Tenacious Jayco Rangers guard Amelia Todhunter played her 200th WNBL game against the Melbourne Boomers in the Melbourne Cup Eve game at the State Basketball Centre earlier this week in front of the biggest crowd of the 2017/18 season to date. Todhunter is the second player on the Rangers roster to reach 200 WNBL games, joining her captain Steph Blicavs (nee Cumming) who has played 264 WNBL games including 169 for Dandenong. Todhunter will join Blicavs as playing 100 WNBL games with the Rangers in the club’s home game against Bendigo on Sunday, November 19 at Traralgon Stadium. Todhunter’s greatest strengths throughout her career have been her hustle and anticipation to create steals, rebounding ability for a guard and defense, having been one of four nominees for the WNBL Robyn Maher Defensive Player of the Year award in 2016/17.
At 29 years of age Todhunter is playing her 11th season in the WNBL during 2017/18 and sixth with the Dandenong Rangers, having player her first three seasons with the club from 2007/08 to 2009/10, before spending four of the next five seasons playing for the Boomers in two separate stints, separated by one season in between, 2012/13 with the West Coast Waves (now known as the Perth Lynx). In Amelia’s first two seasons with the Boomers they were known as the Bulleen Boomers, however when she returned to the club after her season with West Coast the Boomers had changed their name from Bulleen to Melbourne. Given Todhunter’s history with both the Rangers and the Boomers it is fitting that she reaches the significant milestone of 200 WNBL games in a derby between the two clubs.
Amelia returned to the Jayco Rangers in 2015/16 and is playing her third consecutive season with the club. When she signed with the Rangers for the 2017/18 season Amelia commented “I started playing WNBL for the Jayco Rangers 10 years ago and from day one the fans & the club has been so supportive and welcoming. So it’s only fitting for me to be back where it all started for me as a WNBL player. I love the girls I play with here and the team-first focus that Larissa ingrains into us; I know we’ve got a big season ahead and can’t wait to get back out on the court!”1
During Todhunter’s five WNBL seasons away from the Dandenong Rangers from 2010/11 to 2014/15 she had remained heavily involved with the Dandenong Rangers program, playing in the South East Australia Basketball League (SEABL) with the Dandenong Rangers. Todhunter has represented the Rangers in the past eight SEABL seasons from 2010 to 2017 and has played a pivotal role in the Rangers from 2010 to 2016 being the most successful women’s SEABL team of all-time with Dandenong winning five championships in seven seasons, a three-peat from 2010 to 2012 before winning back to back SEABL championship in 2015 and 2016. In the Rangers 2012 and 2015 Championships Amelia won the Grand Final MVP award with brilliant all-round performances.
In four seasons – 2012/13, 2013/14, 2015/16 and 2016/17 Todhunter has ranked in the top 25 of the WNBL for steals including two seasons that she ranked in the top 10 of the league. During 2016/17 Todhunter had a career-high 46 steals for the season, averaging 1.6 steals a game – ranked fifth in the WNBL. In the 2015/16 and 2016/17 WNBL seasons with the Jayco Rangers Amelia won the award for being the club’s Defensive Player of the Year.
Amelia was born on 21 May, 1988 and grew up in Albury, a major regional city in Southern New South Wales located on the Northern Side of the Murray River, with twin City Wodonga located on the Southern side of the Murray River in Victoria, currently the population in the Albury-Wodonga region is more than 100,000. Albury is 260 km north-east of Melbourne in a straight-line (325km by road). Australia’s greatest basketball player of all-time Lauren Jackson was born and grew up in Albury. Jackson played on three WNBA championship winning teams, five WNBL championship winning teams and was named the WNBA MVP three times, the equal most of all-time along with Sheryl Swoopes. Jackson played in four Olympic Games with the Australian Opals winning three silver medals and one bronze medal, and also played a critical role in the Opals winning a gold medal at the 2006 World Championships. Jackson played on three WNBA championship winning teams, five WNBL championship winning teams and was named the WNBA MVP three times, the equal most of all-time along with Sheryl Swoopes. Jackson retired from basketball on 31 March 2016 and two months later was appointed Commercial Operations Manager of the Melbourne Boomers. Jackson is also playing a key role as a commentator in Fox Sports coverage of the 2017/18 WNBL season in the league’s return to TV screens. Amelia drew inspiration from seeing what Jackson achieved throughout her basketball career and when Amelia was asked in the Round 5 2015/16 edition of ‘Spotlight’ the WNBL’s Official Game Program ‘Do you have a role model or someone who inspired you to pursue basketball?’ Amelia responded “Coming from Albury Lauren Jackson was growing as a superstar when I was a teenager so I guess that inspired me and made me strive to succeed in basketball. Also my sisters, as I always wanted to do everything they did but wanted to do it better (call me a little competitive!)”2
After impressive performances as a point guard for her junior club Albury, Amelia was selected to play representative basketball for New South Wales. As a junior Amelia played for the New South Wales state team at the National Championships in the under 16’s, under 18’s and under 20’s, with the under 18’s team winning the National Championship. In 2005 and 2006 Amelia attended Box Hill Secondary College which has a renowned basketball program that begun in 1995. Box Hill is located in the Eastern suburbs of Melbourne. Amelia was named in the 2006 Victorian State Schools Team.
The Albury-Wodonga Lady Bandits joined the SEABL in 2006 and Todhunter was a member of the inaugural team. One of her team-mates for the Bandits inaugural game was her idol Lauren Jackson who scored 45 points in the Bandits one point win against Nunawading. Todhunter played 20 of a possible 24 games for the Albury-Wodonga Lady Bandits during the 2006 SEABL season, averaging 5.6 points, 3.7 rebounds and 2.0 assists for the Bandits in 2006.
WNBL career from debut to 2014-15 season
Todhunter made her WNBL debut at 19 years of age for the Jayco Rangers on 19 October 2007 at Dandenong Stadium in an 85-61 victory against Christchurch. Amelia’s Rangers team-mates in her debut game included current Rangers head coach Larissa Anderson, Emily McInerney, Michelle Brogan, Caitlyn Ryan, Rachel Flanagan (nee McCully), Alison Downie, Clare Papavs, Faith Probst and Liz Cambage who at just 16 years of age was also in her debut WNBL season. During 2007/2008 playing little court-time in her 20 games for Dandenong Amelia averaged 1.1 points, 0.4 rebounds and 0.1 assists per game, with a strength being her three point shooting, making five shots from 13 attempts at 38%.
In 2008/09 continuing in her role has back-up point guard Todhunter played all 22 games for the Dandenong Rangers, averaging 2.9 points, 1.6 rebounds and 0.8 assists per game from 12.9 minutes court time per game. Amelia ranked fifth at Dandenong for steals behind Emily McInerney, Caitlin Ryan, Nicole Hunt and Jennifer Benningfield. Jayco Rangers team-mates in 2008/09 included several players that would later play alongside Todhunter in SEABL Championships for the Dandenong Rangers in Faith Probst, Alison Downie, Clare Papavs, Hope Terdich and Catherine Guest.
