SEASON PREVIEW: BE ACTIVE WESTERN STARS
Last Year: 9 wins, 6 losses- 3rd
Roster: Amber Merritt, Natalie Alexander, Mary Friday, Chihiro Kitada, Sarah Vinci, Georgia Inglis, Lauren Hardbottle, Tiarne Pell, Shaunah Key.
Round 1 has a bit of everything for the Stars as they begin their 2018 campaign with a Preliminary Final re-match against the Flames before they meet the Comets who will be out for revenge after falling to the Stars in the bronze medal playoff last year. They also take on the defending Champions in Sydney Metro over the first weekend while a bye in the last round of the regular season could mean they have an agonising wait to see if they reach the finals.
The one-two punch of Amber Merritt and Chihiro Kitada immediately places the Stars in the hunt for the Championship in 2018 with both players sitting in the top four for scoring last season. Merritt was named the 4.0 MVP after averaging 29.8 points with a season-high of 56 coming against Kilsyth while Kitada recorded 16.6 points, 13.9 rebounds and 9.2 assists per game and tallied seven triple-doubles. The chemistry they have from previous seasons will also be a great benefit as they face an intense opening weekend to the season while the addition of Georgia Inglis is another boost for the team. An experienced WNWBL player, Inglis comes over from Red Dust and averaged nine points, five boards and 4.9 assists last season as another member of the Stars who can share the ball. Finally, Sarah Vinci earned her second consecutive 1.0 MVP award last season and she can expect to receive a lot of court time again throughout the 2018 campaign.
One To Watch:
Natalie Alexander. With so many weapons on the roster, a player like Alexander can slip under the radar but her 3.4 points, 2.2 rebounds and 1.3 assists last year were very handy contributions. She got to the free-throw line 14 times across the season and saw her minutes increase as the Stars drew closer to the playoffs before averaging 33 minutes per game in the finals as a key piece of the puzzle for the Stars.