Stars commit to Braves

Joel Peterson | Bendigo Weekly | 09-Feb-2018

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Gabe Richards and Kelly Wilson are back in Braves colours. Photo: Andrew Perryman.
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ASK Megan Moody about the influx of signings ahead of her first season in charge of the Bendigo Lady Braves and she can barely contain her enthusiasm.

With the latest two names putting pen to paper for the team, it’s easy to understand why the first-year coach says she can’t wait for the season to start.

After beginning her first recruiting campaign announcing seven players in one hit, including Nadeen Payne and Ash Karaitiana, Moody turned to Bianca Dufelmeier whose signing was announced last week.

This week, the club went big – figuratively and literally.

For the first time since 2010, centre Gabe Richards will pull on a Bendigo Lady Braves jersey as she returns as the focal point of the team’s frontcourt.

And as revealed last week in the Bendigo Weekly, Kelly Wilson has also put pen to paper to give the team an experienced backcourt leader fresh off a WNBL championship.

“They’ll be our leaders. They’re such good players, such good people, I’m really excited to have them on board,” Moody said.

The Braves’ gain is Golden Square’s loss, with the duo forgoing their netball commitments to return to the Braves.

Wilson split time between the two last season, but missed finals with both as she was called to Townsville for WNBL commitments.

Her move to the Fire two seasons ago was a gamble for someone so established in Bendigo – both in basketball and in life.

But she says the championship the Fire claimed last month when they defeated the Melbourne Boomers in three games made it all worthwhile.

“I had such a disappointing year the first season and was injured for pretty much the entire previous campaign,” Wilson said.

“To be fit and healthy the entire season and come away with a win at the end... Any time you win a championship is pretty special but towards the end of my career that’s something I’m always going to remember.

“The move for me to leave Bendigo was a huge decision, not just for me but to leave my husband for six months of the year was a huge deal.

“The club, the community, it’s a really special place to play. I think that championship at the end made it all worth it.”

For Richards, the club was where her life in Bendigo started.

During her time away from the Braves she has won netball premierships with Mount Pleasant and Golden Square and also won a SEABL title with Knox in 2013 alongside Wilson and WNBA gun Bec Allen.

“I think Megan and the coaching staff and the team she’s been able to assemble is pretty exciting for a SEABL team,” she said.

“I’m getting older, I can’t play basketball forever and the opportunities to do that are getting smaller and smaller.

“When one presents like this you sort of have to take it.”

Moody says the team is eyeing further recruits, likely at the wing positions.

“We’re definitely looking to bring in a couple of more players I think. We need to work out what’s going to be that missing piece? That’s potentially a wing, but whether it’s a combo wing or a specialist, we’ll wait and see,” Moody said.

Despite the wishes of Braves fans, that wing signing won’t be Kelsey Griffin, who this week inked a training camp contract with the WNBA’s Connecticut Sun.

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