Signing boom for Lady Braves

Joel Peterson | Bendigo Weekly | 21-Dec-2017

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Kara Tessari, Jessie Rennie, Nadeen Payne, Ash Karaitiana, Madi Sexton and Ahlise Hurst.
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THE Bendigo Lady Braves have built the foundation of their roster, securing the signatures of seven players for the 2018 South east Australian Basketball League campaign.

Coach Megan Moody has wasted no time on the recruiting front, and has a mix including proven national-level talent, a trio of teenagers and a SEABL debutant.

Nadeen Payne and Ash Karaitiana will swap Spirit colours for those of the Lady Braves in the strongest sign yet of a closer alignment between the Spirit and Braves.

Spirit point guard Kara Tessari will also continue to ply her trade at Bendigo Stadium, in her debut SEABL season.

Four of this year’s Lady Braves side will also return, with Spirit development players Jessie Rennie, Ahlise Hurst and Maddy Wild coming back while sharpshooter Madi Sexton will also come back for another Braves campaign.

The initial crop of players indicates a young, athletic Lady Braves roster with plenty of perimeter shooting.

Moody said she is thrilled with the signings.

“I think we’ve really started things strong with this group. There’s a good mix of talent and experience there,” she said.

The Lady Braves are coming off a conference title, a run that keyed mostly on veteran recruits.

Moody said the likes of Hurst, Rennie, Sexton, Tessari and Wild can expect plenty of opportunity this season.

“The likes of Ahlise Hurst has come along really well during the Spirit season, the same for Jessie and for Maddy Wild who has been going up against the likes of Gabe Richards every week in training,” she said.

“These girls are ready to step up to a bigger opportunity and carry a bit more of the load and I certainly expect them to do that.”

Payne is a proven WNBL player as well as a star at state league level, while Karaitiana has also been a number one option in the Queensland Basketball League.

So strong were their respective seasons last year, Karaitiana’s Brisbane Spartans played Payne’s Mackay Meteorettes in the grand final and both were named to the league’s all-star team. 

“(Payne) has been such an integral part of the Spirit program, I think anyone that has seen the games has seen what a fantastic player she is,” Moody said.

“Ash can play all over the place – pretty much one through four for us – so the versatility she brings is really important.

“Then we mix in those younger players and give them the opportunity to shine, and hopefully shine pretty brightly.”

The SEABL season begins on April 6, with a raft of changes for the upcoming campaign.

The two-conference structure will be abolished, giving way to an eight-team finals series.

Restricted player rules will also change, though they are unlikely to affect Lady Braves players.

The side will also have to manege a far longer break between WNBL and SEABL seasons, with around three months between the end of the WNBL season and the start of SEABL.

In previous years, the gap has on occasion been a matter of days.

The club will round its roster out with more signings, likely another big to provide some support for Wild and Payne at the forward spots.

Rim protection looks the side’s weakness on paper as currently constructed, but Moody wasn’t giving much away.

We’re still chatting to a couple of players right now, we hope we get who we’re talking to, but it’s such an interesting side now being on the other side of that discussion,” she said.

“I think we’ll have a competitive team but also a great team in terms of being full of good people that is good for the community and great to pass on their knowledge to the next generation coming through.”

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