Bendigo Spirit player profiles and guide to 2022/23 Cygnett WNBL season

Entering the 2022/23 Cygnett WNBL season 10 of the 11 players on Bendigo Spirit’s main roster had represented the club in the WNBL previously. Four Bendigo Spirit players that were starters for the club and each averaged more than 8.5 points per game in 2021/22 have suited up for the club again in 2022/23, reigning WNBL Most Valuable Player Anneli Maley, Megan McKay, Tessa Lavey and Alex Wilson. Guard Cassidy McLean and forward Piper Dunlop are each playing their third consecutive season for Bendigo Spirit in 2022/23.

On 24 May 2022 Bendigo Spirit announced that the club had appointed Kennedy Kereama as the Spirit’s Head Coach for the 2022/23 WNBL season. Kereama was Head Coach of the West Coast Waves (now known as the Perth Lynx) for three seasons from 2012/13 to 2014/15. Kereama was an Assistant Coach of the University of Canberra Capitals in 2021/22 and was the Capitals caretaker Head Coach for four games. Three players that Kereama coached at the Capitals in 2021/22 were recruited by the Spirit in the off-season – Kelly Wilson, Kelsey Griffin and Alicia Froling. This trio had all represented Bendigo in the WNBL previously with Wilson and Griffin being members of Bendigo’s WNBL Championship winning teams in 2012/13 and 2013/14. Wilson holds the WNBL’s All-time games record with 416 games including over 200 games for Bendigo and Griffin is a three-time Rachel Sporn medal winner including for both of Bendigo’s WNBL Championships. Froling’s first season on a main roster of a WNBL club was with Bendigo Spirit in the 2020 hub season.

After being a starter for the Adelaide Lightning in 2020 and 2021/22, guard Abbey Wehrung returns to play her third season with Bendigo Spirit, having previously played for the club in 2018/19 and 2019/20. All 10 players on Bendigo’s 11 player main roster for the 2022/23 Cygnett WNBL season with previous WNBL experience have played in the league for Bendigo Spirit. After playing three seasons of College basketball for UC Irvine University, forward Sophia Locandro made her WNBL debut with Bendigo in Round 1 of the 2022/23 season.

Bendigo Spirit won their first six games of the 2022/23 Cygnett WNBL season to be on top of the ladder and the only undefeated team after Round 5.

This article includes:

  • A brief look back at Bendigo Spirit’s 2021/22 WNBL season
  • A guide to Bendigo’s 2022/23 Cygnett WNBL season
  • Detailed profiles on all 11 members of Bendigo Spirit’s main roster and head coach Kennedy Kereama.

Bendigo Spirit 2021/22 season review

Wins         7

Losses       9

Finished regular season in fifth place

Bendigo had a new look starting line-up with point guard Tessa Lavey being the only member of the Spirit’s starting five in both 2020 and 2021/22. Joining Lavey in the 2021/22 Spirit starting line-up for their opening game of the season on 4 December were four players that started for rival WNBL clubs in 2020 – point guard Leilani Mitchell, shooting guard Maddie Garrick, forward Anneli Maley and centre Megan McKay. Tracy York was Bendigo’s Head Coach for the third consecutive season, having commenced the role in 2019/20.  

Led by an Anneli Maley double-double comprised of 18 points and 13 rebounds Bendigo won their first home of the season at Red Energy Arena against Melbourne Boomers 63-58 on 8 December. Guard Alex Wilson joined Bendigo early in the season and played her first game for the club on 19 December in Bendigo’s third game of the season. Bendigo played their fourth and final game for December on the 22nd and had a record of one win and three losses for the month. 

Due to COVID cases among Bendigo Spirit and rival WNBL clubs it was just under a month until Bendigo played their next game on 21 January against Townsville Fire at Bendigo Stadium. In the week before Bendigo’s home game against Townsville Mitchell announced that due to being pregnant she would be unable to play for Bendigo for the remainder of the season. Alex Wilson moved into Bendigo’s starting line-up. The Spirit lost all five games they played from 21 to 29 January to have a record of one win and seven losses over the first two months of the 2021/22 WNBL season.

Bendigo recorded their second victory of the season on 5 February by defeating Adelaide 74-62 in a road game at Lights Community and Sports Centre. In the victory against Adelaide Maley scored 26 points and took 21 rebounds to set game-highs in both categories and was named the WNBL’s Player of the Week for Round 10.

On 6 March Bendigo defeated Melbourne Boomers 68-65 in a road game at Melbourne Sports Centres Parkville to win the season series against eventual 2021/22 WNBL Champions Melbourne two game to one. In the road victory three Bendigo players scored at least 13 points – Maley (17 points), Lavey (16) and Garrick (13).

Bendigo Spirit huddle after defeating Melbourne Boomers on 6 March 2022 at Melbourne Sports Centres Parkville

Bendigo Spirit were a much improved team in the second half of the season, winning six of their last eight games to finish the regular season fifth on the ladder with seven wins and nine losses. All five of Bendigo’s starters averaged more than 8.5 points per game in 2021/22 – Maley with a league-leading 19.8 points per game, Garrick (13.9), McKay (10.1), Lavey (9.8) and Alex Wilson (8.8). Maley led the league with 15.7 rebounds per game and won the WNBL’s Suzy Batkovic Medal for being the league’s Most Valuable Player (MVP). Lavey ranked fifth in the WNBL with 4.9 assists per game.

Bendigo Spirit 2022/23 main roster

Returning:           Piper Dunlop, Tessa Lavey, Anneli Maley, Megan McKay, Cassidy McLean, Alex Wilson

Arrivals:              Alicia Froling (UC Capitals – WNBL), Sophia Locandro (UC Irvine University – USA) Kelsey Griffin (UC Capitals – WNBL), Abbey Wehrung (Adelaide Lightning – WNBL), Kelly Wilson (UC Capitals – WNBL)

Departures:   Carly Boag, Maddie Garrick (Bruschi San Giovanni Valdarno-Italy), Mary Goulding, Leilani Mitchell

Four players who commenced the 2021/22 WNBL season on Bendigo Spirit’s main roster aren’t playing in the WNBL in 2022/23. Leilani Mitchell had a daughter Elle in June 2022. Maddie Garrick is playing in Italy for Bruschi San Giovanni Valdarno. Mary Goulding had signed with Bendigo for the 2022/23 WNBL season but suffered a long-term injury playing for Pouakai in New Zealand during the inaugural Tauihi Basketball Aotearo season in 2022.

Player                                       Position                    Date of birth                                     

Tessa Lavey                                           Guard                          29/03/1993

Kelly Wilson                                          Guard                          01/01/1984

Alex Wilson                                           Guard                           21/03/1994

Abbey Wehrung                                     Guard                            28/12/1995     

Cassidy McLean                                    Guard                             09/06/1999

Anneli Maley                                         Forward                          01/09/1998

Kelsey Griffin                                         Forward                         02/07/1987

Alicia Froling                                          Forward                         31/01/1996

Piper Dunlop                                          Forward                          26/03/2003    

Sophia Locandro                                     Forward                          08/01/2001

Megan McKay                                         Centre                            08/01/1997

Player profiles on all 11 members of the Bendigo Spirit main roster for the 2022/23 Cygnett WNBL season are included later in this article.

Development Players:

Dyani Anaviev                                           Guard                                12/05/2004

Aneta Bandilovska                                     Guard

Erin Condron                                              Centre                               16/06/2004

Emma Mahady                                            Guard                                  22/08/1992

Ruby Porter                                                  Guard                                 15/10/2001 

Micah Simpson                                            Guard                                  02/12/2002

Coaches

Kennedy Kereama           Head Coach

John White                       Assistant Coach

Deanna Smith                    Assistant Coach

Zoe Carr                             Assistant Coach

A profile on Bendigo Spirit Head Kennedy Kereama is included later in this article.

Guide to Bendigo Spirit’s 2022/23 Cygnett WNBL season

On 12 April 2022 Bendigo Spirit announced that “From April 2022, Sports Entertainment Network (SEN) will acquire the Bendigo Spirit WNBL licence from Bendigo Stadium Limited (BSL). Sports Entertainment Group (SEG) proposed the acquisition of the Bendigo Spirit WNBL basketball team, with licence to remain in Bendigo for a period of 10 years. BSL will also have the first right of refusal to re-acquire the Bendigo Spirit licence if SEG wish to dispose of it in future.”1

On the acquisition of the Bendigo Spirit WNBL license Richard Simkiss, CEO Ballpark, Rainmaker & Publishing, Sports Entertainment Network told WNBL Media “We couldn’t be more excited with this agreement and look forward enhancing our already strong connection to the local Bendigo community. We are committed to grow opportunities on and off the court via the SEN network, while supporting the team to deliver a third WNBL Championship.”2

Kennedy Kereama is in his first season as the head coach of Bendigo Spirit in 2022/23. Kereama is in his second stint as WNBL Head Coach, having been the coach of the West Coast Waves (now known as Perth Lynx) from 2012/13 to 2014/15. Kereama had eight years as the head coach of New Zealand’s national women’s basketball team, the Tall Ferns and in the past six WNBL seasons has been an Assistant Coach in the WNBL with Dandenong Rangers (2017/18), Melbourne Boomers (2018/19) and University of Canberra Capitals (2021/22). At the Capitals in 2021/22 Kereama had four games as the caretaker Head Coach. Three of the Capitals players for the 2021/22 season joined the Bendigo Spirit  for the current 2022/23 season – Kelly Wilson, Kelsey Griffin and Alicia Froling. In the off-season Kereama was the head coach of Froling at NBL1 South club Knox raiders. Froling excelled for Knox and won the NBL1 South Most Valuable Player (MVP) award. 

After playing shortened seasons in 2020 and 2021/22 due to COVID-19 the WNBL season returns to its usual length with each club playing 21 games during the 2022/23 regular season. All 84 games during the 16 round Cygnett WNBL regular season will be broadcast on television. A Wednesday game each round will be broadcast by ESPN and 68 games will be shown on Nine’s free streaming service 9 Now

Depth is going to be a major strength of Bendigo Spirit during the 2022/23 Cygnett WNBL season with the club having seven players on their roster that each averaged more than 25 minutes per game in 2021/22 and were starters for their respective WNBL clubs. Bendigo retained four starters -Anneli Maley, Megan McKay, Tessa Lavey and Alex Wilson. In the off-season Bendigo recruited three players that started for rival WNBL clubs in 2021/22 and have each played multiple seasons for the Spirit previously, WNBL games record holder Kelly Wilson, three-time Rachel Sporn medallist Kelsey Griffin and member of the Australian Opals bronze medal winning team at the 2021 FIBA Asia Cup Abbey Wehrung.

Bendigo Spirit during introductions for pre-season game against Southside Flyers at Dandenong Stadium on 22 October 2022

During the 2022/23 WNBL pre-season Kereama spoke about the style of basketball that Bendigo would play, commenting to wnbl.basketball “Team-oriented basketball. From our club’s perspective, our team’s perspective, we are going to be the type of team that plays for each other and be team-oriented. It will be very autonomous style of play, and allow plenty of freedom for the players to go out and just play.”

“I have belief in their ability to play basketball. We obviously have some concepts and rules and guidelines within that. We have a great team, with players that can space the floor. We want to generate the highest percentage shot we can on each possession – the right shot, at the right time.”

“From a defensive point, I see a very hardworking, blue collar, disruptive team. We have good length in our guards and really disruptive perimeter defending forwards. We can change things up and extend our pressure, and certainly hope we can play at a tempo that may be able to challenge team’s conditioning.”3

In the 2022/23 WNBL pre-season Bendigo Spirit were impressive, defeating the New Zealand Tall Ferns twice and also defeated WNBL rivals Melbourne Boomers and Southside Flyers.

On 4 November Bendigo Spirit announced that Kelly Wilson and Kelsey Griffin were Bendigo Spirit co-captains for the 2022/23 Cygnett WNBL season. Also in Bendigo’s five player leadership group are Anneli Maley, Megan McKay and Abbey Wehrung.

In Bendigo’s opening game of the 2022/23 Cygnett WNBL season against the University of Canberra Capitals on 4 November Kelly Wilson and Wehrung started in the Spirit backcourt along with Maley, Griffin and McKay in the front-court. Lavey was unavailable for the first two rounds of the WNBL season due to AFLW commitments with Richmond and played her first game of the WNBL season in a Round 4 road game against Townsville Fire.

Bendigo Spirit have been in scintillating form during the first five rounds of the 2022/23 Cygnett WNBL season to win all six games to be on top of the ladder and are the only undefeated team after Round 5. Four of Bendigo’s victories have been by more than 15 points. In a top of the table road game against Townsville Fire at Townsville Fire on 2 December Bendigo won a high quality-thriller 68-66. Four Bendigo players were in double figures for scoring against Townsville – Griffin and Alex Wilson with an equal team-high 16 points along with Froling (13 points) and Maley (12).

On the 29 November episode of The WNBL Show Maley commented on Bendigo Spirit’s start to the 2022/23 Cygnett WNBL season, saying “With Kelly Wilson and Kelsey Griffin running the show it’s a recipe for success always and it has been and it has been really fun to play with them and learn from them everyday.”  

Bendigo have eight players that are averaging more than 15 minutes per game in 2022/23 comprised of four forwards – Griffin, Maley, Froling and McKay along with four guards in Kelly Wilson, Wehrung, Alex Wilson and Lavey. This provides Bendigo with tremendous depth and flexibility in the line-ups that they put out on the court. Six Bendigo players have averaged more than 8.5 points per game up until the end of Round 5 – Maley (18.8 points), Griffin (18.0), Froling (11.2), Alex Wilson (10.7), McKay (9.6) and Wehrung (8.8). Point guard Kelly Wilson ranks second in the WNBL with 6.2 assists per game.