During 2009/10 lower leg injuries limited Todhunter to just three WNBL games for the Dandenong Rangers, averaging 3.7 points, 2.3 rebounds and 1.0 assists per game from 14.7 minutes court time. In Amelia’s first three seasons at the club Dandenong finished fourth in 2007/08, losing the Preliminary Final to Adelaide by 10 points, finished seventh in 2008/09 and eighth in 2009/10.
Todhunter joined the Bulleen Boomers for the 2010/11 WNBL season, a club that had not won a WNBL Championship but had come extremely close to breaking the drought, losing the Grand Final in both 2008/09 and 2009/10 to Canberra, by three points and five points respectively and in 2010/11 had retained their core group from the previous season of Jenna O’Hea, Liz Cambage, Rachel Jarry, Elyse Penaluna, Hanna Zavecs, Sharin Milner, Kylie Reid and Desiree Glaubitz.
Bullen finished the 2010/11 regular season on top of the WNBL ladder with a record of 19 wins, three losses and a percentage of 129, one win ahead of Canberra and four wins ahead of third placed Bendigo. It was the second season in a row that Bulleen had won the minor premiership and third consecutive season finishing in the top two. Whilst Bulleen had retained their core group from the previous season there had been some major changes for Canberra as Lauren Jackson did not play in the WNBL in 2010/11 and Bishop left Canberra to join the Dandenong Rangers. Australian Opals star Suzy Batkovic joined Canberra for the 2010/11 but battled injuries throughout the season and missed 10 regular season games and also missed the semi-final with an elbow infection. In another close final between the two clubs Bulleen defeated Canberra by four points in the semi final, 71 to 67. The two clubs met in the Grand Final for the third year in a row and the second season in succession at the State Netball and Hockey Centre (also known as the Cage) in Melbourne. Centre, Suzy Batkovic returned to Canberra’s line-up for the Grand Final. In the Grand Final on 13 March 2011 after the scores were tied at seven points apiece Bulleen went on a 32-10 run and never looked back to win by 25 points, 103 to 78 to claim the club’s first WNBL championship. Highlighting the Boomers offensive prowess in the Grand Final, it was the first time for the season that Canberra had conceded more than 100 points.
During 2010/11 Todhunter played 20 WNBL games including both finals as back-up point guard for the Bulleen Boomers, averaging 2.7 points, 1.4 rebounds and 1.4 assists per game from 12.7 minutes court time. At the time of playing in Bulleen’s championship winning side Amelia was 23 years old and had played 57 WNBL games. At 19 years of age Boomers centre Liz Cambage won the 2011 WNBL MVP and was selected in the WNBL All-Star five.
Bulleen had retained a remarkably stable roster for three straights seasons from 2008/09 to 2010/11, however there were several changes for the 2011/12 season due to retirement, injury and players changing clubs, with only two of the starters from 2010/11 returning in 2011/12, Cambage and Jarry. Penaluna missed the entire season due to a knee reconstruction, Zavecs left to play in Europe and O’Hea joined cross-town rivals the Dandenong Rangers.
Despite the change in personnel and several players spending prolonged periods on the sidelines injured Bulleen maintained their status as one of the strongest teams in the WNBL. The three additions to the starting line-up for Bulleen in 2011/12 were point guard Sam Richards who is currently an assistant coach of the Jayco Rangers in the WNBL, shooting guard Joannah Leedham who was a Great Britain import and forward Alice Kunek who had played limited minutes for the Boomers off the bench the previous season.
The point guard’s at Bulleen were the hardest hit by injury and in early February all three point guards – starter Sam Richards and back-ups Todhunter and Kerryn Harrington were on the sidelines injured. It was unfortunate timing for Amelia as if she hadn’t been injured she would have had the opportunity to play significant court-time. For the second season out of three Todhunter played less than half the games in the season, in 2011/12 it was due to a knee injury, whereas in 2009/10 she was restricted by lower leg injuries.
Although Bulleen lost two of their last three games of the 2011/12 season they finished second on the ladder with a record of 15 wins and seven losses, three games behind the minor premiers Adelaide and one game ahead of Dandenong. Todhunter recovered from her knee injury to play in the finals and a full strength Bulleen travelled to Adelaide for their semi final clash. Bulleen won a thrilling contest 73 points to 70 against an Adelaide front court that featured that season’s WNBL MVP Suzy Batkovic as well as future WNBL MVP Abby Bishop.
In the preliminary final Dandenong outscored Adelaide by 26 points from the one minute mark of the third quarter until the end of the game, turning a 13 point deficit into a 13 point victory to set up the first all-Victorian WNBL Grand Final since 1987.
Bulleen defeated Dandenong in all three encounters during the 2011/12 regular season and had a long winning streak over their cross-town rivals, however Dandenong reached the Grand Final in better form, having won eight games in a row. The Bulleen Boomers had a great start to the Grand Final to lead 11 points to four, three and a half minutes into the opening quarter, however the Dandenong Rangers dominated the next 10 minutes of play to gain the ascendancy, going on a 30 points to six run to lead by 17 points, 34 to 17 with six and a half minutes left in the first half. Whilst Bulleen reduced the lead to a low single figure margin for several minutes early in the third quarter Dandenong recorded a comfortable victory by 24 points, 94 points to 70. During 2011/12 Todhunter played 11 WNBL games for the Bulleen Boomers, averaging 2.5 points, 1.6 rebounds and 0.5 assists per game from 8 minutes and 30 seconds court time per game.
After two seasons at Bulleen Todhunter left to join the West Coast Waves for the 2012/13 season, a key reason for the move was the opportunity to play increased game-time. In 2012/13 Todhunter played all 24 WNBL games for the West Coast Waves, averaging 4.9 points, 3.5 rebounds and 2.6 assists per game from 24.7 minutes court time. Todhunter set WNBL career highs for points scored, rebounds, assists, steals and minutes played. Todhunter played her 100th WNBL games at 24 years of age late in the season and led West Coast with 62 assists, four ahead of Antonia Edmondson, ranked equal first for steals with Lisa Walbutton, fourth for rebounds, and seventh for points scored. In 2012/13 Todhunter ranked 16th in the WNBL for total assists and equal 20th for steals. Todhunter was very accurate from the free throw line making 23 of her 26 shots, equating to 88.5%. West Coast finished last on the WNBL ladder out of eight teams with four wins and 20 losses.
Todhunter re-joined the Boomers for the 2013/14 season, however the club had changed their name from Bulleen to Melbourne. Throughout the season Todhunter mainly played as a back-up point guard however in a start for the Boomers in December 2013 replacing Amber Hegge in the starting line-up Todhunter scored 11 points against Dandenong in Round 9. In Round 10 Todhunter started for the Melbourne Boomers against reigning champions, the Bendigo Spirit, playing a pivotal role in the Boomers getting back into the game after trailing by 15 points early in the last quarter, however the Spirit held onto win by five points, Todhunter scored a team-high 14 points and also took four rebounds.
