Fresh faces for senior country champs campaign

Cameron NewboldAlbany Advertiser

Albany Basketball Association will have a raft of fresh faces across the men and women’s championship division teams when they tackle the Basketball WA Senior Country Championships in Perth this weekend.

The Raiders have a long and successful history in the men’s side of the event, having won seven of the past 11 titles but a run of six straight grand final appearances ended last year when the men’s side failed to reach the decider.

Only two players from last year’s men’s top team will be in this weekend’s line-up while not one player from last year’s women’s team is going again.

Key duo Justin Benson and John Santia will be vital for the men’s hopes of returning to the grand final and they will be surrounded by young Raiders talent with Tom Edwards, Hunter Richards, Jeff Fitzpatrick, Mason Tion and Red Rogers, who are all exciting prospects.

Darren Berry will again coach the men’s championship division team to face Waroona and Bunbury on Saturday before clashing with Mandurah on Sunday and Kalgoorlie on Monday.

“We have a lot of the previous under-18s in the team which is really exciting,” Berry said.

“This team is always competitive but bringing in some young, exciting talent will help us immensely.

“We are a bit undersized but other than that I think we have a good combination.”

An entirely new side will run out for the Raiders in the women’s championship division, headed by talented twin sisters Nardia and Narelle Humphries, who were not part of the recent under-18 girls championships.

Centre Megan Baker will be the player-coach of the women’s team to go with experienced campaigners Cassandra Cheetham and Courtney Henderson.

Young guards Kayla Thomas and Jasmyne Jones will help the side play an up-tempo style, according to assistant coach Grant Smith.

“We have a good mix of experience and youth,” Smith said.

“The girls are looking forward to the challenge and hopefully we can play a fast game with some very athletic guards.

“We’ll be looking to start well, be strong offensively and put lots of pressure on defensively.”

The women’s side will play the other three teams in the division, Australind, Geraldton and Kalgoorlie, twice.

Albany will also field men’s teams in division 5 and veterans along with women’s teams in division 3 and division 5.

ABA Championship Division Teams

Men

Justin Benson

Zac Pearson

Red Rogers

Hunter Richards

Mason Tion

John Santia

Jackson Shaw

Jeff Fitzpatrick

Coach: Darren Berry

Women

Courtney Henderson

Cassandra Cheetham

Nardia Humphries

Narelle Humphries

Kayla Thomas

Jasmyne Jones

Megan Baker

Erica Su-Nami McKenzie

Coach: Megan Baker

Assistant: Grant Smith

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