SEASON REVIEW: BE ACTIVE WESTERN STARS
BE ACTIVE WESTERN STARS
Wins - 9
Losses – 6
Standing – 3rd
2016 result – 15 wins, 1 loss
Finishing in the top three for the fourth consecutive year, the Stars were the 2017 bronze medalists. They had two players named in the All-Star Five with Amber Merritt earning the 4.0 MVP while Sarah Vinci was named the 1.0 MVP. Vinci continues to be an integral member of the Stars, earning her second consecutive MVP award after recording 6.8 points, 3.5 rebounds and 2.6 assists for 2017. Chihiro Kitada returned and was very impressive again for the club, going close to averaging a triple-double with 16.6 points (fourth in the league), 13.9 rebounds (first) and 9.2 assists (first). Jocelyn Neumueller also proved herself as a future star while Anneka Bodt and Jonelle Morley played 14 games for the year which will prove beneficial moving forward.
While the Stars still claimed the bronze medal in 2017, they will be disappointed not to have defended their 2016 title. Proving their mettle against the Comets in two finals, they still struggled to get past either Sydney team throughout the year, finishing with a 2-5 record against the top two teams in the competition. Defensively, they gave up as many points through the regular season as the Lady Heelers but season interruptions to Kitada and Merritt (through injury) did not help their cause.
Arguably the standout for the entire league once again in 2017, Merritt extended her 4.0 MVP award streak to seven dating back to 2011 while she was also the league’s Top Scorer for the seventh consecutive season with 29.8 points per game. Merritt finished fifth for rebounds (11 per game) and tallied 12 double-doubles for the year while hitting more free-throws than any other player with 33. Scoring over 30 points in ten games for the year including a 36-point performance in the bronze medal game, Merritt’s best output was an incredible 56-point effort against Kilsyth.
The Stars have had sustained success for a long period and they will be aiming for at least a podium finish again next year but after the disappointment of not defending their Championship, that will be the ultimate goal for 2018. With Merritt in the side, they are a force to be reckoned with but you cannot dispute how important Kitada has been over the past few years as a complement to her at both ends of the court. They will be searching for a playmaker outside of those two with Vinci the next highest assist-tallier with just 2.56 per game.