Perfect start for Grafton women
THE Grafton Vikings women had five players in double figures as they began their NSW State League Basketball campaign with a 73-63 victory over Lismore in Grafton on Saturday night.
It was an up and down encounter dominated by offence, with both teams at times looking like they would cruise to victory.
Lismore enjoyed a height advantage over the Vikings and scored the bulk of their points from mismatches inside the paint.
To combat this the Vikings looked to use their speed and skill, which eventually helped them take control of the match.
The Vikings began well and led 19-13 at quarter-time. Lismore fought back well in the second period, going to the break boasting a 36-32 lead.
However, Grafton set up their victory in the all-important third quarter, outscoring the visitors 19-9 to take a six-point lead into the final stanza.
A 22-18 final term have the Vikings a comfortable 10-point victory and a perfect start to the season.
Haley Cassell was outstanding, top scoring for the Vikings with 16 points. Aimee Durbidge (14) and Emma Kopsikas (13) were equally impressive.
Interim women's coach Bruce Leonard praised his side's endeavour, but said they still had improvement left in them.
“Most of the team was playing their first game in the seniors, make their effort even better,” Leonard said.
“They have a lot of work to do if they are to be a threat, but the desire to succeed is there.
“Emma and Haley showed enough to indicate they will lead the team well all season.”
Leonard also spoke highly of Brittney Ainsworth (10 points) - who is just 16 - Alex Wilson (11) and Gabby Johnson.
“Aimee Durbidge and Emma Brennan were outstanding in the rebounds department at both ends of the court, and veterans Kelle Murphy, Natalie Sear and Kelly Smyth all contributed greatly to the win,” he said.
The women have a few weeks off before their next game.