2019 SPALDING WARATAH SENIOR LEAGUE | PREVIEW

Championship Men:

Last season, the Newcastle Hunters claimed their first title in 18 years, defeating the Norths Bears, 73-67, in the Grand Final. Multiple Novocastrians claimed individual awards to justify an outstanding overall team season. Jacob Foy captured the 2018 Youth Player of the Year, Captain Joshua Morgan received Defensive Player of the Year, and former Michigan State swingman Austin Thornton won the 2018 MVP and Grand Finals MVP. 

In 2019 the new-look Newcastle Hunters will face an uphill battle to defend their title, as they lose each of the previous pieces of their title run. Foy has gone overseas to play for Hawaii Pacific University under scholarship and may not be back till the middle of the season, Thornton is not returning and Morgan retired at the end of the 2018 season along with Head Coach, Darren Nichols.

The Newcastle Hunters start their 2019 campaign with a 2018 Grand Final rematch as they face the Norths Bears in a on Saturday, March 9th at 7:15pm. 

The Sutherland Sharks secured import Taj Spencer, a 6’7” forward out of California Baptist. Spencer averaged 12.4 PPG and 7.2 RPG during his senior season before playing professionally in Spain. Local Sutherland Junior, Lochlan Hutchison will also be an force for the Sharks after a sensational rookie season in 2018. He averaged 13 points per game and was awarded the Sharks MVP at the end of the season. Hutchison has spent his off-season working hard in a development position with the Sydney Kings. 

The Maitland Mustangs also brought over American imports for both their Men’s and Women’s Championship rosters. 6’8” power forward Isaiah Ellias, the bouncy 2018 graduate from Chico State University has athletic ability and will look to prove his professional stock with a successful stint in the Men’s Championship League. 

The Penrith Panthers are also set to welcome Japanese import Daiki Kobayashi for 2019. Kobayashi comes to the Panthers after a career in Japan’s professional league. He’ll be joined by returning Panthers Division 1 Youth Men 2018 All-Star 5 Guard Lachlan Charlton and 2018 All-Star 5 Championship Men Guard Ben Kearins.

Sydney Comets Championship Men’s team welcome back a mix of old and new players this year. Sydney Junior and former NBL player Indiana Faithfull joins the fray, as well as newcomers Daniel Carniel, Nathan Sutton, Max Wallner, Reggie Ridlen, Reed Nottage, and Matur Maluach. They round out their roster with a variety of experienced players in Tom Dawson, Alex Overs and Will McFee. They are a young side and will be eager to start the 2019 season on their home floor facing the Central Coast Crusaders, Saturday March 9th at 8:00pm. 

The Canberra Gunners make their return back to the league in 2019. Head coach Tony Plunkett aims to put ACT back on the map.

Teams Championship Men:

  1. Bankstown Bruins
  2. Canberra Gunners
  3. Central Coast Crusaders
  4. Hills Hornets
  5. Hornsby Spiders
  6. Manly Warringah Sea Eagles
  7. Maitland Mustangs
  8. Newcastle Hunters
  9. Norths Bears
  10. Penrith Panthers
  11. Sutherland Sharks
  12. Sydney Comets

Championship Women:

The Championship Women division expects a heated competition in 2019.  Many teams have secured both local and international talent for the fight along with new associations returning to the league.

The new ladder includes re-established teams from Canberra, Maitland and Manly after multi-year absences. A handful of outstanding WNBL players will also reenlist to join their respective associations.

The Canberra Nationals have acquired a number of WNBL athletes for their re-inaugural season. Newly-crowned league champions for the University of Canberra Capitals, Keely Froling, Abby Cubillo and former Capital Vice-Captain Kate Gaze will be suiting up in the Navy and Yellow. Gaze is set to miss the opening round of the league, but is on track for a full season after recovering from an anterior cruciate ligament tear during the middle half of 2018. Gaze will be a strong asset for the ACT side, coached by Jen Lonergan.

The Maitland Mustangs hope to field a strong team with the addition of 6’1” guard Alyssa Bennett. Bennett comes to the Waratah League after playing college ball in America at Hampton University, and internationally in Belgium and Luxembourg. Most recently, the guard averaged 17 PPG and 12 RPG for the Werribee Devils in the Big V League. The Mustangs will look to Bennett as a veteran presence in the locker room and as a community figure in Maitland.

Newcastle Hunters’ Hannah Young is back in the Green & White this season coming fresh from her WNBL Championship win the University of Canberra Capitals, where the rookie earned unique experience as part of a title team during the 2018/19 season. Young will have to wait until round 13 to face her UC Capitals teammates in what’s sure to be a fiery matchup against the Canberra Nationals. Newcastle has also recruited Gabriella Adams-Gavet, sister of NBA player Steven Adams and wife of the NRL Newcastle Knights’ James Gavet. The athletic 185cm power forward is a former New Zealand U20 representative and comes to the Spalding Waratah League as one to keep an eye on.