Two forwards on Bendigo Spirit’s 2022/23 rosters have won the WNBL’s regular season Most Valuable Player Award with Maley being the reigning winner, having won the award in 2021/22 with Bendigo whilst Griffin won the award in 2018/19 playing for the University of Canberra Capitals. A total of five players playing in the WNBL this season have one at least one WNBL regular season MVP Awards, Southside Flyers frontcourt duo Lauren Jackson and Abby Bishop along with Adelaide Lightning captain Steph Talbot who the award in 2020.  

Griffin and Maley have each earnt multiple selections in the WNBL’s Team of the week during the first five rounds of the 2022/23 season with Griffin having been selected in Rounds 1, 4 and 5 whilst Maley was selected in Rounds 2 and 4. In the past two Rounds a Bendigo Spirit player has been named the WNBL’s Player of the Week, with Maley achieving this feat in Round 4 followed by Griffin in Round 5. Maley leads the league with 11.7 rebounds per game and Grifin ranks first in the WNBL with 3.2 steals per game. Bendigo are the only club with two players ranked in the top seven for scoring with Maley third and Griffin fourth.  

In Bendigo’s first six games of the season the only game that all of the Spirit’s top eight ranked players for minutes per game played was the Round 4 road game against Sydney on 4 December. In Bendigo’s most recent game against Adelaide in Mildura on 10 December two starters Wehrung and McKay were missing due to illness and family commitments respectively. Froling in her first start for the season and Alex Wilson in her second start for the season each reached double figures in scoring against Adelaide. Co-captain Griffin played brilliantly to score 30 points, take 10 rebounds and make six steals to set game-highs in all three categories in Bendigo’s 84-75 victory against Adelaide.  

After making the finals six times in seven seasons from 2008/09 to 2014/15 Bendigo Spirit have missed the finals for seven consecutive seasons from 2015/16 to 2021/22. In the three consecutive seasons that Bendigo made the WNBL Grand Final from 2012/13 to 2014/15 the Spirit’s best start to the season was winning their first six games in 2012/13. Bendigo have replicated this by winning their first six games of the 2022/23 Cygnett WNBL season and can better it if they defeat Sydney in their next game at home on Wednesday 14 December.

Early in the 2022/23 WNBL season Bendigo have done an excellent job of generating the right shots and making these shots. With their perimeter shooting Bendigo have been able to space the floor well and have four players that have made at least five three-pointers at an accuracy of at least 40% – Maley, Wehrung, Griffin and Alex Wilson. Five Bendigo players have made at least 15 field goal attempts and have a field goal accuracy above 48% – McKay (55%), Froling (52%), Griffin (51.9%) Wehrung (51.4%) and Maley (48.9%). Bendigo have a field goal accuracy of 47.7% – ranked second in the WNBL behind the Melbourne Boomers.  

Over the first five rounds of the 2022/23 Cygnett WNBL Bendigo are ranked number one for defense, conceding 68.2 points per game and are one of only three sides conceding less than 79.0 points per game. Townsville Fire are ranked second with 74.8 points against, followed by Melbourne Boomers with 75.8 points against

After making the finals six times in seven seasons from 2008/09 to 2014/15 Bendigo Spirit have missed the finals for seven consecutive seasons from 2015/16 to 2021/22. In the three consecutive seasons that Bendigo made the WNBL Grand Final from 2012/13 to 2014/15 the Spirit’s best start to the season was winning their first six games in 2012/13. Bendigo have replicated this by winning their first six games of the 2022/23 Cygnett WNBL season and can better it if they defeat Sydney in their next game at home on Wednesday 14 December.

Joining Bendigo in the top four on the ladder after Round 5 are Melbourne Boomers (five wins and one loss), Townsville Fire (four wins and two losses) and the Southside Flyers (four wins and three losses). Five of Bendigo’s last seven games of the season are against sides currently in the top four and their other two games in this period are against Perth Lynx who are currently sixth on the ladder.    

More detail on Bendigo Spirit’s 11 main roster players and Head Coach Kennedy Kereama are provided in the profiles section below.

Player profiles for main roster players in alphabetical order of surname

Games played are as at 11 December 2022 after Round 5 of the 2022/23 Cygnett WNBL season

Piper Dunlop

Date of birth  26 September 2003       Height 187cm                   

#16                                               Position: Forward    

Junior Club                                 Bendigo Junior Braves (Victoria)     

WNBL debut: 2020                    WNBL games played: 15 (All with Bendigo Spirit)

Nationality                                  Australian

Piper Dunlop grew up in Bendigo and played her entire junior career with Bendigo. After representing junior Bendigo Braves teams forward Dunlop made her WNBL debut with Bendigo Spirit in 2020 and is playing her third consecutive WNBL season with the club during the 2022/23 Cygnett WNBL season.

On WNBL debut for Bendigo Spirit at 17 years of age Dunlop made a three-pointer in her debut game against Southside on 12 November. During the 2020 hub season Dunlop played eight games for Bendigo and averaged 2.4 points, 1.4 rebounds and 6.5 minutes court-time whilst having a field goal accuracy of 53.3%.

During 2021 Dunlop studied year 12 at Catherine McAuley College in Bendigo. On 14 May, 2021 Bendigo Spirit announced that they had signed Dunlop to a full contracted position. Bendigo’s then Head Coach Tracy York commented on Dunlop “She has transitioned from a training player to development player and now to a full contracted position. Piper epitomises the pathway we have in Bendigo and Australian basketball to reach the highest level. When she got her opportunity on court (in 2020) it was clear she has the ability, work ethic, and coachability to perform at WNBL level. That’s why offering Piper a contracted position and to keep her in Bendigo was an easy decision.”4

Piper Dunlop during the introductions for Bendigo Spirit’s pre-season game against Southside Flyers at Casey Stadium on 20 November 2021

Dunlop played at senior level for the Bendigo Braves during the 2019 NBL1 South season. After the 2020 NBL1 South season was cancelled due to COVID-19 Dunlop again played for the Bendigo Braves during the 2021 NBL1 South season, playing 15 games and averaged 9.00 points and 6.6 rebounds per game.

During the 2021/22 WNBL season Dunlop played three games for Bendigo Spirit and averaged 4.2 minutes per game. Dunlop joined Nunawading Spectres for the 2022 NBL1 South season. Against the Dandenong Rangers on 30 April Dunlop scored six points with a field goal accuracy of 75%, took a team-high 16 rebounds and made an equal game-high five assists. Dunlop played 24 games for Nunawading including 14 as a starter and averaged 4.0 points and 5.7 rebounds per game. Dunlop ranked fourth at the Spectres for rebounds per game and took more than eight rebounds in a game five times.

After Bendigo Spirit announced on 27 September 2022 that Dunlop had signed with the club for the 2022/23 season Dunlop told WNBL Media Bendigo Spirit has been a huge part of my upbringing and it’s an honour to represent them again. It’s something that will always seem surreal to me, especially with some of the old crew coming back, it feels incredible to suit up with them.”5

Piper Dunlop during the warm-up for Bendigo Spirit’s pre-season game against Southside Flyers at Dandenong Stadium on 22 October 2022

In the first five rounds of the 2022/23 Cygnett WNBL season Dunlop has had limited playing time, taking the court in four of Bendigo’s six games and playing a total of eight minutes.

Alicia Froling

#9                                              Position: Forward    

DOB  31 January 1996             Height 187cm                   

Junior Club                               Townsville (Queensland)     

WNBL debut: 2011/12             WNBL games played: 38

Nationality                                Australian

Alicia Froling was born and raised in Townsville, Queensland and is from a family with a very strong basketball pedigree. Mum Jenny played in the WNBL and Dad Shane played in the NBL. Alicia’s twin sister Keely is the captain of WNBL club the Sydney Flames her brothers Harry and Sam play in the NBL for the Brisbane Bullets and Illawarra Hawks respectively.

In 2011/12 Alicia made her WNBL debut as a development player with Townsville Fire. From 2011/12 to 2013/14 Froling played one game in each WNBL season for Townsville as a development player. At the 2011 FIBA Under 16 Championship for Women held in Adelaide Froling and current Bendigo teammate Wehrung were both members of Australia’s gold medal winning team. Froling represented the Australian Sapphires at the 2012 FIBA Under 17 World Championship for Women alongside Wehrung. The Sapphires finished fifth at the tournament, Froling ranked fourth for Australia in scoring, fifth for minutes played and rebounds and led the Sapphires for field goal accuracy.

Alicia and twin sister Keely played college basketball as teammates at Southern Methodist University (SMU), Dallas in 2014/15. As a freshman in 2014/15 Alicia played 30 games for the SMU Mustangs including 28 as a starter and averaged a team-high 11.5 points per game. Froling was selected in the 2014/15 American Athletic Conference All-Freshman team.

During a game against Cincinnati on 27 January 2016 Froling scored a career-high 33 points and took 22 rebounds. In 2015/16 Froling set a single-season Southern Methodist University record with 328 rebounds. Alicia broke her own record the following season, taking 339 rebounds in 2016/17 to lead the American Athletic Conference in this category. In both the 2015/16 and 2016/17 seasons Froling averaged a double-double and was selected in the All-American Athletic Conference Second Team in each season. After the 2015/16 college season Alicia’s sister Keely left SMU and joined WNBL club, University of Canberra Capitals. 

A knee injury resulted in Alicia not being able to play a game in 2017/18 and having a redshirt season. Froling made her return in 2018/19, playing 30 games including 26 starts for the SMU Mustangs and “Became the first player in program history with 1,000 points and 1,000 rebounds in a career.”6 Froling was selected in the 2018/19 All-American Athletic Conference Third Team. During her College career with SMU from 2014/15 to 2018/19 Froling played 125 games including 117 as a starter and averaged 12.2 points and 9.2 rebounds per game. Alicia finished her career at Southern Methodist University ranked first at the college for career rebounds and blocked shots and ranked third for points. 

During the 2020 WNBL hub season in Queensland Froling played for Bendigo Spirit and was teammates with three players on Bendigo’s current 2022/23 roster – Tessa Lavey, Cassidy McLean and Piper Dunlop. Froling played 13 games for Bendigo in 2020, averaging 2.0 points and 3.2 rebounds per game and shot the ball at 50% from the field. Froling ranked equal fifth at Bendigo for rebounds and second for blocked shots.

Froling joining University of Canberra Capitals for the 2021/22 WNBL season and her teammates included Kelsey Griffin and Kelly Wilson. Paul Goriss was the Capitals Head Coach and Kennedy Kereama was an assistant coach. Due to Goriss receiving a coaching suspension Kereama was the Capitals caretaker Head Coach for four games. In Froling’s first game for the Capitals against Sydney Uni on 5 December she scored eight points shooting at 66.7% from the field, took three rebounds and blocked one shot. In road game against Adelaide on 17 March Froling took a team-high and season-high seven rebounds – all offensive to set a game-high with seven offensive rebounds – thrr more than the second ranked player for the game. Alicia played 16 games for the Capitals in 2021/22 and averaged 2.3 points, 3.3 rebounds and 14.6 minutes per game.

Alicia Froling playing for University of Canberra Capitals against Perth Lynx at Selkirk Stadium in Ballarat on 19 January 2022

For the 2022 NBL1 South season Froling signed with the Knox Raiders who’s Head Coach was current Bendigo Spirit Head Coach Kereama. Less than a fortnight before the 2022 NBL1 South season commenced Alicia decided to change from shooting right-handed to shooting left-handed. During half-time of Kayo Sports coverage of the NBL1 Women’s South Grand Final on 3 September Alicia commented on making this major change, saying “I have actually had two major wrist surgeries (on my right wrist). After WNBL season I came here (to Knox Raiders) and 10 days before the first game I was like I can’t keep doing this, I am beating myself up and I know I have done everything I can to get my wrist right, it is obviously just something I am going to have to deal with. So my only option was to go to my left and it has paid off.”

Alicia Froling shooting a field goal left handed for Knox Raiders in an NBL1 South game at the State Basketball Centre on 21 May 2022 against the Kilsyth Cobras

From May 28 until the end of the NBL1 South season Froling scored at least 15 points in her last 16 games of the season and was very effective in the paint on both offense and defense. In a Knox 70-41 victory against Diamond Valley Eagles at the State Basketball Centre on 18 June Froling was dominant, scoring a game-high 31 points, shot the ball at 60% from the field, took a game-high nine rebounds and had three assists.

Knox’s final four games of the season included road games against two teams above them on the ladder, Mt Gambier Pioneers and Ringwood Hawks. Froling was phenomenal over these four games to score at least 20 points and take at least 15 rebounds in each game. Alicia set game-highs for scoring and rebounding in all four games and played a pivotal role in Knox winning all four games. Against Mt Gambier in an away game at The Ice House on 6 August Froling scored 27 points and took 18 rebounds in a Knox 75-68 victory. In Knox Raiders penultimate game of the regular season Froling scored 21 points and took 15 rebounds in a 66-64 victory against the Ringwood Hawks at The Rings on 13 August.

During the 2022 NBL1 South season Froling played all 23 games for Knox Raiders, averaging 21.5 points and 11.3 rebounds per game to lead Knox in both categories and rank eighth in the league in scoring and sixth in rebounding.

Alicia Froling shooting a free-throw for Knox Raiders in an NBL1 South game at the State Basketball Centre on 21 May 2022 against the Kilsyth Cobras

At the 2022 NBL1 South Awards held at the State Basketball Centre on Friday 2 September Alicia Froling won two awards, being named the league’s Most Valuable Player (MVP) and was selected in the All Star Five. Changing shooting hands is a significant adjustment to a basketball players game and Alicia’s ability to go from shooting right handed all her life to then make the change and win the NBL1 South MVP in her very first season shooting left handed is an incredible feat. It was a massive weekend for the Froling family with Alicia’s twin sister Keely joining her in the women’s NMBL1 South All Star Five, brother Harry was selected in the men’s NBL1 South All Star Five and was a member of the Hobart Chargers team that won the men’s South Conference Grand Final on Saturday 3 September.  

______________________________________________________________________________

The week after the NBL1 South season concluded an article was published on Milestones and Misses celebrating the 2022 NBL1 South Conference Women’s Award Winners. More detail is provided on Alicia’s exceptional MVP winning season in this article.

