Vikings look to next generation in 2017
BASKETBALL: Grafton Vikings captain Sam Wicks will look to the new era of Grafton basketball this Sunshine Conference season as the side look to avenge their grand final defeat at the hands of the Byron Beez.
With competition set to tip off this weekend, the Vikings will host Byron Bay in a grand final rematch but after a strong effort in pre-season across the squad Wicks is predicting a vastly different result.
While the side was dealt a major off-season blow with the departure of fiery power forward Nathan Earp there is a new crop of talent rising through the ranks led by young stars Jack Boorman and Lane Delaforce.
"They both have grown an inch since then and are looking a whole lot stronger," Wicks said.
"They have been playing a lot more of a senior style of basketball but are obviously still fit and in their youth. They bring that bit of attitude to the team and the spring that we need.
"We actually had a few of the juniors from last year come through to the senior ranks like young Brayden Predo."
It is not just the young brigade who are new to the Vikings roster this season, with Wicks brother and former Grafton Ghosts prop Mitch Wicks making his debut in conference matches.
The hulking forward will take the place of Earp in the front court to utilise his size and fitness to edge out the opposition in competition for the ball.
Coming off the back of a dominant performance in their pre-season trial match against Lismore Storm (83-62 win) at the weekend, Wicks is confident heading into this weekend's first round.
With memories of last season's desperation two-point loss in the grand final still haunting the point guard, he is champing at the bit to rectify the result.
"I have thought about it a bit, everyone has, losing in front of our home crowd too, it just makes you hungry to come back this year and have another go at the grand final," he said. "With a bit of extra fitness we will be able to push harder on court this year."
Round 1: Grafton Vikings v Byron Bay Beez at the Grafton Sports Centre. Ladies tip-off from 4.30 with mens to follow at 6.30pm.