Melbourne were undermanned with Rachel Jarry playing just three games for the season due to a knee injury and starting centre Chelsea Poppens required a knee reconstruction after rupturing her anterior cruciate ligament in late January 2014. Despite the injury set-backs Melbourne finished fourth on the ladder at the end of the regular season with a record of 14 wins and 10 losses, two games behind Dandenong and Townsville who finished second and third respectively, and seven games behind minor champions of the Bendigo Spirit. In an away semi final Melbourne pushed Townsville all the way before being defeated by five points, 78 to 73.
During 2013/14 Todhunter played all 25 WNBL games for the Melbourne Boomers, averaging 5.3 points, 2.9 rebounds and 1.4 assists per game from 21.6 minutes court time. Todhunter set WNBL career highs for points scored and steals. Todhunter ranked equal third at Melbourne along with Chealsea Poppens with 26 steals to rank equal 10th in the WNBL. The ability to steal the ball was one of the Boomers strengths, Amelia’s team-mates Rebecca Allen and Rebecca Cole ranked first and eighth in the league respectively.
During 2014/15 with the Melbourne Boomers Amelia’s court-time was significantly lower than the previous two seasons. Against Adelaide on 10 January 2015 Todhunter played her best game of the season, scoring six points, making every shot she attempted, two field goals and two free throws and had a season-high seven assists in 17 minutes, 42 seconds court-time during the Boomers 30 point win, 96-66. Two games later on 24 January Todhunter played just three minutes and 49 seconds against the Canberra Capitals, in two of the remaining four games of the season Amelia played less than six minutes.
Melbourne finished sixth on the ladder with 11 wins and 11 losses, equal with Sydney Uni and the University of Canberra Capitals, and narrowly missed out on the finals with the ladder positions of these teams being determined on the head to head record in the matches between the three teams, Sydney finished fourth and Canberra finished fifth. Todhunter’s court-time was significantly down on her previous two WNBL seasons when she averaged more than 20 minutes per game. Todhunter played more than 20 minutes only once in 2014/15, playing 20 minutes and 18 seconds against Townsville on 15 November and scored a season-high eight points, Amelia also had three rebounds, two assists and one block in this game. In 18 games Amelia had between 10 and 20 minutes –game-time, she played less than 10 minutes four times, including three of the last five games of the season. During 2014/15 Todhunter played all 22 WNBL games for the Melbourne Boomers, averaging 2.9 points, 1.4 rebounds and 1.2 assists per game from 12.0 minutes court time.
2015/16 WNBL Season with the Jayco Rangers
During the 2015 SEABL finals series it was announced that Amelia Todhunter had signed to play in the WNBL for the 2015/16 season with the Jayco Dandenong Rangers. Todhunter was one of the last players signed to the Rangers roster for the 2015/16 WNBL season with the signing of her SEABL team-mate Jacinta Kennedy announced at the same time as Todhunter. Another SEABL team-mate Alison Downie was the last player signed for the Rangers 2015/16 WNBL season, only being signed days before the start of the season. The trio added much needed experience to the young Dandenong line-up.
On 26 March 2015 Larissa Anderson was named as the Dandenong Rangers WNBL head coach for the 2015/16 season, replacing Mark Wright who had held the role for the previous five years and for nine years in total – having also coached the Rangers from 1998/99 to 2001/02. Larissa became the first woman to coach the Dandenong Rangers in the WNBL, and shortly after her appointment she stated an intention to recruit players that had represented the Dandenong Rangers previously. The club’s two biggest signings in the off-season – Steph Blicavs and Sara Blicavs both fitted this bill, Sara played one season for Dandenong in 2012/13 whilst Steph had played five WNBL seasons for Dandenong, won a club MVP award for the Rangers in 2009/10 and was a starter in the club’s most recent WNBL Championship, 2011/12. Three other current Rangers from that Championship winning-team were on the Rangers 2015/16 roster – Alison Downie, Tegan Cunningham and Aimie Clydesdale.
By the time the 2015/16 WNBL season started about half of Dandenong’s roster had played for the club’s SEABL side in 2015, Todhunter, Jacinta Kennedy, Alison Downie, Aimie Clydesdale, Tenaya Phillips and Chloe Bibby. Anderson had coached some other players on the Rangers 2015/16 WNBL roster in previous SEABL seasons at Dandenong including Lauren Scherf and Steph Blicavs who was named one of the club’s two co-captains along with Clydesdale. Of the 15 player roster including development players only two hadn’t played for the Rangers in the WNBL before, centre Alex Bunton who had 87 games WNBL experience and turned 22 years old days after the season started, and 17 year-old development player Najvada George. Although Dandenong had made the WNBL finals in all five seasons from 2010/11 to 2014/15 the external expectations on the eve of the season were considerably lower with very few experts tipping the Jayco Rangers to make the finals in 2015/16.
Todhunter started the first game of the 2015/16 WNBL season on the bench, but after starting point guard Aimie Clydesdale was injured in the opening game of the season against Canberra Todhunter moved into the starting line-up for the second game of the season against the South East Queensland (SEQ) Stars. Clydesdale required a minor operation to repair meniscus damage in her knee and ended up playing less than 15 minutes court-time in total during the first two months of the season. Upon her return to the line-up Clydesdale played as back-up point guard and Todhunter continued as the starting point guard.
The five seasons playing in the SEABL for the Dandenong Rangers under head coach Larissa Anderson proved invaluable for Amelia in Larissa’s first season as coach of the Dandenong Rangers in the WNBL as Larissa knew Todhunter’s game intimately and was confident in Amelia’s ability to perform a role for the Rangers. Speaking to Roy Ward from ‘Fairfax Media’ Amelia commented “With the bond I’ve built with (coach) Larissa Anderson over the years, I know she has all the confidence in the world in me and that’s something I’ve missed out on over the years with different coaches.”3
In the Rangers 32 point win against Bendigo in Round 3 Todhunter scored eight points and took five rebounds. After the win Dandenong were on top of the ladder with three wins and no losses, they were the only undefeated side in the WNBL.
Against her former club Melbourne Boomers in Round 5 at Dandenong Stadium Todhunter performed a critical role in the Rangers six point win against their cross-town rivals, scoring 11 points, having four rebounds, and played tight defense. Toddhunter shot the ball well to make three of five field goal attempts, made four of four from the free throw line and her only three pointer. Although there was some concern early in the week on how well Todhunter would recover from a heavy knock against Townsville the previous week she showed no ill-effects against Melbourne and played 29 minutes, 43 seconds, the most time she had played in a WNBL game since late in the 2013-14 season. In the final five minutes of play Todhunter was involved in some big plays, making a steal with 4 minutes 51 seconds remaining and the Rangers trailing by a point 62 to 63, she then made two of two free throws with four minute and seven seconds remaining to put the Rangers up by a point 64-63. Amelia, the smallest player on the court got on offensive rebound with one minute 47 seconds remaining and the score tied at 69 points apiece. From that point on Dandenong outscored Melbourne six points to nil to secure a close victory.