_______________________________________________________________________________

On 31 August Bendigo Spirit announced that Froling had signed with the club for the 2022/23 WNBL season. Froling returned to Bendigo after playing for the club during the 2020 WNBL hub season in Queensland when she was teammates with current Spirit players Lavey, McLean and Dunlop. Alicia continues to be coached by Kennedy Kereama who was appointed as Bendigo Spirit’s head coach in late May. Alicia is also joined at Bendigo by two of her team-mates at the Capitals in 2021/22, Griffin and Kelly Wilson.

After Froling had signed with Bendigo for the 2022/23 WNBL season Kereama told wnbl.basketball Alicia is one heck of a competitor; she’s done a tremendous amount of work and she’s just an absolute champion when it comes to dedicating time to her craft to get better. She’s proven at NBL1 level that she can rebound, score, bring presence to the paint and is a very good athlete, she has great versatility and does a great job at using her length. I’ve got a lot of trust in her, I know she has the goods and can deliver, this will be a season where she will consistently get to perform.”7

Alicia Froling playing for Bendigo Spirit in a pre-season game against Southside Flyers at Dandenong Stadium on 22 October 2022

In Bendigo’s opening game of the 2022/23 Cygnett WNBL season against former team, the University of Canberra Capitals on the road at the National Convention Centre on 4 November Froling made five of seven field goals at an accuracy of 71.4% and scored 15 points in 15 minutes and 58 seconds court-time. In Bendigo’s 77-60 victory against Sydney at Qudos Bank Arena on 4 December Froling was superb, making five of nine field goal attempts at an accuracy of 55.6%, scored 13 points, took eight rebounds, made three steals and blocked two shots.

Froling played off the bench in Bendigo’s first five games of the season and had her first start for the season in a Round 5 home game against Adelaide Lightning at Mildura Sporting Precinct. Against Adelaide Froling scored 11 points and took six rebounds. 

Froling scored at least seven points in all six games for Bendigo during the 2022/23 Cygnett WNBL season and is averaging 11.2 points, 4.0 rebounds and 20.5 minutes per game. Froling ranks third at Bendigo in scoring behind Maley and Griffin, ranks second with a field goal accuracy of 52.0% and  fourth for rebounds.

Kelsey Griffin

#23                                               Position: Forward    

DOB  2 July 1987                        Height 188cm                   

WNBL debut: 2012/13             WNBL games played: 199

Nationality                                    Naturalised Australian, was born in America

On 24 June 2022 Bendigo Spirit announced that Kelsey Griffin had signed with the club for the next three WNBL seasons until the end of the 2024/25 season. Griffin played her first six WNBL seasons with Bendigo from 2012/13 to 2017/18 and had great success. In Griffin’s first two seasons with the club Bendigo won the WNBL Championship and Griffin won the Rachel Sporn medal as Grand Final MVP. Griffin has played in four WNBL Championships and won the WNBL’s 2018/19 Most Valuable Player Award.

Bendigo Spirit Head Coach Kennedy Kereama told WNBL Media “Everywhere Kelsey has gone, success has followed. Her first stint with Bendigo is evident of that, leading this organisation to two WNBL Championships and then a further two most recently with Canberra. Kelsey’s level of consistency to perform at the highest level is unmatched, you just have to look at the stat sheet to see that. However, aside from the incredible talent we’re getting on the floor, we’re also getting a consummate professional off it. This is very exciting for the community of Bendigo, they have an attachment to Kelsey after her first run here. She’s a community and club favourite and I know that everyone is ecstatic to see her back in a Spirit jersey.”8

Kelsey Griffin was born and raised in Alaska. From 2005/06 to 2009/10 Griffin played College basketball for University of Nebraska Huskers. In each of her first three seasons for University of Nebraska Griffin averaged more than 13.0 points and 5.9 rebounds per game. Griffin was selected in the 2005/06 Big 12 All-Rookie team and was selected in the Big 12 first-team in 2006/07 and 2007/08. In her first two college seasons with University of Nebraska Griffin was teammates with fellow forward Chelsea Aubrey. Due to an ankle injury Griffin was unable to play for the Huskers in 2008/09 and had a redshirt season.

On 6 March 2010 against Kansas State Griffin made 15 of 19 field goal attempts at an accuracy of 78.9% and scored a career-high 36 points in University of Nebraska’s victory. The Huskers had an overall record of 32 wins and two losses in 2009/10 and made it to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament. University of Nebraska were the Big 12 regular season champions for the first time in their history and won the St Mary’s Hilton Tournament. During her 2009/10 senior season Griffin was outstanding for the Huskers, averaging a double-double comprised of 20.1 points and 10.4 rebounds per game and had a field goal accuracy of 59.6%. In 2009/10 Griffin was named the Big 12 Player of the Year, a first team All-American and was selected in the Big 12 All-Defensive Team.

During her college career Griffin started all 127 games that she played for University of Nebraska and averaged 16.0 points, 8.0 rebounds, 1.4 steals and 0.7 blocked shots per game shooting at 55.8% from the field. Griffin “closed her five-year career with a school-record 127 starts, while ranking fourth in school history with 2,033 points and fourth with 1,019 rebounds.”9 Griffin’s number 23 jersey was retired by University of Nebraska in 2014 and in 2021 she was inducted into the University of Nebraska Athletic Hall of Fame.

At the 2010 WNBA Draft Griffin was selected by the Minnesota Lynx with the third pick overall, later on draft day Minnesota traded Griffin to Connecticut Sun. In her rookie WNBA season in 2010 Griffin played 34 games for Connecticut and averaged 4.4 points, 4.7 rebounds and 19.5 minutes per game. Griffin ranked second among rookies for rebounds and was selected in the WNBA’s 2010 All-Rookie Team.

In a home game against New York Liberty on 25 August 2013 Griffin scored a career-high and game-high 22 points and took a game-high 10 rebounds for Connecticut to register the second double-double of her WNBA career. In 2013 Griffin was the only player to start all 34 games for Connecticut and averaged 8.7 points and 5.0 rebounds per game to set career-highs in both categories. Griffin ranked equal second for the Sun in rebounds per game and third in steals in 2013. In a five season WNBA career from 2010 to 2014 Griffin played 164 regular season games for Connecticut including 71 as a starter and averaged 4.9 points, 4.2 rebounds and 18.0 minutes per game. 

After receiving a phone call from former Huskers teammate Chelsea Aubrey, Griffin joined Canadian Aubrey at Bendigo Spirit a third of the way into the 2012/13 WNBL season as the Sprit’s second import and made her first appearance in Bendigo’s eighth game of the regular season. Griffin fitted seamlessly into an extremely strong Bendigo starting line-up with fellow front-court payers Gabe Richards and Aubrey alongside guards Kristi Harrower and Kelly Wilson. Griffin made an immediate impact with Bendigo Spirit to make nine of 15 field goal attempts at an accuracy of 60%, score 22 points, took eight rebounds and a team-high two steals in her first game for the club, a 91-76 victory against Sydney Flamers on 16 November 2012 in a road game at Sydney Uni Sports and Aquatic Centre.

Bendigo finished on top of the WNBL ladder at the end of the 2012/13 regular season with 21 wins and three losses. On 10 March 2013 Bendigo Spirit defeated Townsville Fire 71-57 in the Grand Final at Bendigo Stadium to win the Spirit’s first WNBL championship in the club’s sixth season. Griffin registered a double-double comprised of 20 points and 11 rebounds to win the Rachel Sporn medal as Grand Final MVP. In her debut WNBL season Griffin played 19 games for Bendigo in 2012/13 and averaged 16.5 points (ranked 4th in the WNBL) 8.6 rebounds (ranked 3rd), 1.7 steals (ranked equal 3rd) and 1.0 blocked shots (ranked equal 6th) per game.

Bendigo won the minor premiership for the second season in a row in 2013/14, having a regular season record of 22 wins and two losses, six games ahead of the second placed Dandenong Rangers and Townsville Fire in third position. Bendigo defeated Townsville by 11 points in the Grand Final to win back-to-back WNBL championships. Griffin was dominant in the Grand Final, making 10 of 16 field goal attempts at an accuracy of 63%, a game high four three-pointers with incredible accuracy, making all four shots from behind the arc, scored a game-high 28 points and took a game-high 15 rebounds – six more than the second ranked player for the game and won the Rachel Sporn medal as Grand Final MVP for the second year in a row.

In the 2014/15 regular season Bendigo had 15 wins and seven losses to finish second on the ladder, two wins behind Townsville Fire. Townsville defeated Bendigo in the Grand Final 75-65. During 2014/15 Griffin played 25 games for Bendigo and averaged 16.0 points, 9.2 rebounds (4th in the WNBL) and 1.3 steals per game (equal 4th). Griffin was named in the 2014/15 All-WNBL First-team and won the Robyn Maher Defensive Player of the Year Award.

Griffin became an Australian citizen in November 2015 and averaged 17.9 points (4th in the WNBL) 10.0 rebounds (3rd in the WNBL) and 2.0 steals (3rd in the WNBL) per game for Bendigo Spirit in 2015/16 to set new career-highs in all three categories and earn selection in the WNBL’s 2015/16 All-Star Five.

Kelsey Griffin shooting a free throw for Bendigo Spirit against the Melbourne Boomers on 23 October 2016 at the State Basketball Centre

During the 2017/18 WNBL season Griffin injured her hip early in the season and required surgery, ending her season after six games. Griffin played 121 WNBL games for Bendigo Spirit from 2012/13 to 2017/18 and averaged more than 13.9 points and 7.5 rebounds per game in all six seasons.

 At the 2017 FIBA Women’s Asia Cup held in Bengaluru, India in late July Griffin played for the silver medal winning Australian Opals. In the 73-74 loss in the final against Japan Griffin scored 30 points and took 15 rebounds to set game-highs in both categories. At the 2017 Asia Cup Griffin played all six games for the Opals and was exceptional to average 15.8 points, 8.2 rebounds and 19.9 minutes court-time per game. Kelsey ranked third overall at the tournament in scoring and equal fifth in rebounding. Griffin was named in the tournament’s All-Star 5 and won the Most Valuable Player (MVP) Award.

Griffin and current Bendigo teammate Lavey were members of the Australian Opals that won a gold medal in the 2018 Commonwealth Games held in Townsville and the Gold Coast in Queensland in April. In the Opals 99-55 victory against England in the gold medal game Griffin started on the bench and scored an equal game-high 16 points and took eight rebounds – ranked second for the game. Griffin played all five games for Australia and averaged 11.2 points and 7.0 rebounds per game to rank second for the Opals in both categories.

Kelsey Griffin (number 9) and current Bendigo teammate Tessa Lavey (number 5) in the Australian Opals team photo before their opening game of the 2018 Commonwealth Games against Mozambique on 6 April 2018 at the Townsville Entertainment Centre

For the 2018/19 WNBL season Griffin and Kelly Wilson both joined the University of Canberra Capitals. Canberra started the season strongly and continued with their momentum to record 16 wins and five losses during the 2018/19 regular season to finish on top of the ladder. The Capitals defeated Adelaide two games to one in the Grand Final series to win the 2018/19 WNBL Championship. Griffin registered a double-double in all Grand Final games, averaging 25.3 points and 16.7 rebounds to win the Rachel Sporn Medal as Grand Final MVP for the third time in her career. During 2018/19 Griffin played 26 games for the University of Canberra Capitals and averaged 19.7 points and 12.4 rebounds per game to set new career-highs and lead the league in both categories. Griffin was named in the WNBL’s 2018/19 All Star Five and won the WNBL’s Most Valuable Player Award for the regular season. Griffin became just the third person in league history to win the WNBL’s regular season and Grand Final MVP awards in the same season along with Lauren Jackson in 2002/03 with the Canberra Capitals and Suzy Batkovic in 2017/18 with Townsville Fire.

Kelsey Griffin playing for the University of Canberra Capitals against the Dandenong Rangers on 30 December 2018 at Dandenong Stadium

Griffin missed several weeks in the middle of the 2019/20 WNBL season due to an ankle sprain. The University of Canberra Capitals had 15 wins and six losses during the 2019/20 regular season to finish second, two wins behind the Southside Flyers. In a close Grand Final series the Capitals defeated Southside two game to nil with a combined margin of five points to win back to back WNBL Championships. 

Kelsey Griffin shooting a free throw for University of Canberra Capitals against the Melbourne Boomers on 23 February 2020 at the State Basketball Centre

In March 2020 Griffin had surgery on an injured shoulder. Griffin’s workload was managed throughout the condensed 2020 WNBL season played entirely in North Queensland and she commenced the season as the Capitals sixth woman before moving into the starting line-up mid-season. Averaging only 22.7 minutes per game in 2020 Griffin averaged 12.0 points per game, ranked sixth in the league with 8.1 rebounds per game and finished runner-up in the WNBL’s Sixth Woman of the Year Award.

Griffin played 15 games for the University of Canberra Capitals in 2021/22 and averaged 15.1 points and 8.1 rebounds (ranked 9th in the WNBL) per game to earn selection in the 2021/22 All-WNBL  Second Team. The Capitals made the finals in all four of Griffin’s seasons with the clubs, being defeated in a semi final in 2020 and 2021/22.

In Australia Griffin has played several seasons of state league basketball including playing for the Launceston Tornadoes in the 2021 and 2022 NBL1 South seasons.  During the 2022 NBL1 South season Griffin played 16 games for Launceston and averaged 24.4 points and 12.1 rebounds per game shooting at 50.1% from the field. Griffin ranked third in the NBL1 South Conference for scoring and rebounds per game.  

