THEY went down in last season’s grand final but now the Bathurst Goldminers women’s State League Basketball side are confident they have the team together to go one spot better as a new year of basketball starts this weekend.
A new-look Goldminers begin their season this Saturday night when they travel to take on the St George Saints, with high hopes of getting 2017 off to a winning start.
Goldminers have retained many key personnel. Among those back for more include last year’s defensive player of the season Chelsea Noon, previous season’s All Star Five duo Rachel Murray and Laycee Covington-Gorst plus NSW Country representatives Matilda Flood and Olivia Doble.
Exciting additions to the Bathurst lineup include former Newberry College star Haylee Lepaio, who has returned to her home city, plus last season’s Newcastle Hunters captain Sophie Kleeman, who has moved to Orange alongside partner Willie Heta – Orange Hawks’ new captain-coach.
Paul Masters and Kieran Purvis will be the new coaches for the State League side, taking over from the role vacated by Jo Cafe.
Masters said the additions to the team will add another dimension to their game.
“We have Sophie Kleemen this year, who was an All Star Five player for Newcastle in the ABA last year. Her fiancé [Willie Heta] is coaching the Orange Hawks in Group 10, so she’s moved here but still wanted to play,” he said.
“Haylee’s moved back after playing ABA with Albury. Claire Woolmington’s back too. She played the start of last season before her uni commitments came through. There’s Bronte Emanuel, Jess Matthews, Rachel Murray and Laycee Covington-Gorst back as well.
“The nucleus from last year’s team is back, plus these extra players. It’s a pretty crash hot team and it’s really exciting.
“There’s not going to be many players who can stop Haylee, size-wise and strength-wise. Athleticism is strong in the team too.”
Masters can already see a sense of determination in the team before the first tip-off.
“The girls were very upset last year after they didn’t win it and I think some of them have come back to right the wrong from last year,” he said.
It will be a some time before the Goldminers will enjoy their first home match this season on April 29, which will be their fifth game of the year.
Before that match against the Goulburn Bears the Bathurst women will take on Shoalhaven Tigers, Coffs Harbour Suns and Maitland Mustangs.