Fresh off a 2018 runner up season, the Sutherland Sharks boast their own WNBL talent in Perth Lynx point guard Shyla Heal. At the U17 World Cup, Heal supplanted herself as a top guard in her age group, earning a spot on the U17 All Star Five averaging 16 points and 5.7 rebounds per game after a standout tournament in the U18 Australian Junior Championship representing NSW. Heal will also be joined once again by her sister Ashleigh, as well as WNBL talents Sydney Uni Flames’ Maddy Norris and former Perth Lynx Melinda Andriejunas. Andriejunas is a returning veteran to the Sharks’ Championship Women’s side, previously playing six seasons for the team based in the Shire and has come out of retirement to help guide the young squad.

2018 title winners, Norths Bears hope to go back to back this season led by former Sydney King, current 3×3 Australian player and 2018 Coach of the Year, Tom Garlepp. The Bears will look to 2018 Grand Final MVP Elizajane Loader of the University of Canberra Capitals for her leadership.

Paul Lyth will coach the Hills Hornets in his second year with the team, with the consistent goal of improving ladder position. The team added import Leah Cotton, who will add some flare and experience to the young roster. Former Hornets junior Rachel Herrick rejoins the lineup after an absence and will add a veteran presence. Following a Championship in the Youth League Division, the younger members of the roster are buzzing with confidence and will hit the ground running against Hornsby in round one, Saturday March 9th at 5:30pm.

Teams Championship Women:

  1. Bankstown Bruins
  2. Canberra Gunners
  3. Central Coast Crusaders
  4. Hills Hornets
  5. Hornsby Spiders
  6. Manly Warringah Sea Eagles
  7. Maitland Mustangs
  8. Newcastle Hunters
  9. Norths Bears
  10. Penrith Panthers
  11. Sutherland Sharks
  12. Sydney Comets

Division 1 Men:

The Bankstown Bruins will take the competition head on in 2019 with 2018 All-Star Five guard Luke Davies and Defensive Player of the Year Paul Labua returning to the team. Davies averaged 25.1 PPG in a brilliant season for the Bruins, and looks to build on his 2018 success. Coach Greg Barnes and his lineup begin their quest on Saturday March 9th, at 4:00pm against the Canberra Gunners Academy.

For the first time in over 30 years, the Orange Eagles will field a team in the senior men’s competition. The Eagles will boast players like retired NBL talent Mitch Selwood, as well as the prospect of many former Bathurst Goldminers joining the squad.

Teams Division 1 Men

Pool A

  1. Bankstown Bruins 
  2. Canberra Gunners
  3. Dubbo Rams
  4. Illawarra Hawks
  5. Lithgow Lazers 
  6. Orange Eagles
  7. Queanbeyan Dolphins
  8. Shoalhaven Tigers
  9. Sutherland Sharks
  10. Wagga Wagga Heat 

Pool B

  1. Central Coast Crusaders
  2. Central Coast Waves
  3. Hawkesbury Jets
  4. Hills Hornets
  5. Manly Warringah Sea Eagles
  6. Newcastle Hunters
  7. Port Macquarie Dolphins
  8. Springwood Scorchers
  9. St George Saints
  10. Tamworth Thunderbolts

Division 1 Women:

The Division 1 Women Shoalhaven Tigers faced a full rebuild following a semi-final berth in 2018. Former Shoalhaven Tiger player, now turned coach Glen Mustapic has taken over the reins from the outgoing Ken Arthur. The team lost several key players from last years line up, including All Star 5 Member Kate Denyer. However, they’ve managed to recruit well and bring back veterans from previous championships along with exciting new talent from Illawarra and Batemans Bay. This new look Tigers outfit have had a successful preseason and will be ready to sink their claws into the Spalding Waratah competition this Saturday against the Queanbeyan Roadrunners.

The Dubbo Rams will take advantage of new sponsorship and will trot out a women’s senior team for the first time since 2012. American import and journeywoman Faatimah Amen-Ra looks to lend a helping hand in the revitalised Rams 2019 return to competition. The crafty guard has worked basketball camps across the world, and may serve a role as an on-court coach for the club.

