Albany put faith in young guards for country champs

Headshot of Cameron Newbold
Cameron NewboldAlbany Advertiser
Young guards Keanu Weeden and Alyssa Ward will represent Albany this weekend at the BWA Senior Country Championships.
Camera IconYoung guards Keanu Weeden and Alyssa Ward will represent Albany this weekend at the BWA Senior Country Championships. Credit: Laurie Benson Albany Advertiser

The Albany Basketball Association’s men’s senior team has undergone a changing of the guard as they attempt to add to their already outstanding record at the Basketball WA Senior Country Championships this weekend.

Only four members of last year’s successful championship-winning side remain and Albany stalwart Justin Benson has called time on his illustrious time as a championship division player.

Benson has led Albany’s top-tier men’s team for numerous years, playing in more than 20 consecutive years at championship division level. but has stepped down to play in Albany’s veterans’ team.

Albany will be chasing a ninth championship division title in 13 years following their four-point win over Bunbury in 2018, which came after they won five straight titles from 2011-2015.

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Young guard Keanu Weeden will be one of several debutants at this year’s championships.

John Santia, Jeff Fitzpatrick, Zac Pearson and Tom Edwards all remain from last year’s title triumph, but the addition of Hamish McMorran gives the side much-needed height.

Weeden, 18, will head to the senior championships for the first time, preparing to bring a title home along with his girlfriend and Albany women’s player Alyssa Ward.

Ward, 17, will be a key part of Albany’s quest to clinch their first women’s championship division title in several years, joining a young and speedy outfit.

Sister Caitlin Ward, Jasmyne Jones, Aleesha Narkle and Shianne Arthur will provide plenty of fast transition, while talls Brittany Tomlinson and Macy Lane will shoulder the load inside.

Men’s coach Adrian Masters hopes his side can gel quickly after an interrupted lead-up to the tournament. “Due to various things we are a little under-prepared, I feel,” Masters said.

“Jeff and Hamish will have to play inside and other guys may have to play different roles.

“The weekend for us will come down to work rate. If we can work our backside off in defence and expose teams in our transition then we are a hope.”

Albany men’s side will face Mandurah and Geraldton in qualifying games on Saturday.

Women’s coach David Arthur is confident his side will contend, as they prepare to tackle Kalgoorlie and Geraldton in Saturday’s opening games. “We have good ball carriers and a lot of these girls have played together with Raiders before,” he said.

Albany also has teams in men’s division 5 and vets and ladies’ teams in division 3 and division 5, while Denmark has a team in men’s division 3.

ABA Championship Division Teams

Men: John Santia; Hamish McMorran; Tom Edwards; Zac Pearson; Keanu Weeden; Jeff Fitzpatrick; Jaylen Beattie; Aiden Clothier; Coach: Adrian Masters.

Women: Jasmyne Jones; Aleesha Narkle; Shianne Arthur; Brittany Tomlinson; Caitlin Ward; Alyssa Ward; Tully Lane; Coach: David Arthur.

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