Kelsey Griffin playing for Launceston Tornadoes against the Ringwood Hawks on 28 August 2022 at the Rings

After signing with Bendigo Spirit for three WNBL seasons from 2022/23 to 2024/25 Griffin told WNBL Media in June 2022 “I’m excited to come back to Bendigo and play for a club and community that many people have put their heart and soul onto and put their faith in me early in my career. Especially Sue DeAraugo, who was an important part of my life and a big reason for my return to the Spirit. We’ve got a great mix of experienced and young talent that I’m excited to play with. Getting to share both my knowledge and leadership both off and on the floor with the young players and help them learn is something I’m looking forward to as well.”10

During the 2022 FIBA Women’s World Cup held in Sydney Griffin did an excellent job providing special comments for ESPN’s television coverage. Griffin has also provided special comments during the television coverage of the 2022/23 Cygnett WNBL season.

Kelsey Griffin contesting the jump ball for Bendigo Spirit in a pre-season game against Southside Flyers at Dandenong Stadium on 22 October 2022

In Bendigo’s first game of the 2022/23 Cygnett WNBL season Griffin was phenomenal in a road game against former side the University of Canberra Capitals at the National Convention Centre on 4 November, making six of eight three-pointers at an accuracy of 75%, scored a game-high 25 points and took an equal game-high 12 rebounds in Bendigo’s 105-85 victory.

Against Adelaide Lightning in a home game at Mildura Sporting Precinct on 10 December Griffin played an incredible game to score 30 points, take 10 rebounds and make three steals to set game-highs in all three categories. In Bendigo’s 84-75 victory Griffin shot the ball proficiently to make 11 of 18 field goals at an accuracy of 61% and three of seven three-pointers. For her exceptional game against Adelaide Griffin was named in the WNBL’s Round 5 Team of the Week and was also named the league’s Player of the Week.     

Griffin has played in all six Bendigo victories in the first five rounds of the 2022/23 WNBL season and is averaging 18.0 points (4th in the WNBL), 7.7 rebounds (equal 7th), 2.8 assists and a league-leading 3.2 steals per game. Griffin is averaging a career-high 2.3 three-pointers made per game – ranked equal sixth in the league.

WNBL Achievements:             WNBL Most Valuable Player (MVP) 2018/19 

                                                       All-WNBL first-team 2014/15, 2015/16, 2018/19

                                                      All-WNBL second-team 2021/22

                                                     Robyn Maher Defensive Player of the Year 2014/15

WNBL Championship 2012/13, 2013/14 (with Bendigo Spirit), 2018/19, 2019/20 (with Canberra Capitals)

Rachel Sporn Medal 2012/13, 2013/14 (with Bendigo Spirit), 2018/19 (with Canberra Capitals)

Tessa Lavey

#24                                            Position: Guard    

DOB  29 March 1993               Height 172cm                   

Junior Club                               Swan Hill Flyers (Victoria)     

WNBL debut: 2009/10             WNBL games played: 220

Nationality                                Australian

Tessa Lavey was born in Victorian border town Swan Hill and commenced her junior career playing basketball in the under-10s with the Swan Hill Flyers. As Lavey moved up the age groups in junior basketball her parents began driving her to higher standard competitions, driving four hours from Swan Hill to Melbourne on a Friday to enable Tessa to play for the Eltham Wildcats in the Victorian Junior Basketball League (VJBL) on a Friday night, train Saturday morning and then drive back another four hours to Swan Hill on Saturday.

During 2009 Lavey was in year 11 at Catholic College Bendigo and played for the General’s in Bendigo Basketball Association’s women’s league summer competition. In 2009 Lavey was a member of the Vic Country team that finished second at the under 18 National Championships.

At 16 years of age Lavey accepted a basketball scholarship to the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) in Canberra. Lavey was one of five Victorians to join the AIS team for the 2009/10 season along with Sara Blicavs, Bec Cole, Maddie Garrick and Carley Ernst (nee Mijovic). Lavey played 33 WNBL games with the AIS over three seasons from 2009/10 to 2011/12. For the AIS Lavey ranked third for assists per game in 2010/11 and equal second in 2011/12.

In three WNBL seasons from 2012/13 to 2014/15 Lavey played as a back-up point guard, playing nine games for the Canberra Capitals in 2012/13 and a total of 41 games in two seasons with the Bendigo Spirit including being a member of Bendigo’s 2013/14 WNBL Championship winning team alongside current Bendigo teammates Kelly Wilson and Kelsey Griffin.

In six WNBL seasons from 2009/10 to 2014/15 Lavey had primarily played as a back-up point guard and had averaged less than 4.5 points and 1.8 assists per game in each season. At 22 years of age Lavey moved interstate to gain experience as a starting point guard in the WNBL and joined the Perth Lynx for the 2015/16 WNBL season. As well as being the starting point guard for Perth Lavey was also appointed club captain. Lavey averaged 10.2 points per game and 3.4 assists per game in 2015/16 to set career-highs in both categories and rank in the WNBL’s top 10 for assists. During 2015/16 Lavey made 1.6 three-pointers per game – ranked equal ninth in the WNBL and ranked equal 12th in the league with 1.2 steals per game.

Lavey continued as Perth Lynx captain and starting point guard in 2016/17 and averaged 6.9 points, 3.9 rebounds, 4.3 assists (ranked 6th in the WNBL) and 1.6 steals (equal 5th in the WNBL) per game. Perth Lynx made the finals in both of Lavey’s seasons with the club, making the Grand Final in 2015/16 and the semi final in 2016/17.

Tessa Lavey in possession of the ball playing for Perth Lynx against Dandenong Rangers at Dandenong Stadium on 5 March 2017

After Lavey established herself as a WNBL starter whilst at Perth she returned to Victoria to be closer to family and played a total of 38 games with the Jayco Dandenong Rangers across the 2017/18 and 2018/19 seasons.  Playing for the Rangers Lavey ranked equal 19th in the WNBL for assists per game in 2017/18 and 10th in this category in 2018/19 with 3.2 assists per game.

Tessa Lavey playing for Dandenong Rangers against Bendigo Spirit at Traralgon Stadium on 19 November 2017

With the Bendigo Spirit 172 centimetre tall Lavey averaged more than 9.5 points per game in three consecutive seasons from 2019/20 to 2021/22. On Tuesday 1 December 2020 point guard Lavey played her 200th WNBL game against the Perth Lynx at Townsville Stadium. In 2020 Lavey had a career best WNBL season with Bendigo Spirit to average 15.2 points, 4.8 rebounds, 5.9 assists – setting career-highs in all three categories, 1.0 steals and 35.0 minutes per game. In 2020 Lavey ranked third in the WNBL for assists per game, led the WNBL in minutes played, ranked 10th for scoring and 14th for three-pointers made. Lavey was a joint winner of Bendigo Spirit’s 2020 MVP Award along with former AIS teammate Carly Ernst. After graduating from the AIS Lavey has been teammates with Ernst at Perth Lynx, Dandenong Rangers and Bendigo Spirit. Lavey has also been teammates Maddie Garrick at Bendigo, Sara Blicavs at Bendigo and Dandenong and Bec Cole at Dandenong.

Tessa Lavey in possession of the ball playing for Bendigo Spirit against Southside Flyers at Dandenong Stadium on 3 November 2019

Playing for the Australian Opals was a major goal of Lavey’s and she achieved this ahead of schedule when she was selected in the Australian Opals team for the 2014 World Championships. Lavey has won two medals at major championships with the Opals – bronze at the 2014 World Championships and silver at the 2018 World Cup. Lavey has also represented the Opals at the 2016 and 2020 Olympic Games and at the 2018 Commonwealth Games was part of the Opals Gold medal winning team alongside current Bendigo teammate Griffin. At the 2016 Olympic Games Lavey ranked fourth for the Opals in assists per game.

In the lead up to the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games, held from 26 July to 8 August Milestones and Misses published an article comprehensively covering Lavey’s basketball and Australian Rules football career. A link to this article is below:

Lavey is a passionate supporter of Australian Rules football club Richmond. After Richmond joined the AFLW for the 2020 season Lavey began exploring the possibility of being a dual-sport athlete, playing both basketball and Australian Rules football. Lavey nominated for the 2020 AFLW draft and in the lead-up did some skills work with Richmond AFLW coaching staff. At the 2020 AFLW draft on 6 October Richmond selected Lavey with pick 43 overall. During the 2020 WNBL season played in hubs in North Queensland Lavey was able to do some Aussie Rules skills work with Southside Flyers point guard and Richmond teammate Monique Conti.

Lavey made her AFLW debut at 27 years of age in Round 3 against Collingwood at the Swinburne Centre on 14 February 2021, however due to a COVID-19 lockdown in Melbourne crowds weren’t allowed to attend the game. In three seasons for Richmond Lavey has played a total of 25 games including all 12 of Richmond’s games during AFLW season 7 in which the club made the AFLW finals for the first time. In AFLW season 7 Lavey ranked fourth at Richmond for intercept possessions per game, sixth for rebound 50’s and ninth for disposals.

Tessa Lavey about to kick the ball for Richmond against North Melbourne at Punt Road Oval on 5 March 2021

During the 2019 NBL1 season Lavey played for the Bendigo Lady Braves. To make it easier to combine playing basketball with playing football for Richmond in the AFLW Lavey joined the Frankston Blues for the 2021 NBL1 South season and continued playing for the club in 2022. In 2021 Lavey played 10 games for the Frankston Blues and averaged 15.4 points, 6.6 rebounds, 7.9 assists and 1.9 steals per game.

The 2021/22 WNBL season and 2022 AFLW seasons overlapped and due to a clash in schedules Lavey missed some games for both Bendigo and Richmond but was able to play the majority of games for each team. In 13 games for Bendigo Spirit in 2021/22 Lavey averaged 9.8 points, 3.2 rebounds, 4.9 assists, 0.9 steals and 33.9 minutes per game. Lavey ranked equal fourth in the WNBL for assists per game, fifth for minutes played and equal 16th for three-pointers made.

On 5 September Bendigo Spirit announced that Lavey had signed with the club for the 2022/23 WNBL season. Bendigo Head Coach Kennedy Kereama commented to wnbl.basketball “Tessa adds a number of things to this roster, from leadership, work ethic, athleticism, poise, selflessness and championship-winning experience. The unique attribute with Tess is that she has the ability to fit seamlessly into any combination and can play a role or be a key playmaker. Most of all, her ability to create and facilitate for others will be incredibly important, as well as playing both ends of the court.”11

Tessa Lavey playing for Bendigo Spirit against Melbourne Boomers at the State Basketball Centre on 19 October 2019

Due to AFLW commitments with Richmond Lavey missed Bendigo Spirit’s first three games of the season and made her return to play in Round 4. On being a dual-sport athlete playing basketball and Australian Rules football Lavey told The Pick and Roll “I wouldn’t be able to do it without the support of both clubs. They’ve been really amazing – I couldn’t have been a part of two better organisations in the Bendigo Spirit and the Richmond Tigers. I thank them for allowing it to happen and I know it’s not easy on everyone, it is really hard work for everybody involved, but I’m very thankful that I’m able to live out my dream. I think it works both ways – basketball has really helped me with footy; being in tight, making decisions really quickly, and I think with footy the aerobic capacity is just something you build over time. I’m lucky that I’ve had three AFLW preseasons now and that’s helped me with my basketball – both complement each other really well.”12

Lavey has played all three of Bendigo’s games from Round 4 onwards off the bench. In the top of the table Round 4 clash against Townsville on the road Lavey made a critical three pointer with one minute and 42 seconds remaining to take the Spirit from a one point deficit to a two point lead, 65-63. Bendigo went on to win the game 68-66. Lavey has averaged 18.9 minutes court-time for Bendigo per game and will play more court-time as she builds continuity with Bendigo throughout the 2022/23 Cygnett WNBL season.    

Sophia Locandro

#8                                               Position: Forward    

DOB  8 January 2001                Height 190cm                   

Junior Club                                Bulleen Boomers (Victoria)     

WNBL debut: 2022/23             WNBL games played: 3                  

Nationality                                 Australian

On 21 September 2022 Bendigo Spirit announced that they had signed Sophia Locandro for the 2022/23 WNNBL season. Bendigo Spirit Head Coach Kennedy Kereama told wnbl.basketball “Sophia has recently come back home from college and at 6”3 has all physical attributes to make her a competitor in the league. She has the ability to stretch the floor and I’m looking forward to seeing her growth over the next couple of seasons.”13

Sophia Locandro played junior basketball for the Bulleen Boomers and progressed to represent Victorian teams at Australian Junior Championships. Locandro was a member of the Vic Metro team that won gold medals at Australian Junior Championships in the Under-16s (2016) and Under 18s 2018. At the 2019 Under 20 Women’s Australian Junior Championships Locandro was a member of the gold medal winning Victorian team. 

At senior level Locandro played 24 games for the Diamond Valley Eagles in the inaugural 2019 NBL1 season and averaged 3.4 points and 2.3 rebounds per game. 

In 2019/20 Locandro joined UC Irvine University in the USA to play College basketball in the Big West Conference. Locandro scored at least 20 points in a game six times in 2019/20. Against University of Hawaii on 27 February 2020 Locandro scored an equal game-high and season-high 34 points and took a game-high 11 rebounds in a 72-71 victory. During her freshman season in 2019/20 Locandro played 31 games including 19 as a starter for UC Irvine and averaged 11.0 points and 5.4 rebounds per game. Locandro was selected in the 2019/20 Big West All-Freshman team and led her team for total blocks and rebounds.

From 2019/20 to 2021/22 Locandro played a total of 87 games including 73 as a starter for UC Irvine and during her three season college career averaged 9.6 points, 5.1 rebounds, 1.0 blocked shots and 23.6 minutes per game. Locandro led UC Irvine for total blocked shots in all three seasons.

Locandro played for Waverley Falcons during the 2022 NBL1 South season. On 30 July against the Launceston Tornadoes Locandro scored an equal team-high 18 points and took five rebounds – ranked equal second for the Falcons playing 21 minutes and 47 seconds off the bench in a 96-76 road victory. Locandro played 24 games for Waverley including five as a starter and averaged 6.8 points, 5.3 rebounds and 20 minutes court-time per game. Locandro  ranked fourth at Waverley for rebounds per game and took more than seven rebounds in a game seven times including three consecutive games in June.

