Big V: Raiders back on road to success

After a tumultuous few years off the court, it must feel good to be winning games on it once more.

Knox Raiders, who have long been a staple in conversations about the biggest and best basketball associations in Victoria, are back doing what they do best in Big V State Championship this year.

Photo Credit: Big V Media

After falling victim to a global fraud scheme in 2015 that left the giant club on the brink of collapse, the Raiders’ future looked bleak, with both their senior and junior programs in serious jeopardy.

The club was forced to withdraw from the SEABL competition it had long been a powerhouse in, while around 5,500 junior members were left in limbo as well.

Fast forward a year, however, and the Knox basketball association is well and truly thriving once more.

While just three rounds into the 2016 Big V season, which the club entered over SEABL to ensure both short and long term success with less risk involved, both the senior men’s and women’s teams are sitting pretty with a zero in the loss column.

Knox’s women, who are 5-0 and sitting second on the State Championship Women’s ladder, is largely comprised of a number of talented juniors who have come up through the ranks of the club, while the additions of former SEABL player Lucy Dawson and Ringwood championship-winning pair Emma Beddome and Tara Blair has been a recipe for success.

The jury was still out after the Raiders’ first two games after they got past Bulleen in a round one scrap before dismantling strugglers Whittlesea.

That was until a fortnight ago, when Knox sent powerhouse Hume City packing in a tight and hard-fought victory.

All the more impressive is that their undefeated start has come despite initial plans for an import, and a very good one at that, falling through due to visa complications just prior to the season tipping off. Thankfully for the Raiders, a replacement has just hit the floor this past weekend.

In the meantime, it has been a determined and gritty defensive effort the linchpin of their performances, which will no doubt hold them in good stead as the season rolls on.

Photo Credit: Big V Media

It has been a similar story in State Championship Men, with the Darryl McDonald-coached Raiders also 4-0 and sitting second in the standings to date.

The wins have come against highly touted McKinnon, strugglers Whittlesea and Eltham, as well as mid-table specialists Hume City, making it hard to gauge where the Raiders actually sit amongst a very strong and competitive league of teams.

Import duo Brandon Polk and Mike Rose have undoubtedly been the stars of the show so far, providing big numbers and numerous highlights, however the likes of Dylan Hare and Adrian Tomada have also provided plenty for their side.

Photo Credit: Big V Media

The early success will undoubtedly bring plenty of people in to watch a product which is fantastic across the entire Big V, let alone at a club that is winning games and thrilling audiences along the way, ensuring growth across the rest of the season for the Raiders.

Knox’s history of sustained success at all levels of basketball across Victoria has often meant a love/hate relationship with the club for many of its rivals, however their ability to bounce back from adversity and emerge from a period of uncertainty almost as strong as ever cannot be denied.

While it is a long season in the Big V, the early signs are that the Raiders will be playing deep into season 2016, and that is only good for the club, the competition and for basketball.

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