With a round to play, the finals teams are locked in for State Championship women, leaving six teams to look ahead to next year. Did those teams live up to pre-season expectations or fall short of the mark?
Record (with a game to play): 7-12 (sixth)
The Wildcats have lacked offense around Olivia Bontempelli all season, and after losing Hayley Munro over the off-season that was to be expected. They were in many games throughout and should’ve banked at least a couple more wins, namely in their first clash with undermanned Waverley. Nonetheless, they were still a way off being a playoff side and sixth place was probably as high as they were expected to have finished. A clash at Ringwood awaits in their final hit-out of the season, which almost certainly sees them finish with a tally of seven wins for the year.
Record (with a game to play): 7-12 (seventh)
The Cougars would have to be this year’s big losers in State Championship women, going from a playoffs side and perennial third-place finishers to a team devoid of offensive options. Admittedly, there were wholesale changes at the end of 2014 to their roster, but with two highly-touted imports joining the squad ahead of this season they were expected to be well and truly in the mix for a finals berth at least. Instead, they struggled to seven wins, with a clash against third-placed Southern Peninsula to come. They also copped a 30-point belting at home by fourth-placed Bulleen – their main rivals for the final playoffs spot – when their season was on the line, showing just how big the void between the Cougars and the finals really was.
Record (with a game to play): 7-12 (eighth)
It is hard to place the Venom this season, with seven wins being a massive improvement on last season, but it has come as a result of bringing former WNBA star Chastity Reed on board. Before Reed arrived, the Venom again looked downright awful at the offensive end, and since the American has been injected into the line-up, Warrandyte has won plenty of games and even have the opportunity to finish sixth with a winnable clash against Bulleen coming up to end the season. Nonetheless, Reed has the best credentials of just about any player in the league, and that means her team probably should have been playing the Boomers for a spot in the finals this week instead. If Reed had joined the team in time for round one, then who knows, maybe they would have been.
Diamond Valley Eagles
Record (with a game to play): 6-13 (ninth)
The Eagles lost Carly Turner in the off-season, and given she was pretty much their entire offense last season, not a lot was expected of the young side this season. On top of that, a coaching change mid-season only made it tougher for Diamond Valley to string wins together, and at times it definitely showed in their performances. Nonetheless, six wins isn’t the end of the world, even if a recent run of three straight made it look a little brighter. There is no doubt that Diamond Valley are in a rebuilding phase, and while wins are nice, development is the main focus at the club right now.
Record: 5-15 (tenth)
The Tigers have finished their season with a bye in the final round, with five wins their return for 2015. In the early stages of the season, things were looking pretty ugly for the young side, with the club’s decisions to load up their youth side at the expense of their seniors at times making for some ugly score lines. The addition of Helen Roden turned their fortunes around, and at one stage the Tigers were even within range of making a finals assault, however their back end of the year has been poor and they will now finish second-last to the winless Suns in a season that will ultimately be remembered as a write-off.
Record (with a game to play): 0-19 (eleventh)
There is no other way to describe the Suns in 2015 other than completely out of their depth. Five scores in the 20’s and six in the 30’s just about sums it up, with a 70-point thumping at ladder-leading Hume City last week putting the exclamation point on things. The Suns were hit with their fair share of injuries, namely Esther Timmermans very early on after she had looked set for a big year, and have had to run with as low as six players in the second half of the year. However, the fact still remains that they failed to score 40 points in more than half of their games, and it would be very surprising if the Suns remained in State Championship next season.
To find your local club’s fixtures and results, and to keep up to date with all the league news and information over the season, head to www.bigv.com.au or click here.