Teams Division 1 Women

Pool A 

  1. Goulburn Bears 
  2. Queanbeyan Yowies
  3. Shoalhaven Tigers 
  4. Wagga Wagga Heat

Pool B

  1. Camden Valley Wildfire
  2. Coffs Harbour Suns
  3. Dubbo Rams
  4. Tamworth Thunderbolts

Division 1 Youth Men:

After capturing the Division Two Youth Men title in 2018, the Shoalhaven Tigers embark on a new challenge in Division One Youth Men. Coach Scott Balsar looks to take advantage of a talented roster, headlined by NSW representative and 2018 Grand Final MVP Riley O’Shannessy. The big man captured the 2018 D2 MVP and Rookie of the Year and spent the offseason training with the NBL’s Illawarra Hawks. The Tigers underwent an extended pre-season preparation session in Batemans Bay, in which they played a series against the Penrith Panthers, Bankstown Bruins and Illawarra Hawks, winning two of three games. Shoalhaven plays the Newcastle Hunters in round one of the Division One Youth Men competition, tipping off Saturday, March 9th at 3:00pm.

Central Coast defeated the Penrith Panthers in the Youth Men Grand Final last year by a score of 86-67. A number of players earned accolades in last year’s campaign, including All-Star Five Forward Thomas Akamarmoi, Defensive Player of the Year Oliver Robilliard, and Grand Final MVP Richard Whitmore, however most of last season’s squad will not be returning this year. Robilliard has shifted to Central Coast’s Championship Men’s side which will be a huge inclusion for the team. Over the off-season the Crusaders did pick up Will Cranston-Lown, a 6’1” guard who averaged 24.4 PPG last season in Division Two, as well as earned his own Defensive Player of the Year honors. Cranston-Lown shined as a representative of New South Wales during the Australian U20 Championships in 2018, shooting 42% from three.

Last year’s runner up in Penrith Panthers will field a very young team in 2019 with only three returning players in Sam Pares, Kevin Achampong and Josh Shepard. Eight players from last year’s U18’s representative squad will come up to YLM with two more renewing their membership after taking a season off. Pares stepped up in last year’s finals series and will look to lead the group into a competitive competition. 

Teams Division 1 Youth Men

  1.  Bankstown Bruins
  2.  Canberra Gunners
  3.  Central Coast Crusaders
  4.  Hills Hornets
  5.  Illawarra Hawks
  6.  Manly Warringah Sea Eagles
  7.  Maitland Mustangs
  8.  Newcastle Hunters
  9.  Penrith Panthers
  10.  Shoalhaven Tigers
  11.  Sutherland Sharks
  12.  Sydney Comets

Division 1 Youth Women:

Former WNBL player and seasoned NSW State team coach Renee Garlepp will be taking lead responsibilities for her Norths Bears Women’s Youth League side in 2019. After finishing 6th last year in the regular season, the Bears will look to NSW representativesImogen Greenslade and Rebekah Dallinger to put the points on the board and lead from the front. Dallinger will be doing double duty in the Waratah League, as she’ll participate in Division 1 Youth Women and the Championship Women’s league. The busy baller was recently selected for the Australian Basketball Indigenous side, the only female from New South Wales to represent the state.

Albury have also included both a Division 1 Youth Women and Division 2 Youth Men team for the 2019 season after a number years out of the division. 

Teams Division 1 Youth Women

Pool A 

  1. Albury 
  2. Bankstown Bruins
  3. Hornsby Spiders 
  4. Illawarra Hawks
  5. Penrith Panthers
  6. Sutherland Sharks

Pool B

  1. Central Coast Crusaders
  2. Hills Hornets
  3. Maitland Mustangs
  4. Manly Warringah Sea Eagles
  5. Newcastle Hunters 
  6. Sutherland Sharks
  7. Norths Bears
  8. Sydney Comets

Division 2 Youth Men:

The Illawarra Hawks representation beat Sydney Comets in the 2018 semifinals, 97-61, before falling to Shoalhaven in the Grand Final, 83-71. Led by Coach of the Year Luke Mcguire, the Hawks featured a balanced attack, having Patrick Lancaster finish top five in total match points and Jerome Thompson as the overall three point leader with 72 makes. A sound system can lead to more success in 2019, especially with last year’s D2YM winner in Shoalhaven out of the picture. 

Teams Division 2 Youth Men

Pool A 

  1. Albury 
  2. Blacktown Storm 
  3. Camden Valley Wildfire 
  4. Goulburn Bears
  5. Hornsby Ku Ring Gai Spiders White 
  6. Illawarra Hawks
  7. Inner West Bulls 
  8. Macarthur Heat 
  9. Moss Vale Magic

Pool B 

  1. Coffs Harbour Suns 
  2. Hawkesbury Jets 
  3. Hills Hornets 
  4. Hornsby Ku Ring Gai Spiders Green 
  5. Maitland Mustangs 
  6. Newcastle Hunters 
  7. Norths Bears 
  8. Springwood Scorchers 
  9. St George Saints 
  10. Sydney Comets

Click HERE for 2019 Spalding Waratah Senior league draw

Click HERE to visit our online store and purchase your very own Spalding basketball

 

Written by Daniel Zaborsky 




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