Western Stars win Women's National Wheelchair Basketball League championship in a thriller

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Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Sydney University Sports and Aquatic Centre, SydneyWikinews attended the finals of the Women's National Wheelchair Basketball League at the Sydney University Sports and Aquatic Centre over the weekend. The Be Active Western Stars won the Women's National Wheelchair Basketball League championship 40–43 in a low-scoring game on Sunday night against the Sachs Goudcamp Bears characterised by relentless defence by both sides.

Western Stars women's wheelchair basketball team. Players are, left to right: Sarah Vinci, Clare Nott, Georgia Inglis, Amanda Nott, Mandy Bonavita, Amber Merritt, Natalie Alexander
Image: Hawkeye7.
Amber Merritt attempts (unsuccessfully) to steal the net after winning the Western Stars won the 2013 WNWBL championships.
Image: Hawkeye7.
Victoria women's wheelchair basketball team. Left to right: Melanie Domaschenz, Brett Paxton (coach), Alice Hammond, Shelley Chaplin, Ellie Cole, Lynne Panayiotis, Leanne Del Toso
Image: Hawkeye7.

The Stars fought their way back from being nine points down at three quarter time to take the lead with only minutes to go, thanks to a spectacular shot by Georgia Inglis. The match saw Amber Merritt and Kylie Gauci engage in a protracted duel. At one point Merritt suffered a bone-crunching sideways fall that the crowd feared meant she had injured her shoulder, but Merritt got back up again.

Gauci was fouled out in the last minutes, and Merritt used her free throws to put the Stars three points up. Japanese import Mari Amimoto attempted to tie the game with a three pointer, but missed.

Merritt has suffered injury this season. She showed Wikinews a long scar along the right forearm. Surgeons had corrected where she had torn the muscle away from the bone.

The Bears won their place in the final by beating Victoria in the Qualifying Final on Friday night 40–62. The Stars had to defeat the Sydney Uni Flames 66–34 on Friday night and then Victoria 32–48 on Saturday night to earn their place in the final. Victoria defeated the Sydney Uni Flames 59–42 to claim the bronze medals.

After the games there were the presentations. The Western Stars' Clare Nott was named 1 point player MVP, Kylie Gauci was 2 point player MVP, Sarah Stewart from the Sydney Uni Flames was 3 point player MVP and Merritt was 4 point player MVP. These four players, along with Cobi Crispin from Victoria form the All Star Five for 2013. Victoria's Ellie Cole, who won four gold medals in swimming at the London Paralympics, was named Best New Talent. Nonetheless, Cole told Wikinews that she was not giving up swimming to become a basketball player.

Despite her injury, Merritt was the league's high scorer for the season. Mari Amimoto was named the MVP of the finals series, but Gauci was season MVP.

Liesl Tesch made a special presentation to Lisa Edmonds, a pioneer of the women's game who has been playing wheelchair basketball for 24 years. Lisa was part of the original Australian Women's basketball team back in 1989, and played in the 1992, 1996 and 2000 Paralympics.

This was the last season to be administered by Disabilty Sports Australia. Starting next season, the league will be administered by Basketball Australia


This article features first-hand journalism by Wikinews members. See the collaboration page for more details.
This article features first-hand journalism by Wikinews members. See the collaboration page for more details.