On November 28 against Sydney in Round 8 at Dandenong Basketball Stadium Todhunter had a game-high seven assists, a team-high seven rebounds and scored eight points in 25 minutes court-time in the Jayco Dandenong Rangers 20 point win over the Sydney Uni Flames who had entered the round as equal ladder leaders. The Rangers teamwork was superb throughout the night amassing 23 assists, an astounding 18 more than Sydney Uni Flames. At the Round 8 post-game press conference Rangers head coach Larissa Anderson commented on Amelia “I am so proud of Mealz (Todhunter), the effort defensively comes every single week. I think she’s a very undervalued defender and she has embraced the role and whoever she has had to defend every week and done a fantastic job.”
Amelia was interviewed on Sunday Sportscentral by Brett Phillips for radio station SEN 1116 on November 29, 2015, when Brett asked “What’s the feeling of the girls with how you sit amongst the top five teams at the moment, is there not much in it, is there a little gulf for some areas that you really need to improve, how are you assessing the early part of the season?” Amelia responded, “It’s a bit of both, I think our team definitely has the ability to go all the way and win the championship, but at the moment we are still getting used to playing with each other, we didn’t really have a big pre-season due to SEABL and commitments to other teams. I think by the end of the season we should really be there, especially our win last night just proved to us girls what we can achieve if we play as a team, and make that extra pass and really use defense as our major focus.”
Dandenong played the Perth Lynx on Friday December 4 in a Round 9 game at Dandenong Basketball Stadium and for the second week in a row defeated a team that was equal top on the WNBL ladder. In a low scoring game Dandenong defeated Perth by two points, 65 to 63 after Perth Lynx guard Sami Whitcomb’s three point shot in the dying moments hit the front of the rim and missed. Todhunter scored four points, including a lay-up with 70 seconds remaining after getting a steal, had a team-high three assists and an equal game-high eight rebounds.
After making her WNBL debut at 19 years of age in 2006/2007 for the Dandenong Rangers Todhunter played her 150th WNBL game on Sunday 6 December 2015 for Dandenong against Adelaide Lightning at Adelaide Arena, becoming the third player on the Rangers 2015/16 roster to reach this milestone, joining forward Alison Downie (315 games) and shooting guard Steph Blicavs (214 games).
In the week leading up to her 150th WNBL game Amelia commented “I love being back – Dandenong has always been my home, I started there when I was 18 and love being back and having Riss as a coach. The group of girls is just awesome – we get along really well and it’s like home to me – just love it.”4
For most of the game Dandenong were on track to secure victory in Amelia’s milestone game, leading by 17 points early in the third quarter, however Adelaide dominated the final quarter to outscore the Rangers 19 points to eight to record an upset two point win, 72 points to 70 after Adelaide guard Leilani Mitchell’s left handed shot from the edge of the key on the left hand side rolled around the rim and then went in as time expired. Todhunter scored nine points and had two steals which were both in the final minute and a half and started plays that the Rangers scored in.
In the Round 14 Australia day eve match against the Melbourne Boomers Todhunter scored six points, had eight rebounds – ranked second for the game, made an equal game-high two steals and had a game-high six assists, playing 38 minutes and 28 seconds court-time in the Rangers five point victory.
The Dandenong Rangers finished third on the WNBL ladder with a record of 15 wins and nine losses, two wins behind minor premiers, Townsville Fire and one win behind the second placed Perth Lynx. The fourth placed SEQ Stars also finished with 15 wins and nine losses but lost the tie-breaker due to Dandenong having the better head to head record, winning two of the three games between the clubs during the regular season.
A key reason in Dandenong making the WNBL finals was their remarkable record in close games, of their 14 games decided by eight points or less during the 2015/16 regular season they won 12 and lost only two. Dandenong’s depth was extremely important throughout the 2015/16 season given that due to injury they frequently had one or more of their core players missing. The Dandenong Rangers had the equal-best home record in the WNBL during the regular season with the Perth Lynx, having a record of nine wins and three losses. With their entertaining brand of basketball and their superb record of winning close games at home the Rangers provided tremendous value for money for their members in 2015/16. Dandenong had six wins and six losses on the road, the equal fourth best record in the WNBL, three games behind the best road team, the eventual 2015/16 WNBL Champions the Townsville Fire.
Dandenong hosted SEQ in the minor semi final and held the ascendancy for most of the game, leading by 15 points late in the second quarter, however SEQ overran Dandenong to win by four points. The Jayco Dandenong Rangers broke a club record in making the WNBL finals for a sixth consecutive season in 2015/16, surpassing the five consecutive finals appearances that the club made from 2003/04 to 2007/08.
During 2015/16 Todhunter played all 25 games for the Jayco Rangers, averaging 5.1 points, 3.2 rebounds, 2.1 assists and 1.0 steals per game. Todhunter ranked 21st in the WNBL for steals per game and won the Rangers Defensive Player of the Year award.
In the Round 5 2015/16 edition of the WNBL’s Official game program when asked “What advice would you give to young up & coming basketballers?” Amelia responded “Don’t let anyone tell you, you can’t do anything! I was told as a junior basketballer I would never get anywhere in basketball. This has been my motivation to succeed.”5
2016/17 WNBL Season with the Jayco Rangers
Six of the seven Dandenong players that played at least 300 minutes court-time in 2015/16 returned for the 2016/17 season with the exception being import Annalise Pickrel who played in Russia. None of the four Rangers that played between 50 and 295 minutes in 2015/16 returned to the club for the 2016/17 season with Tenaya Phillips and Tegan Cunningham joining rival WNBL clubs Perth Lynx and Melbourne Boomers respectively. Alex Bunton played in Russia, whilst Jayco Rangers veteran Alison Downie who has the distinction of being the only member of all three of Dandenong Rangers WNBL championship winning teams focussed on Australian Rules Football, having been drafted by the Carlton Football Club with selection 129 in the inaugural AFL Women’s draft on 12 October 2016, Downie was one of the best ruck’s in the AFL Women’s league, being named in the initial 40 player All-Australian squad at the end of the season.
Dandenong recruited three new players for the 2016/17 season, American imports Natalie Novosel and Ally Malott and Victorian Rosie Fadljevic. Two members of the trio had played for the Jayco Rangers in the WNBL previously with shooting guard Novosel playing all 26 games for Dandenong in the WNBL during the 2013/14 season, whilst forward Fadljevic was a development player at Dandenong in 2012/13. Both players have played in WNBL championships with the Townsville Fire with Fadljevic playing in the 2014/15 title alongside 2016/17 Rangers teammate Steph Blicavs, whilst Novosel played in the 2015/16 championship.