In Bendigo’s opening game of the 2022/23 Cygnett WNBL season Locandro made her debut against University of Canberra Capitals. Locandro played less than two minutes court-time in each of Bendigo’s first three games of the season.

Sophia Locandro during the warm-up for Bendigo Spirit’s pre-season game against Southside Flyers at Dandenong Stadium on 22 October 2022

Anneli Maley           

#15                                                Position: Forward                  

DOB  1 September 1998               Height 185cm                         

Junior Club                                    Eltham Wildcats (Victoria)                          

WNBL debut: 2016/17                  WNBL games played: 71     

Nationality                                     Australian

Anneli Maley played her junior basketball with the Eltham Wildcats and has also represented Eltham at senior level in the NBL1 South conference in 2021 and 2022. At under-age level Maley represented Australia at several tournaments including Under 17 and Under 19 World Championships. Maley was a member of the Australian Gems team that won a bronze medal at the 2015 Under 19 FIBA World Championships held in Chekhov, Russia. Maley is an exceptional rebounder and at the 2017 FIBA Under 19 World Cup held in Italy she led the sixth placed Gems for rebounds and ranked fourth overall at the tournament in this category.

Maley joined WNBL club Adelaide Lightning in December 2016, two months after the 2016/17 season started and made her debut in the league at 18 years of age. The following month in an Adelaide Lightning victory on the road against the Dandenong Rangers on 8 January 2017 Maley fell just short of recording a double-double, scoring 16 points and taking a team-high nine rebounds. Maley played 12 WNBL games for Adelaide Lightning in 2016/17 and averaged 3.9 points, 4.2 rebounds and 0.7 assists per game. Playing off the bench for Adelaide Maley finished in the top five of the WNBL’s 2016/17 Rookie of the Year Award

Anneli Maley playing for Adelaide Lightning against Dandenong Rangers at Dandenong Stadium on 8 January 2017

In the United States of America Maley played one season of college basketball for the Oregon Ducks in 2017/18, playing 37 games off the bench. Against Southern Utah on 9 December 2017 Maley scored an equal season-high nine points, made two of three three-pointers, took a season-high eight rebounds and made two assists in 15 minutes court-time. After the 2017/18 college season Maley transferred from Oregon to Texas Christian University (TCU). Maley played 10 games for TCU including three as a starter in 2018/19 before returning to Australia during the Christmas break.  

During the 2019/20 WNBL season Maley played for the Southside Flyers. In a Southside 81-62 victory against Townsville Fire at Dandenong Stadium on 13 December Maley started on the bench and recorded a double-double comprised of 10 points and a game-high 10 rebounds in just 16 minutes and eight seconds court-time. Maley played 25 games for the Southside Flyers off the bench in 2019/20, averaging 2.3 points, 3.7 rebounds and 10.0 minutes per game.

Anneli Maley playing for Southside Flyers against Bendigo Spirit at Traralgon Stadium on 26 October 2019

During the 2020 WNBL hub season Maley flourished in a starting role with the Sydney Uni Flames. In each of Sydney’s last 11 games of the season Maley took at least eight rebounds and took more than 13 rebounds in a game six times. In Sydney’s 73-67 victory against Perth on 23 November Maley took 20 rebounds to set the season-high by a player in a single-game during the 2020 WNBL season. Maley was a revelation during the 2020 season for Sydney to average 7.9 points, a league-leading 12.1 rebounds per game and 29.6 minutes court-time per game whilst also impressing with her defense. At 185 centimetres tall Maley consistently battles for rebounds against bigger bodies, however with the ability to read the flight of the ball superbly, together with great body positioning and timing Maley averaged 8.4 defensive rebounds and 3.7 offensive rebounds per game in 2020 to lead the WNBL in both categories. Highlighting how dominant Maley’s rebounding was her 12.1 rebounds per game during the 2020 regular season was 31.5% more than the second ranked player in the league – Australian Opals teammate Cayla George with 9.2 rebounds per game

As a teenager Maley was a member of the Australian team that won the gold medal at the 2015 FIBA 3×3 Oceania Championships held on the Gold Coast. From 2019 onwards Maley has competed in several NBL 3×3 Pro Hustle events and has had success playing on teams with her partner, Marena Whittle. At the 2022 FIBA 3×3 Asia Cup Maley and Whittle were members of the Australian team that won the silver medal, Maley was named in the Team of the Tournament.

Anneli is from a basketball family, her dad Paul Maley played 270 NBL games from 1990 to 2001, was part of North Melbourne’s 1994 Championship winning team and during his first two NBL seasons in 1990 and 1991 averaged a double-double for the entire season. After his playing career ended Paul has held several sports related roles and has worked at Basketball Australia from April 2015, he has had the role of Executive General Manager, Basketball since March 2019.

On 4 May Bendigo Spirit announced that Maley had signed with the club for the next two seasons. Bendigo’s then Head Coach Tracy York told WNBL Media “We are extremely excited to sign Anneli to a two-year deal. She is a relentless rebounder and fearless competitor, and we think she fits well with the team we are building and want to put on the floor.”14

In early May 2021 Maley told the Bendigo Advertiser “The next step for me is being more of a threat offensively. In the NBL1 I’m able to put my offensive game in play, and I think I’m capable of doing that at the next level, but the key for me is doing it more consistently. Putting more scoreboard pressure on the opposition and being confident to take shots is what I’m working on. It would be cool to be known as not just a rebounder. I want to be an offensive threat as well.”15

In Bendigo Spirit’s fourth game of the 2021/22 season on 22 December Maley put on a shooting exhibition against the University of Canberra Capitals to score a career-high 38 points, made 14 of 20 field goal attempts at an accuracy of 70% and was even more effective from long-range, making five of six three-pointers at an astronomical accuracy of 83.3% to surpass her previous career-high of four three’s made in a season in a single incredible game. Against the Capitals in Round 4 at the National Convention Centre Maley took a game-high 20 rebounds comprised of nine offensive and 11 defensive. For her incredible Round 4 game against the Capitals Maley was named the WNBL’s Player of the Week. Maley’s 38 points against the Capitals was the most scored by a player in a WNBL game during the 2021/22 season.

Anneli Maley shooting a free-throw for Bendigo Spirit against Melbourne Boomers at Melbourne Sports Centres Parkville on 6 March 2022

Playing as a forward for Bendigo Spirit during the 2021/22 WNBL season Maley well and truly developed into an offensive threat, averaging a league-leading 19.8 points per game – an astronomical 250% improvement on her previous season’s output. Maley averaged 15.7 rebounds per game in 2021/22 to again lead the WNBL in this category and also led the league for free-throws made and minutes played. Throughout the 2021/22 season Maley was remarkably consistent, scoring at least 13 points in 15 of her 16 games for Bendigo and fell a solitary point short of recording a double-double in every game. Maley was recognised for her incredible season, winning the 2021/22 Suzy Batkovic Medal for being the WNBL’s Most Valuable Player (MVP) and was also named in the All-WNBL first team.

Anneli Maley playing Bendigo Spirit against Melbourne Boomers at Melbourne Sports Centres Parkville on 6 March 2022

To celebrate Maley winning the WNBL’s 2021/22 Suzy Batkovic medal for being the league’s Most Valuable Player an article comprehensively covering Maley’s incredible career was published on 5 May, 2022. A link to this article is below:

In May 2022 Maley attended WNBA team Chicago Sky’s training camp. After being waived by Chicago Maley was signed as a hardship exception player due to several of Chicago’s players being injured or overseas due to other playing commitments. Maley played four regular season games for Chicago, averaging 2.0 points, 1.8 rebounds and 11.0 minutes per game, before being waived when the players on Chicago’s roster returned.

On 31 May, 2022 Maley made her debut with Australia’s senior women’s basketball team, the Opals in game three of the friendly series against Japan. Despite not being part of the Opals training camp due to her WNBA commitments with Chicago Sky and missing the first two games of the series Maley fitted in seamlessly. Immediately after being substituted in for her Opals debut at the Newcastle Entertainment Centre Maley took an offensive rebound off a missed free-throw and scored a field goal. Maley finished the game with 11 points and seven rebounds.

During the 2021 NBL1 South season Maley averaged 17.3 points and a league-leading 23.4 rebounds per game for her home club the Eltham Wildcats. After her stint playing in the WNBA with Chicago Sky and making her Opals debut against Japan in late May Maley joined the Eltham Wildcats during the 2022 NBL1 South season. Maley played eight games for Eltham and averaged 21.5 points, 19.5 rebounds, 7.4 assists and 1.9 steals per game. Maley led the NBL1 South Conference for rebounds per game, ranked third in assists and ninth in scoring.

At the 2022 FIBA Women’s Basketball World Cup held in Sydney from 22 September to 1 October 2022 Maley made her major championship debut for the Opals. Against Mali in Australia’s second group game Maley made a three-pointer, took three rebounds and made one assist. Maley was a member of the bronze medal winning Opals team and played in five of Australia’s eight games for the tournament. 

In a top of the ladder Round 4 clash on the road against Townsville on 2 December at the Townsville Entertainment Centre Bendigo trailed 60-63 with four minutes and 30 seconds left in the fourth quarter. For the remainder of the quarter Maley made a lay-up and a three pointer to play an influential role in Bendigo going on an 8-3 run and winning 68-66. Maley took 16 a game-high 16 rebounds – eight more than the second ranked player for the game. Two days later in a Bendigo home game against Sydney at Red Energy Arena Maley made 11 of 19 field goal attempts at an accuracy of 57.9% scored a game-high 26 points and tool 11 rebounds in the Spirit’s 77-60 victory. Maley was named the WNBL’s Round 4 Player of the Round. 

Maley has played Bendigo’s first six games of the 2022/23 season and is averaging 18.8 points (ranked 3rd in the WNBL) and a league-leading 11.7 rebounds per game. Maley is shooting at an accuracy of 48.9% from the field and 47.4% for three-pointers to set career-highs in both categories. Among players that have made at least five three-pointers for the season Maley ranks sixth for three-point accuracy.  

Anneli Maley playing for Bendigo Spirit in a pre-season game against Southside Flyers at Dandenong Stadium on 22 October 2022

WNBL Achievements:          Suzy Batkovic medal winner 2021/22

                                                 All-WNBL first-team 2021/22

                                                 WNBL leading rebounder Award 2020, 2021/22

                                                  WNBL leading scorer Award 2021/22

Megan McKay

#25                                             Position: Forward/Centre    

DOB  8 January 1997                Height 190cm                   

Junior Club                                 Perry Lakes (Western Australia)     

WNBL debut: 2020                    WNBL games played: 36

Nationality                                  Australian

On 29 August 2022 Bendigo Spirit announced that Megan McKay had signed with the club for the 2022/23 season. Bendigo Head Coach Kennedy Kereama told WNBL Media Her journey has been a really exciting one, from being in the development academy with me at West Coast Waves many years ago, going off to play college and then paving her way in the WNBL, it’s been really exciting to see her grow. Megan is a very gifted player and I mean that in the sense that she does so many things that don’t necessarily show up on the stats sheet. She’s physically strong, she runs the floor incredibly well, she sets great screens for her teammates, she’s a great finisher around the basket, there’s just so many dimensions to her game.”16

Megan McKay started playing basketball at eight years of age in Katanning, Western Australia. McKay represented WA Country at several Australian Junior Championships and was a member of Australia’s gold medal winning team at the 2013 Under 16 Oceania Championships for Women and ranked fourth for Australia in scoring and rebounding.

At the 2014 Under 18 Australian Junior Championships McKay excelled playing for WA Metro to average 20.8 points, 15.0 rebounds and 1.4 blocked shots per game. McKay led the tournament with a field goal accuracy of 65%, ranked first for rebounds per game and second in scoring.

As a teenager McKay was a member of the West Coast Waves Academy and got to train against the West Coast Waves (now known as Peth Lynx) WNBL side. Current Bendigo Spirit Head Coach Kennedy Kereama was the Head Coast of the West Coast Waves when McKay was a member of the club’s academy.

McKay played her freshman college season in 2015/16 for St Mary’s in the NCAA Division 1’s All-West Coast Conference, playing 32 games and averaged 7.4 points and 5.4 rebounds per game shooting at 61.9% from the field. As a junior playing for the St Mary’s Gaels McKay was named in the 2017/18 All-West Coast Conference First Team. McKay “Led the WCC in field-goal percentage at 60.8 percent while also finishing among the top-10 in scoring (6th, 15.3 ppg) and rebounding (9th, 7.3 rpg).”17 McKay also earnt selection in the 2018/19 All-West Coast Conference First Team in her senior season. During her four-season college career with St Mary’s from 2015/16 to 2018/19 McKay played 128 games and averaged 11.5 points and 7.2 rebounds per game and shot the ball at 58.9% from the field.

At the 2017 World University Games held in Taipei McKay represented the Emerging Opals alongside current Bendigo Spirit teammates Abbey Wehrung and Alex Wilson. The Emerging Opals won the gold medal, defeating Japan 85-78 in the final.

McKay’s first professional season was playing for Wasserburg in Germany’s top Division in 2019/20. In 21 games for Wasserburg McKay averaged 16.0 points and 8.2 rebounds per the game. McKay shot the ball proficiently to have a field goal accuracy of 64.7% to lead the league in this category among players that had at least 10 field goal attempts for the season.

As Townsville’s starting centre during the 2020 WNBL season McKay averaged 7.4 points, 5.8 rebounds and 22.1 minutes per game. Playing predominantly as a back to the basket post player McKay shot a superb 64.3% from the field and was effective in on-ball screens as the screen setter, whether creating space for a teammate or rolling to the basket herself. McKay was a member of the Townsville team that finished second at the end of the 2020 regular season and made the Grand Final.

