Lady Breakers up for tough first task against powerhouse Shepp

By Meg Saultry

Benalla Breakers women’s coach Tony Long expects a tough first game for a young and inexperienced Lady Breaker team, with Shepparton Gators the first cab out of the rank for the local team.

The senior team, which is the first of its kind for Benalla, is made up of a mix of senior and junior players, with several players returning from playing in Shepparton and Wangaratta to compete for their home town.

Young Breaker: With no women's team in the past, Benalla teen Isabella Riley will line up at home this season, after playing for Shepp Gators.

Long said while the team had had a slow start over the preseason, he believed they were “slowly building into a solid group that is going forward.”

“We won’t be sensational when we come out first of all,” Long said.

“But I think over the season we’ll certainly build into a group that people realise, we’re going to take some respect from.”

McBay to make her-story as first Benalla Lady Breakers captain

The team is set to play 12 games this season, with a mix of home and away games.

And it’s the home games, Long said, where he would set some real goals for success.

“We’ll set some goals to get some wins at home,” Long said.

“If we can get half our wins at home, I’d be pretty happy with that.

“And if we can strike one away, or a couple away, that would be a bonus for us.

“That’s where we will start off and we’ll see where we get from there.”

But first up will be an almighty test, with the Breakers traveling to face Shepparton Gators on their home court.

Up-and-in: Chelsea Gilcrist brings plenty of leadership and playing experience to the Breakers.

And despite Long not yet seeing a team list for the Gators, the coach said he was expecting a strong Gators outfit to take to the court Saturday night.

“I’m assuming they’ll be a young group, they had some players nearing their end, so that will make the road a little bit easier for us,” Long said.

“But they are an accomplished team and set of people, so we expect a tough game for that first one.

“As long as we can hold our heads up high and put in a great effort, I’ll be happy.”

When asked who to look out for this season, Long gave an exclusive insight in the stocks of his women’s team.

“Issy Riley will be strong on the outside, while I expect Chelsea [Gilcrist] and Ellie Culhane to mix things up on the inside,” Long said.

“Loni [McBay] will be an experienced head and Gertie McCallum is an accomplished point guard.”

And as for defence?

“We’ll play a team defence and work from there,”

“We’re starting off and getting to know each other.”

● Benalla will play Shepparton Gators in Shepp this Saturday night, starting at 8pm. The Benalla Lady Breakers will take to the court at 6pm.

2019 Benalla Lady Breakers team

1 Greer Mitchell

2 Kaitlynne Frost

3 Gertie McCallum

4 Laura Fawcett

6 Chelsea Gilcrist

8 Isabella Riley

9 Madison Gray

10 Sarah Fawcett

11 Alexandra Robinson

12 Tahlia Pallpratt

13 Ellie Culhane

14 Kirsty Spinks

15 Chloe Glazebrook

21 Mikayla Cole

23 Loni McBay