In most games during the 2016/17 season Todhunter played as the Rangers back-up point guard with Clydesdale having the role as starting point guard. On occasions Todhunter was inserted into the starting line-up to perform a defensive role on a specific opponent. In the second game of their Round 10 road-double the top of the table Jayco Rangers played the Perth Lynx who were second on the ladder in a game broadcast in Western Australian on Channel 7, making it the first time that a WNBL game had been shown live on commercial television in Australia. Todhunter started against the Perth Lynx and performed the role of defending the league’s leading scorer Sami Whitcomb brilliantly, restricting her to eight points which was around 40% of her usual output. Dandenong played phenomenal team basketball to defeat Perth by 21 points 92-71, having 21 assists and making 11 of their 17 three-pointers for an amazing accuracy of 65%.
Dandenong’s brilliant pre-Christmas form together with some favourable results in non-Rangers matches late in the season resulted in the Rangers finishing second on the ladder, earning them home-court advantage for the best of three semi final series against Perth. The Jayco Rangers and Perth Lynx both finished the regular season with a record of 15 wins and nine losses, however the Rangers won the tie-break due to winning the season series between the two clubs 3-1. The Sydney Uni Flames won the minor premiership three games ahead of their nearest rivals, recording 18 wins and six losses. The Townsville Fire who had won the previous two WNBL Championships in 2014/15 and 2015/16 completed the top four with a record of 14 wins and 10 losses, whilst Bendigo and Canberra both missed out on a finals position, each recording 13 wins and 11 losses.
The Dandenong Rangers recorded eight wins and four losses at home, the equal second best record along with Sydney, Townsville and Canberra, behind Perth with nine wins and three losses. The Jayco Rangers had seven wins and five losses on the road, giving them the outright second best record on the road behind Sydney who recorded 10 wins and two losses.
Todhunter started four games during the 2016/17 regular season, however was given the role as a starter in the semi-final series against Perth to defend Sami Whitcomb. The Jayco Rangers dominated the first half of game 1 of their semi final series against Perth at Dandenong Stadium to lead 45-23 at half-time led by Ranges co-captain Steph Blicavs with 21 first half points. Perth closed the gap in the second half but had too much ground to make up being defeated 73-66. Game 2 at the Bendat Basketball centre was close for three quarters with Perth leading by two points at the final break before they dominated the final quarter 28-10 to win 91-71 led by Sami Whitcomb with 41 points.
Amelia was upset with herself after the game two loss to Perth and Whitcomb’s scoring spree but after some talks with the Rangers coaching staff some adjustments were made for Amelia’s game 3 assignment on Whitcomb, however the Rangers knew it would take a team effort to slow Whitcomb down and defeat Perth. The adjustments worked and Whitcomb was kept scoreless until she made two free-throws with two seconds remaining in the first half. In game three of the semi final series the Rangers led by 20 points in the second quarter before Perth reduced the gap to six points at three quarter time. Todhunter made a three-pointer with five minutes and 25 seconds remaining to increase the Rangers lead to nine points. The Jayco Rangers dominated the remainder of the game 14-5 to win 81 points to 63. When the stakes were at their highest the Dandenong defence was exceptional, restricting Perth to just nine points in the final quarter. In game three against Perth Todhunter scored seven points, had a game-high three steals and had seven rebounds including five offensive, to account for 23% of the 22 offensive rebounds in the game by the two teams combined.
By winning their semi final series against Perth the Jayco Rangers progressed to their sixth WNBL Grand Final just months after celebrating their 25th Anniversary of joining the WNBL. The Rangers made the WNBL grand final in their 1992 debut season, however only made the finals twice more in their next eight seasons up to and including 1999/2000. Jayco commenced as the naming sponsor of the Dandenong Rangers in 2000/01 and it is no coincidence that whilst this partnership has been in existence the Rangers have been able to evolve into one of the benchmark teams in the WNBL. During 17 seasons from 2000/01 the Rangers have made the finals 14 times, a phenomenal strike rate of 82.4%. The Rangers made three consecutive Grand Finals from 2003/04 to 2005/06, winning the championship in the first two Grand Finals during this sequence both against the Sydney Uni Flames at Dandenong Basketball Stadium, 63-53 in 2003/04 and 52-47 in 2004/05, before being defeated by Canberra 68 points to 55 in the 2005/06 Grand Final. Two thirds of the way through the 2011/12 season the Rangers looked to a be middle of the road team personified with a record of eight wins and eight losses, however from that point on they were an unstoppable force winning nine consecutive games to win the club’s third WNBL Championship.
Whilst Sydney and Dandenong both had outstanding depth the Grand Final will featured four players that finished in the top seven of the WNBL 2016/17 MVP Award, comprised of two Sydney players – point guard Leilani Mitchell and forward Asia Taylor and two Dandenong players – forward Sara Blicavs and shooting guard Steph Blicavs. As well as featuring some of the best offensive players in the WNBL the Grand Final also featured some of the league’s best defenders with Mitchell and Todhunter both finishing in the top four of the WNBL 2016/17 WNBL Defensive Player of the Year award and Steph Blicavs having won this award in 2015/16. At the end of the 2016/17 season the WNBL coaches and captain’s voted on the WNBL Defensive Player of the Year Award, Canberra Capitals Centre Mariana Tolo won the award with the other finalists being Todhunter, Mitchell and Townsville guard Natasha Cloud.
In the 2016/17 WNBL Grand Final against the Sydney Uni Flames Todhunter started alongside Aimie Clydesdale, Steph Blicavs, Sara Blicavs and American import Ally Malott. Sydney’s starting line-up was Mitchell, Alex Wilson, three-time Olympian with the Australian Opals Belinda Snell, and two American imports – Taylor and 200 centimetre tall centre Jennifer Hamson. Very little separated the two teams during the first three quarters of Game 1 at Brydens Stadium in Sydney on Saturday, 11 March with the Flames leading 69-68 at three quarter time. The scores were locked together at 74 apiece with four minutes and 56 seconds remaining and Sydney led by only two point points with two and a half minutes remaining but were able to control the dying minutes and defeat the Rangers by nine points 91-82. Todhunter played 33 minutes and 28 seconds in game 1 of the Grand Final, scoring four points, taking four rebounds, had an equal game-high six assists and made two steals. Whilst the Rangers shot the ball at a very respectable 48% from the field, making 35 of their 72 field goal attempts they were unable to contain the Flames on the defensive end with Sydney making 37 of their 62 field goal attempts for an accuracy of 59%.
In game 2 of the Grand Final Series on Friday 17 March at Dandenong Stadium the Rangers made a change to their starting line-up with veteran Jacinta Kennedy replacing Malott. Sydney went with an unchanged starting line-up. The Jayco Rangers had a great start to lead 22-11 with a minute and 45 seconds left in the first quarter, however Sydney closed the gap to six points by the end of the quarter and the Rangers trailed by a point 37-38 at half-time. Sydney dominated the third quarter 20 points to 11 to lead 58-48 at three quarter-time with Belinda Snell playing an influential role in Sydney gaining the momentum by scoring 13 points in the third quarter including three three-pointers. Steph Blicavs made a two point jump shot in the first 15 seconds of the final quarter to reduce the margin to eight points, however that was as close as the Rangers got with Sydney winning by 13 points 75-62.