At State League level McKay has represented Perry Lakes Hawks in the seniors in both the WA State Basketball League and in NBL1 West. During the 2021 NBL1 West season McKay played 18 games for the Perry Lakes Hawks and averaged a double-double comprised of 15.1 points and 11.3 rebounds per game. 

Playing for Bendigo Spirit McKay started all 16 games during the 2021/22 WNBL season and took at least seven rebounds in a game eight times. In a brilliant all-round game for Bendigo against the Southside Flyers on 26 February 2022 McKay scored 22 points, made eight of nine field goal attempts at an accuracy of 88.9%, took eight rebounds and made five assists in the Spirit’s 96-80 victory at MyState Bank Arena. McKay played 16 games for Bendigo in 2021/22 and averaged 10.1 points, 6.8 rebounds and 26.2 minutes court-time per game. McKay ranked second at Bendigo Spirit for rebounds per game, third for scoring and among players that had at least 10 field goal attempts led the club with a field goal accuracy of 49.6%. McKay ranked equal eighth in the WNBL for offensive rebounds per game.

Megan McKay playing for Bendigo Spirit against Melbourne Boomers at Melbourne Sports Centres Parkville on 4 December 2021

The Bendigo Braves starting line-up for the 2022 NBL1 season included four players that are playing for Bendigo Spirit during the 2022/23 Cygnett WNBL season –  McKay, Cassidy McLean, Kelly Wilson and Abigail Wehrung. Completing the Braves full strength starting line-up was Australian Opals captain Tess Madgen. In 19 of her 24 games for the Bendigo Braves McKay registered a double-double. Against the Sandringham Sabres at Red Energy Arena on 16 July McKay scored a game-high 32 points at a field goal accuracy of 68.4% and took a game-high 14 rebounds in Bendigo’s 90-71 victory.  

The Bendigo Braves had 20 wins and two losses during the regular season to win the minor premiership, two wins ahead of the Ringwood Hawks. In Bendigo’s 73-89 loss to Ringwood in the Grand Final McKay scored 23 points at a field goal accuracy of 66.7% and took a team-high 17 rebounds. For the Bendigo Braves during the 2022 NBL1 South season McKay averaged 20.9 points, 11.8 rebounds and 2.3 assists per game. McKay led Bendigo for rebounds per game and ranked fifth in the Conference. 

Megan McKay playing for Bendigo Braves against the Ringwood Hawks in the 2022 NBL1 South Grand Final on 3 September 2022 at the State Basketball Centre

During the 2022/23 Cygnet WNBL season Megan McKay is playing her third consecutive season in Bendigo, having played for the Bendigo Spirit in the 2021/22 WNBL season and the Bendigo Braves in the 2022 NBL1 South season. McKay told wnbl.basketball  “I’m loving living in Bendigo and cannot wait to hit the court again. I’m looking forward to having a team that has a good core of returning players and players who really understand what it’s like playing in a country community. Kennedy (Kereama) has done a great job selecting a team that is very versatile and deep and I cannot wait to be a part of it.”18

Megan McKay during the introductions for Bendigo Spirit’s pre-season game against Southside Flyers at Dandenong Stadium on 22 October 2022

McKay started Bendigo’s first five games of the season and scored at least 12 points in each of her first three games of the season. In Bendigo’s 85-66 home victory against Perth Lynx at Red Energy Arena on 6 November McKay made nine of 12 field goal attempts at an accuracy of 75%, scored a team-high 20 points and took four rebounds. In 2022/23 McKay is averaging 9.6 points, 4.2 rebounds and 16.9 minutes court-time per game. McKay ranks third for Bendigo in rebounds and fifth in scoring. McKay missed Bendigo’s Round 5 home game on 10 December against Adelaide Lightning due to family commitments.

Cassidy McLean

#6                                               Position: Guard   

DOB  9 June 1999                     Height 178cm                   

Junior Club                               Newcastle Hunters (New South Wales)     

WNBL debut: 2016/17             WNBL games played: 70

Nationality                                Australian

Cassidy McLean played her junior basketball with Newcastle Hunters and has also represented the club at senior level. Playing for New South Wales at the 2017 under 20 Australian Championships McLean won the Bob Staunton Medal for Most Outstanding Player of the Tournament.

At the 2016 FIBA Under-17 World Championships held in Zaragoza Spain McLean was a member of the Australian Sapphires gold medal winning team. In the Sapphires opening game of the tournament against Mexico McLean made four of field goal attempts at an accuracy of 80% and scored nine points.

McLean made her WNBL debut in 2016/17 and was a member of the Sydney Flames WNBL championship winning team. McLean played a total of 15 WNBL games for the Sydney Flames from 2016/17 to 2017/18.  

McLean joined Bendigo Spirit for the 2018/19 WNBL season and played 21 games for the club,  averaging 3.1 points and 1.8 rebounds per game. In McLean’s first game playing for Newcastle Hunters during the 2019 season she ruptured the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in her right knee.

During the 2020 WNBL season McLean made her return from injury with the Bendigo Spirit and played all 13 games for the club. Over the past two years McLean has represented Bendigo Braves in NBL1 South and Bendigo Spirit in the WNBL. For Bendigo Spirit against the University of Canberra Capitals on 23 January 2022 McLean scored seven points, took four rebounds and made three assists. In 2021/22 McLean played 15 WNBL games for Bendigo Spirit and averaged 1.7 points, 1.1 rebounds and 12.3 minutes per game.

The Bendigo Braves starting line-up for the 2022 NBL1 season included four players that are playing for the Bendigo Spirit during the 2022/23 Cygnett WNBL season – McLean, Kelly Wilson, Megan McKay and Abigail Wehrung. Completing the Braves full strength starting line-up was Australian Opals captain Tess Madgen. From July 23 to August 6 McLean scored at least 20 points and took at least seven rebounds in three of her four games for the Bendigo Braves. Against the Melbourne Tigers in a home game at Red Energy Arena on 6 August McLean scored a game-high 29 points shooting at 61% from the field, made seven of 12 three-pointers, took seven rebounds, had four assists, two steals and two blocked shots in the Braves 100-52 victory.

The Bendigo Braves had 20 wins and two losses during the regular season to win the minor premiership, two wins ahead of the Ringwood Hawks. In the NBL1 South Grand Final Bendigo lost to Ringwood 73-89. McLean played 25 games for the Bendigo Braves during the 2022 NBL1 South season and averaged 10.9 points, 5.8 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 1.1 steals per game. McLean led the Braves for blocked shots, ranked third for steals and fourth for rebounds and assists. 

Casidy McLean playing for Bendigo Braves against the Ringwood Hawks in the 2022 NBL1 South Grand Final on 3 September 2022 at the State Basketball Centre

On 21 September McLean told WNBL Media“It was an easy choice to re-sign with the Spirit, this will be my fourth season with them, and I’ve absolutely loved every minute. I haven’t been coached by Kennedy before, but I’ve heard great things about him so I’m super excited to work with him. We’ve got some amazing players back and I think it’s going to be a special team and I’m really excited to be a part of it. In the off-season I think I’ve really stepped up in a few ways, defensively especially, so I’ll be looking to bring the energy and use my speed to my advantage.”19

Cassidy McLean shooting a free-throw for Bendigo Spirit in a pre-season game against Southside Flyers at Dandenong Stadium on 22 October 2022

McLean has played limited minutes in all six of Bendigo’s victories in the first five rounds, playing between two and 10 minutes in each game. In Bendigo’s opening game victory against the University of Canberra Capitals McLean her only field goal attempt, both free-throws, scored four points and had one assist.  

WNBL Achievements:               WNBL Championship 2016/17 (with Sydney Flames)    

Abbey Wehrung

#13                                             Position: Guard    

DOB  28 December 1995          Height 178cm                   

Junior Club                                Ballarat (Victoria)     

WNBL debut: 2014/15             WNBL games played: 152

Nationality                                  Australian

After playing two seasons for Bendigo Spirit in 2018/19 and 2019/20 Abbey Wehrung returned to the club for the 2022/23 Cygnett WNBL season. Bendigo head coach Kennedy Kereama told WNBL Media Abbey is a phenomenal talent and a wonderful human being. Her work ethic, her experience in the league, her versatility as a player, both on the offensive and defensive end, she can play multiple roles and has a number of boxes that she ticks with this team. For us to be able to bring someone of her calibre back to the program is a massive win for the Bendigo Spirit, she’s going to be a huge asset.”20

At nine years of age Abbey Wehrung commenced playing basketball for her school team at Mowbray College in Melton where her parents were both teachers. Abbey played for the Melton under 12 representative basketball team and later on played junior basketball with Ballarat. Wehrung  represented Vic Country at Australian Junior Championships up until the under 18’s.

Wehrung was a member of the Victorian women’s team that won the gold medal at the 2013 Under 20 Australian Junior Championships. In 2012 and 2013 Wehrung had a basketball scholarship at the Australian Institute of Sport in Canberra, one of the other scholarship holders was current Bendigo Spirit teammate Alex Wilson. At the 2011 FIBA Under 16 Championship for Women held in Adelaide Wehrung and Alicia Froling were both members of Australia’s gold medal winning team. Wehrung represented the Australian Sapphires alongside current Bendigo teammate Froling at the 2012 FIBA Under 17 World Championship for Women held in Amsterdam, Netherlands. In a quarter final against USA Wehrung scored 19 points, made three of seven three-pointers at an accuracy of 42.9%, took five rebounds and made two steals in a 68-89 loss. The Sapphires finished fifth at the tournament, Wehrung ranked second for Australia in steals and third for scoring and minutes played per game.

After graduating from the AIS in December 2013 Wehrung played in the 2014 South East Australian Basketball League (SEABL) season with Ballarat Rush. In 2014 Wehrung signed a three year deal in the WNBL with the University of Canberra Capitals until the end of the 2016/17 season. At 18 years of age Wehrung made her WNBL debut with the Capitals in 2014/15, playing 20 games for the season. In four seasons with the Capitals from 2014/15 to 2017/18 Wehrung played a total of 80 games. Wehrung’s scoring and rebounding output increased in each of her first four seasons and in 2017/18 she averaged 9.5 points, 3.2 rebounds and 2.4 assists per game to set new career-highs in all three categories. In each of the 2016/17 and 2017/18 seasons Wehrung made at least 27 three-pointers and had a three-point accuracy above 40.0%. 

Abbey Wehrung about to have a long range shot for University of Canberra Capitals against the Melbourne Boomers at the State Basketball Centre on 18 November 2017

During the 2015 SEABL season Wehrung playing for Ballarat Rush scored more than 19 points in a game seven times. In 18 games for Ballarat Wehrung averaged 17.5 points and 6.7 rebounds per game. At 19 years of age Wehrung ranked fifth in the SEABL for three-pointers made and won the league’s Youth Player of the Year award. Wehrung won the Robyn Maher Rush Most Valuable Player Award.

Wehrung joined Bendigo Spirit for the 2018/19 WNBL season. In Round 15, 2018/19 Wehrung scored 24 points in the first half of a home game at Red Energy Arena against her former team the University of Canberra Capitals on 19 January. Wehrung made nine of 17 field goal attempts in the game at a field goal accuracy of 52.9%, made all 10 free-throw attempts, scored a game-high and career-high 30 points, took four rebounds and made four assists to earn selection in the WNBL’s Round 15 Team of the Week. In 2018/19 Abbey made 33 of 74 three-pointers at an accuracy of 44.6% and ranked equal seventh in the league for three-pointers made per game. Among players that made at least 10 three-pointers Wehrung ranked fourth in the WNBL for accuracy. In two seasons for Bendigo Spirit in 2018/19 and 2019/20 Wehrung increased her career-high in scoring in each season, averaging 10.9 points per game in the latter season.

Abbey Wehrung in possession of the ball playing for the Bendigo Spirit against the Melbourne Boomers at the State Basketball Centre on 4 November 2018

At the 2017 World University Games held in Taipei Wehrung represented the Emerging Opals alongside current Bendigo Spirit teammates Megan McKay and Alex Wilson. The Emerging Opals won the gold medal, defeating Japan 85-78 in the final.

Wehrung was the captain of the Emerging Opals team for the 2019 World University Games held in Napoli, Italy. Wehrung was magnificent in the final against the USA, making eight of 13 field goal attempts at an accuracy of 62%, made all three three-pointers, scored a game-high 21 points, had a game-high 11 assists and an equal team-high two steals in Australia’s 80-72 victory to win the gold medal.

After initially being named as one of two Australian emergencies for the 2021 FIBA Women’s Asia Cup held in Amman, Jordan from 27 September to 3 October Wehrung received a late call-up in to the final 12 player team due to an injury to Maddy Rocci. Wehrung was one of nine members of the team made their Australian Opals debut in the team’s first game of the 2021 FIBA Women’s Asia Cup against Chinese Taipei on 27 September. As a member of the Australian Opals bronze medal winning team Wehrung played all six games for the Opals at the tournament and ranked equal second for Australia in assists per game.

Wehrung joined Adelaide Lightning for the 2020 WNBL season. In 2020 Wehrung made 24 of 59 three-pointers at an accuracy of 40.7% to be equal leader at Adelaide for three-pointers made per game along with Wilson who is a Bendigo Spirit teammate in 2022/23. Abbey’s 2.0 three-pointers made per game ranked equal fifth in the league and she was one of seven players in the WNBL that had an accuracy above 40.0% and made at least 20 three-pointers for the season. Wehrung averaged 11.3 points and 2.5 rebounds per game in 2020 to set career-highs in both categories. Wehrung’s scoring per game increased in each of her first seven WNBL seasons from 2014/15 to 2020 and in five consecutive seasons from 2016/17 to 2020 she averaged more than 8.0 points per game. 

With the Adelaide Lightning Wehrung played in the finals for the first time of her WNBL career in her eighth WNBL season in 2021/22 with Adelaide finishing fourth. In a semi final series Adelaide were defeated by minor premiers Melbourne Boomers two games to nil. During the 2021/22 WNBL season Wehrung played 17 games for Adelaide as a starter and averaged a career-high 2.7 assists per game.  

