressive early in the 2011 campaign before fading and Stewart will hope they can deliver more consistently. Gary Street, who played with Goldfields in 2011, has been added to the squad and will provide front court depth.
2012 Fixtures: Three of Lakeside's first four opponents missed the finals in 2011, so it's a friendly start. They finish the season with games against Grand Finalists Wanneroo and Perry Lakes though, so they wouldn't want to be relying on wins late in the campaign.
2011 Recap: As in 2010, the Lightning snuck into the playoffs before being knocked out by Willetton in the first round. They did give the eventual champions an almighty scare in the quarter-finals this time around though, winning game one and taking the deciding game down to the final seconds. Darren Nash's young Lakeside team improved throughout that campaign, but it was the performances of veterans Jess van Schie (7.2 points and 3.2 steals per game) and Heidi McNeil (17 points per game) which saw them make the playoffs.
Off-Season Grade: D-
Off-Season Review: McNeil and van Schie were the Lightning's two most important players in 2011 but they'll have to do without the pair in 2012 and those losses will be extremely tough to overcome. van Schie is pregnant and won't play this year, while McNeil has departed. Jessica Seyler, a 28-year-old, 180cm import forward from America is their main acquisition, with the bulk of their other additions players promoted from the WABL program. Youngsters Courtney Byrnes and Courtney Bayliss have returned, while Emily Fielding was also a key member of the team last year and she'll be back with a much bigger load to carry due to their off-season losses.
2012 Fixtures: Much like the men, they wouldn't want to be relying on late wins thanks to their final two games being against Wanneroo and Perry Lakes. They do have four consecutive home games before that though, including games against 2011 bottom three sides Southwest and Stirling.
Article by Jacob Kagi
Photo by Helen Theoharakis (Hoop Shots)