In 2016/17 Todhunter played all 28 games for the Jayco Rangers, averaging 4.9 points, a career-high 3.9 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 1.6 steals per game. Todhunter ranked fifth in the WNBL for steals per game due to her deperation, quick hands and reading of the play, of the players ranked in the top 10 she played the least court-time per game with an average of 23 minutes and 23 seconds court-time. After bigger opponents get a rebound and bring the ball closer to their body preparing to pass or dribble Todhunter is adept at getting a steals or forcing a jump ball. With her 46 steals for the 2016/17 season Todhunter easily set a new personal best for steals in a season, surpassing the 26 she had with the Melbourne Boomers in 2013/14, one of three previous seasons with more than 20 steals along with 2015/16 playing for the Jayco Rangers (24) and 2012/13 playing for the West Coast Waves (22). Todhunter won the Rangers Defensive Player of the Year Award for the second year in a row. Steph Blicavs and Sara Blicavs were joint winners of the Jayco Rangers MVP Award, it was the first time Sara had won the award and the third time Steph had won the award – having previously won the MVP in 2009/10 and 2015/16.
SEABL career with Dandenong from 2009 to 2017
After four seasons out of the SEABL the Dandenong Rangers re-joined the SEABL competition in 2009. In the previous season Todhunter played in the Big V league for the Dandenong Rangers in 2008 and was one of the five nominees for Youth Player of the Year.
Todhunter played 19 games for Dandenong Rangers in the SEABL during 2009, averaging 10.4 points, 4.8 rebounds and 2.8 assists per game. Under head-coach Wayne Pollock the Rangers made the finals in their first season back in the SEABL but were defeated in a semi final.
Larissa Anderson was the playing head-coach of the Dandenong Rangers SEABL team in 2010. Anderson also had some other previous coaching experience in the SEABL, including winning the Coach of the Year Award in 2004 as coach of the Nunawading Spectres. Anderson played 275 WNBL games between 1995 and 2008, starting and finishing her career with the Dandenong Rangers but spending most of her WNBL career playing for the Bulleen Boomers including three seasons as captain from 2002 to 2004. Larissa had been a team-mate of Amelia’s in the WNBL with Amelia’s debut season with the Rangers in 2007/08 being Larissa’s last season playing in the WNBL.
Dandenong lost their opening two games of the 2010 season and then went on a 15 game winning streak to end the season with a league best record of 17 wins and five losses. The Rangers won all of their finals, winning the 2010 SEABL Championship against the Launceston Tornadoes 85-70 to win the club’s fourth SEABL Championship, following 1990, 1991, and 2001. In the 2010 Championship Final Todhunter scored 10 points. Todhunter played 24 games for the Dandenong Rangers in 2010, averaging 12.0 points, 4.7 rebounds and 3.2 assists per game.
After the 2010 season Larissa Anderson retired as a SEABL player and focused purely on her role as head-coach. In 2011 Dandenong finished second on the ladder, in the semi final against Knox who had finished the season on top of the ladder the Rangers trailed by five points with less than two minutes remaining before scoring the last eight points of the game to get a thrilling three point victory.
Knox progressed to the 2011 SEABL Grand Final to face Dandenong again. The Rangers led by a point 47 to 46 at three quarter-time, however with five minutes and 43 seconds remaining and the Rangers leading by two points their centre Elyse Penaluna seriously injured her right knee which forced her off the court for not just the remainder of that game but the entire 2011/2012 WNBL season with the Bulleen Boomers as well.
Dandenong again finished the final quarter strongly, going on a 9-3 run in the remaining time to win the Grand Final by eight points. Todhunter played 24 games for the Rangers in 2011, averaging 11.1 points, 4.0 rebounds and 3.3 assists per game.
Going back to back as SEABL Champions for the Dandenong Rangers had an additional element of emotion as on the morning of the Rangers semi final against Knox the Dandenong Rangers President Charles Ryan passed away. The Dandenong Rangers dedicated their 2011 finals campaign and eventual championship to Ryan.
Like in 2010 Dandenong started 2012 slowly, losing their opening two games of the season but then rebounded strongly to win 17 of their next 19 games. Despite losing two of their final five games the Rangers finished on top of the ladder in the East Conference, 2012 was the first season that the Women’s SEABL competition had split into two conferences, South and East. In the Championship Grand Final Dandenong played Knox for the second year in a row, a club that had defeated Dandenong twice early in the season. In the Championship Grand Final scores were level 26 points apiece at half-time, however a dominant second-half performance resulted in Dandenong recording a comfortable victory 65 to 48.
Todhunter played a critical role for the Dandenong Rangers early in their 2012 Grand Final at the State Basketball Centre against Knox, scoring eight points in the first term when some of her team-mates were unable to find their normal rhythm. Todhunter commented “I knew we had to get off to a good start. We all knew that and I think early on I just got some open shots and knocked them down.” Todhunter went onto say “For the six or seven of us who have played in all three championships it’s been so special. I hope we can all get back together again next year but who knows what will happen.”6
Todhunter played 28 games in 2012, averaging 11.6 points, 4.8 rebounds and 2.6 assists per game. Over the three SEABL seasons from 2010 to 2012 Dandenong had a combined record of 65 wins and 14 losses, including 7-0 in finals for a winning percentage of 82.3%. The Dandenong Rangers became the first team in SEABL history to win three consecutive championships.
In an interview in March 2013 with SEABL TV when asked about the main reason for winning the three consecutive SEABL championships Amelia responded “On the court we played awesome together but I think that was caused by what happened off the court, every day that we would have off basketball we would always see each other anyway, either dinner or just hanging out, so I think the chemistry was definitely number one.”
After three straight championships with Dandenong head-coach Larissa Anderson stepped away from the role in 2013 due to having her second child, Cooper. Paul Flynn took-over as the Rangers head coach.
Todhunter had the best SEABL season of her career in 2013, setting new career-highs for points, rebounds and assists per game. Amelia played 28 games for the Dandenong Rangers in 2013, averaging 16.4 points, 6.4 rebounds and 4.1 assists per game. Amelia was rewarded for her brilliant season with selection in the 2013 ALL-SEABL team, being the only Dandenong Rangers player selected in the team, however her team-mate and fellow Rangers co-captain Faith Probst received another award, the Defensive Player of the year. Dandenong were defeated in a preliminary final.
Larissa Anderson returned as head-coach in 2014 and Dandenong finished the season with a league-best record of 21 wins and three losses and were unbeaten at home. The Rangers were clearly the best side in the SEABL during the 2014 Regular season with the next best side having a record of 17 wins and seven losses, however Dandenong were unable to continue this dominance in the finals, losing two home games in a row and didn’t reach the East Conference Final. The second loss was to the Geelong Lady Supercats, 87-96 in the Preliminary Final. In the loss Todhunter scored a season-high 28 points, including five three pointers from 11 attempts, and also had four assists.
Todhunter was selected in the 2014 ALL-SEABL team, being joined by fellow Ranger Lauren Scherf in the 10 player team. Amelia played 24 games for the Rangers during 2014, averaging 14.1 points, 5.2 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game.