Abbey Wehrung playing for Adelaide Lightning against Melbourne Boomers at Melbourne Sports Centres Parkville on 24 March 2022

Wehrung is one of four players on Bendigo Spirit’s 2022/23 Cygnett WNBL roster that played for the Bendigo Braves during the 2022 NBL1 South season along with Kelly Wilson, Megan McKay and Cassidy McLean. Wehrung scored at least 27 points in a game four times including 27 points, six rebounds and six assists in a 111-81 victory against Hobart Chargers in a home game at Red Energy Arena on 24 July. The Bendigo Braves had 20 wins and two losses during the regular season to win the minor premiership, two wins ahead of the Ringwood Hawks. In the Grand Final Bendigo lost to Ringwood 73-89. During the 2022 NBL1 South season Wehrung played 25 games for the Bendigo Braves and averaged 16.0 points, 6.2 rebounds and 2.2 assists. Wehrung ranked third for the Braves in scoring and rebounds.  

Abbey Wehrung playing defense for the Bendigo Braves against Ringwood Hawks in the 2022 NBL1 South Grand Final at the State Basketball Centre on 3 September 2022

Bendigo Spirit announced on 25 August 2022 that Wehrung had signed with the club for the 2022/23 WNBL season. Wehrung told wnbl.basketball I’m stoked to be back, the stadium here feels like a second home to me so I’m really excited, it’s just all-round good vibes. “I’m looking to be a real lock-down defender this season, be really attacking offensively, play an up-tempo game and bring lots of energy.”21

In Bendigo’s opening game of the 2022/23 WNBL season against the University of Canberra Capitals on 4 November Wehrung made seven of 12 field goal attempts at an accuracy of 58.3%, three of four three pointers at an accuracy of 75% and scored 19 points. In the road game at the National Convention Centre Wehrung also made five assists and took an equal game-high three steals in the Spirit’s 105-85 victory. 

In a home game for Bendigo Spirit at Red Energy Arena against Sydney Flames on 12 November in Round 2 Wehrung played her 150th WNBL game early in her ninth season. Wehrung had an equal game-high six assists in the Spirit’s 77-57 victory. 

Below is a link to an article published on Milestones and Misses celebrating Wehrung reaching 150 WNBL games:

Wehrung has played five of Bendigo’s first six games of the 2022/23 Cygnett WNBL season and is averaging 8.8 points, 2.8 rebounds and a career-high 4.0 assists per game. Wehrung ranks equal 10th in the WNBL for assists per game and second at Bendigo behind Kelly Wilson (6.3 assists per game). Wehrung is shooting at 51.4% from the field and has a three-point accuracy of 45.5%. Due to illness Wehrung missed Bendigo’s Round 5 home game against Adelaide Lightning on 10 December.   

Abbey Wehrung playing for Bendigo Spirit in their pre-season game against Southside Flyers at Dandenong Stadium on 22 October 2022

In four of the past six completed WNBL seasons from 2016/17 to 2021/22 Wehrung has ranked in the league’s top 10 for three-pointers made per game. Achieving this feat in 2016/17, 2017/18, 2019/20 and 2020. In all four of these seasons Wehrung had a three-point accuracy of greater than 40% and among players that made at least 20 three-pointers for the season ranked in the WNBL’s top seven for accuracy.

Alex Wilson

#4                                               Position: Guard                      

DOB 21 March 1994                 Height 175cm                         

Junior Club                                Eastern Mavericks (South Australia)                          

WNBL debut: 2010/11             WNBL games played: 189     

Alex Wilson was born in Murray Bridge, South Australia and started playing basketball at four years of age. Wilson played her junior basketball with the Eastern Mavericks and was a teammate of 2020 WNBL Most Valuable Player Steph Talbot in the under 16’s and beyond. The Eastern Mavericks girls under 16’s team were runners up at the 2009 National Championships. At the 2013 Australian Under 20 Championships Wilson was part of South Australia’s silver medal winning team and had an exceptional tournament to win the Bob Staunton Medal as the tournament’s Most Valuable Player (MVP).

At 16 years of age Wilson made her WNBL debut with Adelaide Lightning in 2010/11 and played three games for the season. From 2011 to 2013 Wilson was an AIS Scholarship holder, another  scholarship holder in 2011 and 2012 was current Bendigo Spirit teammate Abbey Wehrung. At the 2013 FIBA Under 19 World Championships held in Lithuania from 18 – 28 July Wilson was a member of the bronze medal winning Jayco Australian Gems team. Wilson averaged 13.0 points per game, (ranked third for the Gems), 7.0 rebounds (second), 3.0 assists (third) and 24.4 minutes (fourth). At the 2017 World University Games held in Taipei in August Wilson and current Bendigo Spirit teammates Megan McKay and Wehrung were members of the Emerging Opals team that won the gold medal, defeating Japan 85-78 in the final.   

Playing for the Townsville Fire in 2013/14 Wilson won the WNBL’s Rookie of the Year Award, averaging 4.3 points and 2.4 rebounds per game. Wilson was a member of Townsville’s WNBL Championship winning team in 2014/15.

Alex Wilson playing for the Sydney Uni Flames against the Melbourne Boomers at the State Basketball Centre on 26 November 2017

From 2015/16 to 2018/19 Wilson played four consecutive WNBL seasons with the Sydney Uni Flames, winning a WNBL Championship with the Flames in 2016/17. In 2016/17 Wilson averaged 11.5 points per game and made 53 of 152 three-pointers at an accuracy of 34.9%. Wilson made 1.9 three-pointers per game – ranked ninth in the WNBL.

In 2017/18 Wilson made more than 50 there-pointers for the second season in a row, made 52 of 151 three-pointers at an accuracy of 34.4%. Wilson averaged a then career-high 12.1 points per game and her 2.3 made three-pointers per game ranked equal third in the WNBL.

In Sydney’s 10th game of the 2018/19 season Wilson suffered a season ending knee injury. Wilson averaged 12.9 points per game and ranked fourth in the WNBL with 2.2 three-pointers made per game. Wilson set a new career-high with 3.9 assists per game -ranked eighth in the WNBL.    

Alex Wilson playing for the Sydney Uni Flames against the Melbourne Boomers at the State Basketball Centre on 30 November 2019

At state league level Wilson has excelled, playing for the Launceston Tornadoes Wilson was named in the All-SEABL team in both 2016 and 2018. Playing for the Eastern Mavericks in the Adelaide Premier League in 2017 Wilson averaged 26.9 points and 11.0 rebounds per game, won the league’s Most Valuable Player (MVP) Award and was named in the All-Star Five. After being out for five months with her knee injury Wilson made her return in Victoria in April 2019 with Diamond Valley Eagles during the 2019 NBL1 (now NBL1 South) season.

During the 2019/20 regular season playing for the Sydney Uni Flames Wilson made 34 three-pointers, ranked equal 8th in the WNBL. In the 2020 Hub season playing for Adelaide Lightning Wilson averaged 11.3 points, 4.3 assists (equal fifth in the WNBL) and 2.0 three-pointers made (equal fifth in the WNBL).

Wilson joined Bendigo Spirit after the 2021/22 WNBL season commenced. Playing 12 games for Bendigo in 2021/22 Wilson averaged 8.8 points and 2.6 assists per game.

Alex Wilson playing for Bendigo Spirit against the Melbourne Boomers at Melbourne Sports Centres Parkville on 6 March 2022

Wilson had been on the fringe of Australian selection, having been named in Australian Opals squads  including for the 2021 FIBA Asia Cup and in addition to attending Opals training camps had also been part of Australia’s 3×3 squad. In July 2022 Wilson was able to represent Australia in 3×3 basketball at the 2022 Commonwealth Games held in Birmingham. The Australian 3×3 team comprised of Wilson, Perth centre Lauren Scherf and Adelaide Lightning duo Marena Whittle and Lauren Mansfield won the bronze medal.

Wilson played her second consecutive season with the Norwood Flames in the NBL1 Central Conference in 2022. Wilson played 15 games for Norwood and averaged 19.7 points, 8.9 rebounds, 7.0 assists and 2.7 steals per game. Wilson ranked led the NBL1 Central conference for assists per game, ranked second for steals and ninth in scoring.

During the 2022/23 Cygnett WNBL season Wilson is playing her second consecutive WNBL season with Bendigo Spirit. In Bendigo’s 68-66 road victory against Townsville Fire on 2 December Wilson made four of eight three-pointers at an accuracy of 50% and scored 16 points. In Bendigo’s 77-60 victory against Sydney Flames at Red Energy Arena on 4 December Wilson made a game-high seven assists. Wilson has played all six games for Bendigo in 2022/23 and is averaging 10.7 points, 3.2 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 27.4 minutes court-time per game. Wilson has made 12 of 30 three-pointers at an accuracy of 40% and ranks equal 10th in the league with 2.0 three-pointers made per game.

Alex Wilson playing for Bendigo Spirit in their pre-season game against Southside Flyers at Dandenong Stadium on 22 October 2022

WNBL Achievements:    Betty Watson Rookie of the Year 2013/14

WNBL Championship 2014/15 (with Townsville Fire), 2016/17 (with Sydney Uni Flames)

Kelly Wilson

#22                                             Position: Guard   

DOB  1 January 1984                Height 170cm                   

Junior Club                                Leongatha Lightning (Victoria)     

WNBL debut: 2002/03              WNBL games played: 416

Nationality                                 Australian

The WNBL’s all-time games record holder Kelly Wilson returned to Bendigo Spirit to play her 10th season with the club in the 2022/23 Cygnett WNBL season. Wilson told wnbl.basketball I’m excited to be back representing my hometown of Bendigo and country Victoria. To be able to play in front of my family, friends and Bendigo Spirit fans again makes me very happy and I would like to thank the new ownership group SEN and Coach Kennedy Kereama for offering me the opportunity to return. Kennedy has put together a great group of girls and we are going to do our very best to bring the WNBL championship back to Bendigo.”22

Kelly Wilson was born in Melbourne and grew up in the Victorian country town of Leongatha, which is located in Gippsland, approximately 135 kilometres south-east of Melbourne. Kelly has a sister Andrea who is 11 months younger and has been a teammate of Kelly’s at junior level, in the WNBL with Bendigo Spirit and at State League level with the Bendigo Lady Braves in the SEABL (South East Australian Basketball League) and NBL1.

Kelly and Andrea Wilson played their junior basketball at the Leongatha Basketball Association. The Kelly Wilson Award is presented to the most promising junior player at the Leongatha Basketball Association with one player each nominated from the under 16 girls, under 16 boys, under 18 girls and under 18 boys.

At national championships Wilson represented Victoria Country between 1999 and 2002. Wilson was a member of Victoria’s gold medal winning team at the under 20 national championships in 2002 and 2003 and won the R.E Staunton Medal as the most valuable player at the 2003 tournament. In 2003 Wilson represented Australia at the FIBA Young Women’s World Championship held in Sibenik, Croatia from 25 July to 3 August, Australia finished fifth at the tournament.

In 2002/03 Wilson made her WNBL debut with the AIS and averaged 9.0 points, 4.4 rebounds, 2.6 assists and 1.3 steals per game. Wilson won the league’s 2002/03 Betty Watson Rookie of the Year Award.

Wilson played two seasons for Sydney Flames in 2003/04 followed by three seasons for Townsville Fire from 2005/06 to 2007/08, averaging more than 10.5 points per game in the first and third seasons of this stint with Townsville.

In early 2007 a team based in country Victoria, Bendigo Spirit were granted a license to join the WNBL. Kelly’s younger sister Andrea made her WNBL debut with Bendigo Spirit in the club’s inaugural 2007/08 season. Kelly joined Andrea at Bendigo Spirit for the club’s second WNBL season and played eight consecutive seasons for the club from 2008/09 to 2015/16. Kelly and Andrea Wilson’s teammates at Bendigo Spirit in 2008/09 included Kristi Harrower and Gabe Richards. Bendigo Spirit made the WNBL finals for the first time in 2008/09. In 2009/10 Canadian import forward Chelsea Aubrey joined Bendigo Spirit and the following season the club recorded their first finals victory, defeating Logan 74-53 in a 2010/11 semi final.

After receiving a phone call from Chelsea Aubrey, forward Griffin joined Bendigo a third of the way into the 2012/13 WNBL season as the Sprit’s second import. Griffin fitted seamlessly into an extremely strong Bendigo starting line-up with fellow front-court payers Richards and Aubrey alongside guards Wilson and Harrower. Bendigo finished on top of the WNBL ladder at the end of the 2012/13 regular season with 21 wins and three losses. In a semi final against Dandenong Rangers at Bendigo Stadium the Spirit trailed Dandenong by 10 points at half-time, 34-44. During the third quarter Wilson made four three-pointers to gain the ascendancy for Bendigo who outscored Dandenong 24-9 for the quarter and went on to win 78-71 to qualify for their first WNBL Grand Final. All of Wilson’s shot attempts for the semi final were from long range and she was very effective as a spot-up three-pointer shooter, scoring a game-high 21 points, making seven of 14 three-pointers at an accuracy of 50% and made a game-high three steals. On 10 March, 2013 Bendigo Spirit defeated Townsville Fire 71-57 in the Grand Final at Bendigo Stadium to win the Spirit’s first WNBL championship in the club’s sixth season. During the 2012/13 WNBL season Wilson made 1.9 three-pointers per game – ranked third in the WNBL.

Kelly Wilson (number 22) lining up with her Bendigo Spirit team-mates before the 2012/12 Grand Final against Townsville Fire at Bendigo Stadium on 10 March 2013

Bendigo won the minor premiership for the second season in a row in 2013/14, having a regular season record of 22 wins and two losses, six games ahead of the second placed Dandenong Rangers and Townsville Fire in third position. Bendigo defeated Townsville by 11 points in the Grand Final to win back to back WNBL championships. During 2013/14 Wilson set a new career-high of 4.0 assists per game, surpassing her previous best of 2.7 assists per game in 2012/13. Wilson also had the most accurate shooting season of her WNBL career in 2013/14, having a three-point accuracy of 42.5% and a field goal accuracy of 42.9%. Wilson made 31 of 78 three-pointers and among players that at least 15 three-pointers for the season ranked fourth for accuracy.