The Dandenong Rangers finished the 2015 regular season with a league best record of 19 wins and three losses to finish on top of the East Conference, six games ahead of the Geelong Supercats. Due to a knee injury Todhunter missed just under three months of basketball, suffering the injury on 26 April against Nunawading and returning on 25 July against Geelong. A week and a half after returning from her knee injury Todhunter broke her finger, however she was able to play through that injury.
Dandenong defeated Geelong twice in the East Finals, by 10 points in the semi final and 20 points in the conference final to progress to the SEABL Championship, playing the Kilsyth Cobras at Dandenong Basketball Stadium. After trailing Kilsyth by a point 30 to 31 with just over a minute remaining in the first half, Dandenong had a dominant five minutes, finishing the first half strongly and maintained their momentum early in the third quarter to go on a 14 points to two run to lead by 11 points, 44 to 33 with six minutes remaining in the third quarter. The Dandenong Rangers won the game by 13 points, 76 to 63 to claim their fourth SEABL title in six years and the club’s seventh SEABL championship overall.
In the SEABL 2015 Grand Final Todhunter had 19 points, 10 rebounds and five assists, highlighting how complete Amelia’s all-round game was during the Grand Final she had outright game-highs for points and rebounds and had the equal game-high for assists along with Kilsyth’s Steph Blicavs. In 37 minutes and 38 seconds game-time Amelia was accurate with her shooting, making eight of her 15 field goal attempts (53.3%).
After the 2015 SEABL Championship win Larissa Anderson was glowing in her praise of Todhunter, especially after missing half the season with a knee injury, commenting “She (Amelia) certainly comes for the big games, she’s only tiny but she has such a huge heart. She never, ever stops, she’s so professional and determined and to come back from missing 15 weeks with what was a pretty nasty knee injury, is a real credit to her. They all step up for the big games and they showed that tonight, especially defensively.”7 At 169 centimetres tall Amelia is shorter than most of her team-mates and opposition players, however in both 2014 and 2015 she averaged over five rebounds per game in the SEABL.
Amelia’s game-time was carefully managed upon her return from the knee injury and after playing over 30 minutes in all three games before the injury she played over 30 minutes in a game only two more times for the season both finals, 31 minutes and 56 seconds in the semi final against Geelong followed by more than 37 minutes against Kilsyth in the Grand Final. Todhunter’s 2015 numbers were slightly down on her All-SEABL team form from the 2013 and 2014 seasons, however this was largely due to the reduced court-time after her return from injury. Amelia played 12 games for the Dandenong Rangers in 2015, averaging 12.3 points, 5.1 rebounds and 3.3 assists per game.
Jeremy Moule took over as Dandenong’s SEABL head coach for 2016 with Anderson fearing that being head coach of the Dandenong Rangers in the WNBL and SEABL as well as having family and other work commitments would be spreading herself too thin. Amelia regularly started games throughout the 2016 SEABL season on the bench and played less minutes than she had in previous seasons.
The Dandenong Rangers finished the 2016 SEABL season second on the ladder in the East Conference with a record of 14 wins and eight losses, the same record as the Conference’s top placed team – the Nunawading Spectres. Two teams in the South Conference had superior records to the top two teams from the East, with Kilsyth having 19 wins and two losses whilst Launceston had 18 wins and four losses.
In the East Conference Final at Dandenong Stadium the Rangers were well below their best for most of the game and trailed Nunawading 58-61 at three quarter time, but lifted in the final quarter to win the term 16-7 and the game 74-68.
Dandenong played Kilsyth in the 2016 SEABL Championship Final for the second consecutive year, with the 2016 decider played at the State Basketball Centre. Kilsyth were victorious in both regular season matches against the Rangers, by five points on the road in Round 3 and by six points at home in Round 18. Dandenong outplayed Kilsyth to lead 26-16 at quarter-time, whilst Kilsyth were able to reduce the lead to four points, the Rangers responded and ended up winning the game by 12 points, 78-66. Amelia played 13 games for the Dandenong Rangers in 2016, averaging 7.7 points, 3.2 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game
The Dandenong Rangers have won eight SEABL Championships- 1990, 1991, 2001, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2015 & 2016. Todhunter is one of only two players along with Clare Papavs to play in all five SEABL Championships between 2010 and 2016. Todhunter is the only Rangers player to have won two Barbara Barton Medal’s as the MVP in the SEABL Championship Final, the other players to have won this award during this time for Dandenong are Downie (2010), Papavs (2011) and Scherf (2016).
The Dandenong Rangers had their third SEABL head coach in three seasons in 2017, with Rangers WNBL assistant coach John White being appointed as SEABL head coach. The Dandenong Rangers finished on top of the South Conference in 2017 with a record of 15 wins and seven losses, one game ahead of the Bendigo Braves and three games ahead of Hobart and Launceston in third and fourth position respectively. Two of the Rangers starters in Aimie Clydedale and Lauren Scherf were competing in the World University games which meant that they weren’t available for the Rangers first two games of the SEABL finals. Dandenong were outplayed by Bendigo at Dandenong Stadium 59-74. Dandenong hosted the South Conference Preliminary Final against Launceston and led 67-62 at three quarter-time, however were over-run in the final term being defeated 83-78. Playing 38 minutes and 43 seconds in the preliminary final Todhunter scored 20 points, had nine rebounds, five assists and four steals to set team-highs in the first three categories and a game-high for steals. Amelia played 19 games for the Dandenong Rangers in 2017, averaging 12.5 points, 5.4 rebounds and 3.4 assists per game.
2017/18 WNBL Season with the Jayco Rangers
Todhunter was one of only three players from 2016/17 to return for the Jayco Rangers 2017/18 WNBL season along with Sara Blicavs and Steph Blicavs (nee Cumming) who married Sara’s brother Kris a week after the Rangers 2016/17 season ended. A few players from the Rangers 2016/17 roster joined rival WNBL teams for the 2017/18 season – Novosel and Clydesdale (both Adelaide) and Scherf (Canberra), whilst Jacinta Kennedy retired and Malott and Fadljevic aren’t playing in the WNBL.
Two of the Rangers front-court recruits have each played a season with the Jayco Rangers previously – Carley Mijovic in 2012/13 and import Kayla Pedersen in 2013/14. Three recruits with extensive WNBL experience in Mijovic, Tessa Lavey and Tayla Roberts were team-mates of Sara’s at the AIS, with the trio all likely to reach 150 WNBL games this season, Mijovic having already reached this milestone in the comeback two point home victory against Sydney in Round 4. The second import signed by the Rangers – Spanish guard Laia Palau was the captain of Spain’s silver medal winning team at the 2016 Rio Olympics, her third Olympic Games. Two teenagers signed by the Rangers for the 2017/18 season in Rebecca Pizzey and Kiera Rowe represented the Australian Gems at the Under 19 Women’s World Championship in Italy during July. Pizzey and Rowe were both members of the Australian Sapphires team that won the gold medal at the Under 17 Women’s World Championship in Spain last year. Three Rangers played for the Opals at the 2017 FIBA Asia Cup in July – Stephanie and Sara Blicavs along with Tessa Lavey. The Opals won a silver medal to qualify for the 2018 World Championships held in Spain from 22-30 September.
Amelia represented Australia at the 2017 FIBA 3 x 3 Women’s World Cup in France during June along with Rangers team-mate Carley Mijovic, Rebecca Cole and Nadeen Payne. Australia narrowly missed out on qualifying for the quarter finals. In an interview with Rangers TV about her 3 x 3 World Cup experience Amellia commented “It was a big shock when Jane Sterling (Basketball Australia General Manager High Performance and National Teams) rang me, I think I rang mum straight away obviously because mum and dad are my number one supporters, and they were very proud of me. It took a while though to sink in, but yeah it was really exciting. It was very, very different, very fast-paced, and very physical, you pretty much don’t get a foul unless you are going to the basket and get taken out, but it is an awesome game and I love it, it is definitely my style of game and something I would definitely like to see become a lot bigger here in Australia. Playing against obviously some of the world’s best three on three players has given me that little bit of experience and then also taking the physicality into my game a lot more and those skills that you need for the three on three.” A total of seven players on the Jayco Rangers 2017/18 roster have represented Australia in an overseas tournament this winter.
When Todhunter re-signed with the Jayco Rangers for the 2017/18 season Dandenong head coach Larissa Anderson commented “I am very pleased that Mealz has rejoined the Jayco Rangers. Mealz is a valuable contributor and a true leader within our group. With her relentless defence, work ethic and team-first attitude she will continue to be vital to our team’s success.”8
In an interview with ‘The Evening Game’ in late May 2017 Todhunter commented on her own game “I’m definitely more of a hard-worker than a finesse player. I pride myself on hustling and working really hard”. On preparing for defensive roles Amelia said “I’ve been in the league for a while now, so I know a lot of players games really well. I try to see what (her opponent)’s go-to move is, and I try to take that away.”9
During the 2017/18 season the Jayco Rangers have a core rotation of eight players with the starting line-up being Lavey, Steph Blicavs, Sara Blicavs, Mijovic and Pedersen, with point guards Todhunter and Palau and forward/centre Roberts starting on the bench.
In the first game of the Jayco Rangers Round 5 double header they travelled to Adelaide and trailed the Lightning by 17 points, 55-38 half-way through the third quarter. The Rangers fought back to score the next 10 points and reduce the margin to a manageable seven points with two and a half minutes remaining in the term. The game ended up being a thriller and Amelia played a pivotal role in the dying minutes. With the Rangers trailing by three points Amelia made a three-pointer with a minute and 46 seconds remaining in regulation to tie the scores at 74 apiece each team made two more field goals in the fourth quarter leading to the scores being locked at 78-78 at the end of the quarter and the game going to overtime. During overtime neither side was able to score for close to three minutes, Todhunter made a jump shot to give the Jayco Rangers a two point lead with two minutes and 10 seconds remaining in overtime, during this time Amalie got a steal and also provided an assist for a Sara Blicavs three-pointer that extended the Rangers lead to five points. The Rangers held on to record a two point overtime victory 83-81 over Adelaide who had been on top of the ladder. Amelia finished the win against Adelaide with seven points, seven rebounds – ranked third for the Rangers and four steals. Amelia’s final rebound of the Round 5 victory against Adelaide was her 500th career rebound in the WNBL.
On Monday November 6 in the Melbourne Cup Eve game for the Jayco Rangers against the Melbourne Boomers Todhunter played the 200th game of her WNBL career 10 years and two weeks after making her debut for the Rangers. Amelia’s 200th WNBL game followed the same pattern as her 150th game, with the Rangers building a sizable lead only to struggle in the final quarter be over-run and lose a thrilling contest. In Todhunter’s 200th WNBL game in front of 3,157 spectators at the State Basketball Centre the Jayco Rangers led the Melbourne Boomers by 11 points at three quarter-time 48-37, but the Rangers only managed six points in the first nine minutes of the final quarter to trail 54-55 with a minute remaining. The Boomers won 60 points to 57 to secure the season series against the Rangers with one game remaining to win the Michelle Timms Cup. In her milestone game Todhunter was one of only two Rangers along with Kayla Pederson to shoot at more than 40% from the field. Amelia made three of her five field goals for an accuracy of 60%, scoring seven points in 20 minutes and three seconds court-time.
The victory against Adelaide was the Rangers third win during the 2017/18 season after trailing by 10 points or more, in all three of these games the Rangers won by two points or less, having also defeated Canberra on the road and Sydney at home. Only one other game during the 2017/18 season has been won by two points or less, being when the Melbourne Boomers defeated the Perth Lynx by two points in a Round 3 game that went to overtime at the State Basketball Centre. Meaning that of the four games decided by two points or less this season a Melbourne club has won each time with Dandenong accounting for three of these victories.
After Round 5 the Jayco Rangers have a record of four wins and four losses to be fifth on the WNBL ladder. Reigning champions Sydney are on top of the ladder with six wins and two losses, followed by Adelaide and Townsville both with a record of five wins and three losses with Melbourne fourth on the ladder with five wins and four losses.
During 2017/18 Todhunter has played all eight games for the Jayco Rangers, averaging 3.0 points, 3.5 rebounds, 1.1 assists and 1.4 steals per game in 17 minutes and two seconds court-time per game.
Earlier this week in her 11th WNBL season Todhunter played her 200th WNBL game comprised of 98 with the Jayco Rangers, 78 with the Boomers and 24 with the West Coast Waves. On Friday November 10 in a home game at Dandenong Stadium against the Adelaide Lightning the Jayco Rangers play their seventh game in 21 days. The Rangers then have a nine day break before their next game on Sunday November 19 a home game at Traralgon Stadium when Amelia will reach another milestone, playing her 100th club game in the WNBL with the Jayco Rangers.
In every calendar year from 2007 to 2017 Amelia has spent at least one season playing for the Dandenong Rangers, either in the WNBL, SEABL or the Big V League and in several years she has played for Dandenong in both the summer and winter seasons.
With tenacity and perseverance Amelia has certainly proved the doubters wrong, having a successful career, starring in the SEABL and performing a valuable role in the WNBL, either as a starting point guard or back-up point guard. Amelia’s strengths throughout her career have been her tight defence, leadership, hustle and ability to read the play and steal the ball. Milestones and misses congratulate Amelia Todhunter on playing her 200th WNBL game and wish her all the best for the remainder of the 2017/18 season.
By Dean Andrews
Twitter – @DeanAndrews7777
2 Basketball Australia, Spotlight, Official Game Program, 6-8 November, 2015, page 9
3 The Age, Rangers face tough tests as heat builds by Roy Ward, December 4, 2015
5 Basketball Australia, Spotlight, Official Game Program, 6-8 November, 2015, page 9