In the 2014/15 regular season Bendigo had 15 wins and seven losses to finish second on the ladder two wins behind Townsville Fire. Wilson was phenomenal in Bendigo’s 85-78 victory at home in a preliminary final against Sydney, scoring a game-high 32 points at a field goal accuracy of 57% and was even more damaging from long range, making five of eight three-pointers at an accuracy of 62% in a match-winning performance. Wilson also made all seven free-throws and had five assists – ranked second at Bendigo behind Griffin with six. The second ranked players in the game scored 17 points each and Wilson made more three-pointers than all other players in the game combined, five to four which highlights just how dominant Kelly was in a sublime shooting exhibition. Townsville defeated Bendigo in the Grand Final 75-65.

Wilson played her 300th WNBL game in December 2015. In 2015/16 Wilson played 24 games for Bendigo Spirit and averaged 11.4 points and 5.5 rebounds per game to set new career-highs in both categories. In eight seasons For Bendigo from 2008/09 to 2015/16 Wilson averaged more than 8.0 points in a game in seven seasons. 

Kelly Wilson playing for Bendigo Spirit against the Melbourne Boomers on 21 November 2015 at the State Basketball Centre

Wilson returned to Townsville Fire for a second stint commencing in 2016/17. Due to a fractured ankle suffered during a Round 5 game in November 2016 Wilson missed over a month and a half of training and made her WNBL return in January 2017. In a home game for Townsville Fire against the Dandenong Rangers in Round 18 Wilson played brilliantly to score 16 points, take nine rebounds, made a game-high seven assists, shot the ball at 66% from the field and made no turnovers in 30 minutes court-time. For her superb performance in Townsville’s victory Wilson was named the WNBL’s Round 18 Player of the week. Townsville finished in fourth position at the end of the 2016/17 WNBL regular seasons and were defeated in the semi finals by minor premiers Sydney Flames two games to nil. Wilson ranked equal fourth in the WNBL with 4.4 assists per game.

Townsville finished the 2017/18 regular season third on the ladder with a record of 14 wins and seven losses, level with second placed Sydney Uni Flames and one game behind minor premiers the Perth LynxTownsville won the semi final series against Sydney two games to nil to progress to the Grand Final. The second game of the semi final series was Wilson’s 100th game for Townsville Fire – becoming the 10th player in the club’s history to reach this milestone.

In the Grand Final series against Melbourne Boomers Wilson was a member of Townsville Fire’s starting line-up along with Mia Murray, Sydney Wiese, Suzy Batkovic and Cayla George. Townsville defeated Melbourne two games to one in the Grand Final to win the 2017/18 WNBL Championship. In game 3 of the 2017/18 WNBL Grand Final Wilson played her 350th WNBL game, becoming the ninth player in league history to reach this milestone. Wilson ranked equal seventh in the WNBL with 4.7 assists per game.

Wilson joined the University of Canberra Capitals for the 2018/19 WNBL season, with the opportunity to once again be teammates with Kelsey Griffin playing a role in the decision to join the Capitals. When the Capitals were at full strength during the 2018/19 season their starting line-up was Wilson, Leilani Mitchell, Canadian import Kia Nurse and co-captain’s Griffin and Mariana Tolo. In Canberra’s the opening game of the 2018/19 season and Wilson was only one point and two rebounds shy of a triple double in the 97-78 road victory against Sydney Flames at Brydens Arena, scoring nine points, took a game-high eight rebounds, made a game-high 11 assists and had an equal game-high three steals.

The University of Canberra Capitals started the season strongly and continued with their momentum to record 16 wins and five losses during the 2018/19 regular season to finish on top of the ladder. The Capitals defeated Adelaide two games to one to win in the Grand Final series and win the 2018/19 WNBL Championship. Wilson played 26 games for the Capitals in 2018/19 and averaged 8.0 points, 4.5 rebounds, 6.2 assists and 1.4 steals per game. In WNBL season 17 Wilson set a new career-high for rebounds and assists per game.

Kelly Wilson playing for the University of Canberra Capitals against the Dandenong Rangers on 30 December 2018 at Dandenong Stadium

For the 2019/20 WNBL season Wilson returned to Bendigo Spirit and was appointed the Spirit’s co-captain along with fellow guard Tessa Lavey. On 21 December 2019 Wilson played her 200th game for Bendigo Spirit against the University of Canberra Capitals at the National Convention Centre. t was a big summer for milestones as on 24 January 2020 against Perth Lynx Wilson played her 395th WNBL game in a home game for Bendigo Spirit at Bendigo Stadium, surpassing the previous WNBL record of 394 games set by Dandenong Rangers and University of Canberra Capitals shooting guard Jess Bibby. After breaking the WNBL’s games record Wilson told wnbl.basketball “I reflect on when I started out and was trying to break into the league. If someone had have said then I’d play this long, let alone reach the games record, I would’ve thought they were crazy. I look back at that kid who was so eager and enthusiastic about playing in the WNBL. I knew I’d played a lot of games but wasn’t really aware of the record. I still enjoy it and that’s why I’m still playing.”23 Wilson played 19 games for Bendigo in 2019/20 and averaged 8.4 points, 4.1 rebounds, 5.8 assists (ranked 2nd in the WNBL) and 1.3 steals per game.

Kelly Wilson shooting a jump shot or Bendigo Spirit against the Southside Flyers on 26 October 2019 at Traralgon Stadium

Wilson played 18 consecutive WNBL seasons from 2002/03 to 2019/20. Wilson missed the 2020 WNBL season as she was pregnant with her first child, son Teddy was born in February 2021.

At state league level Wilson has won a regular season Most Valuable Player Award three times, in the (South East Australian Basketball League) SEABL in 2009 with the Bendigo Lady Braves and in 2013 with the Knox Raiders as well as in the inaugural NBL1 season with Bendigo Lady Braves in 2019. Wilson played in two SEABL Championship winning teams, with Knox Raiders in 2013 and with the Bendigo Lady Braves in 2018.

Playing for the Bendigo Braves in the inaugural 2019 NBL1 season guard Kelly Wilson was exceptional, averaging 19.2 points, 6.4 rebounds, a phenomenal 10.5 assists and 1.9 steals per game. to win the league’s Most Valuable Player Award and the Golden Hands Award.  

In July 2021 Wilson made her basketball return with the Bendigo Lady Braves during the 2021 NBL1 South season.

A key reason that Wilson started playing basketball as a child is that she didn’t want to miss out on sharing experiences with her friends and this same reason is a factor in Wilson continuing to play in the WNBL, with one friend and teammate Kelsey Griffin being a driving influence. After signing with the University of Canberra Capitals for the 2021/22 season Wilson told WNBL Media “Kels has this power over me where she and (wife) Erin just plant the seed and I always take it. It’s a huge part of why I’m back here (in Canberra) again, I love playing with Kels. I enjoy playing basketball when I’m playing with her.”24

Against Bendigo Spirit in a home game at the National Convention Centre on 22 December 2021 Wilson scored 14 points for the Capitals, made 50% of field goal attempts, three of seven three-pointers and had a game-high 10 assists along with four rebounds and two steals in the Capitals 100-88 victory.

On 14 January 2022 Wilson created history by becoming the first player to reach 400 WNBL games. Wilson achieved this significant milestone in a Capitals home game against Sydney Flames.

In a video published by the University of Canberra Capitals on 4 January 2022 Wilson’s long-time teammate and friend Griffin was asked “What comes to mind when you hear the name Kelly Wilson?” Griffin responded “I suppose a lot of things come to mind but her work ethic is yeah unparalleled and I hold myself to a pretty high standard and then there is Kelly Wilson standard. But there is so much more to her, she is unassuming and she doesn’t speak out or say a lot but when you have time to stop and think and reflect on her career, like what she has achieved as a country kid coming out and doing what she’s done is just remarkable, it’s incredible but I suppose the first thing that I think of is yeah, Kelly’s work ethic, it is just something I have never seen before.”

Below is a link to an article published on Milestones and Misses celebrating Kelly Wilson reaching 400 WNBL games:

The University of Canberra Capitals finished third at the end of the 2021/22 regular season and were defeated in a semi final by Perth Lynx. Wilson played 16 games for the Capitals, all as the starting point guard and averaged 6.6 points, 3.8 rebounds, 5.4 assists (2nd in the WNBL) and 1.8 steals (equal 6th in the WNBL) per game.

Kelly Wilson playing for University of Canberra Capitals against Perth Lynx at Selkirk Stadium in Ballarat on 19 January 2022

Playing for the Bendigo Braves Wilson won the 2022 NBL1 South Golden Hands Award. Including finals Wilson had at least five assists 19 times from 24 games during the 2022 NBL1 South season including four double-doubles, scoring at least 10 points and having at least 10 assists in this quartet of games. On July 23 and 24 Wilson registered double-doubles on consecutive days in Round 13, falling one rebound short of reaching a triple double in the Bendigo Braves opening game of the weekend against the Nunawading Spectres at Nunawading Stadium on 23 July. Against the Spectres Wilson scored 10 points, made 12 assists and took nine rebounds in an 82-70 victory. The following day in a Bendigo home game at Red Energy Arena Wilson scored 18 points with a field goal accuracy of 70%, had 13 assists and three steals in the Braves 111-81 victory against the Hobart Chargers.

The Bendigo Braves had 20 wins and two losses during the 2022 NBL1 South regular season to win the minor premiership, two wins ahead of the Ringwood Hawks. In the Grand Final Bendigo lost to Ringwood 73-89. Wilson played 24 games for the Bendigo Braves and averaged 13.5 points, 5.5 rebounds, 7.5 assists and 2.2 steals per game. Wilson led the conference in assists per game and ranked ninth for steals.

Kelly Wilson playing for Bendigo Braves against the Ringwood Hawks in the 2022 NBL1 South Grand Final on 3 September 2022 at the State Basketball Centre

Bendigo Spirit announced on 30 September 2022 that Wilson had signed with the club for the 2022/23 Cygnett WNBL season. Bendigo Spirit Head Coach Kennedy Kereama told WNBL Media “I’m so happy that we have been able to bring Kelly back home for the upcoming WNBL season. Kel ticks so many boxes for us as a program, her incredible basketball IQ, her leadership skills, her talent, she is always in peak condition and leads by example in so many ways. As a club and program that has championship ambitions, you need players with championship experience to help lead the way. She has championship-winning and playing experience which is incredibly beneficial to us a group, and best of all, she is a homegrown regional Victorian!”25

Kelly Wilson playing for Bendigo Spirit in a pre-season game against Southside Flyers at Dandenong Stadium on 22 October 2022

Wilson has played five of Bendigo’s first six games of the season, having missed the Round 4 road game against Townsville due to an ankle injury. In Bendigo’s opening game of the season against former team the University of Canberra Capitals in a road game at the National Convention Centre on 4 November Wilson made four of five field goal attempts at an accuracy of 80%, scored eight points, made a game-high nine assists and an equal game-high three steals in Bendigo’s 105-85 win.  Wilson has started all five games she has played for Bendigo in 2022/23 and is averaging 5.6 points, 2.6 rebounds, 6.2 assists (ranked 2nd in the WNBL), 1.2 steals and 31.9 minutes per game.

WNBL Achievements:             WNBL Betty Watson Rookie of the Year Award 2003 

WNBL Championship 2012/13, 2013/14 (with Bendigo Spirit), 2017/18 (with Townsville Fire), 2018/19 (with Canberra Capitals)

                                                WNBL All-time games record holder    

Kennedy Kereama           Head Coach

Bendigo Spirit announced on 24 May that Kennedy Kereama had been appointed the club’s coach for the 2022/23 WNBL season. Kereama has extensive experience as a Head coach and Assistant Coach in the WNBL and of the New Zealand National women’s team, the Tall Ferns. Kereama was Assistant Coach of the University of Canberra Capitals in 2021/22 and also had four games as the club’s caretaker head coach during the season.

After being appointed Bendigo Spirit’s Head Coach Kereama told WNBL Media For myself, my new role is about giving the Bendigo athletes and the community as much as I possibly can to help grow the game and for the players to realise their ambitions. We want to be a team that competes for championships and to be a contender every year. I am really appreciative of the opportunity to work with the new SEN ownership group and to be based out here at Bendigo at the Red Energy Arena. What attracted me to the role the most was the opportunity to come in and work with such outstanding athletes.”26

Kennedy Kereama providing instructions to Megan McKay during Bendigo Spirit’s pre-season game against Southside Flyers at Dandenong Stadium on 22 October 2022

During the 2007/08 WNBL season Kereama was an Assistant Coach of the Christchurch Sirens. At State League level Kereama gained experience as a Head Coach in the South East Australian Basketball League (SEABL) with the Border Bandits in 2009 and 2010 and Sandringham Sabres in 2011.

For WNBL club the West Coast Waves (now known as Perth Lynx) Kereama was Head Coach and Development Officer for three seasons from 2012/13 to 2014/15. Current Bendigo Spirit player Megan McKay was a member of the West Coast Waves Development Academy whist Kereama was the club’s Head Coach.

Kereama was an Assistant Coach of the New Zealand Tall Ferns for 2008 and 2009 followed by an eight year stint as the Tall Ferns Head Coach from 2010 to 2017. In each odd numbered year from 2009 to 2015 the Tall Ferns competed in the Oceania Championship for Women which was a head to head two or three game series against the Australian Opals. In the 2009, 2011, 2013 and 2015 the Tall Ferns finished runner-up in the Oceania Championships to the Australian Opals. In the 2015 series Kereama coached against two current Bendigo guards, Kelly Wilson and Tessa Lavey, Wilson also played in the 2013 series.

With Kereama as Head Coach at the 2017 FIBA Asia Cup held in India the New Zealand Tall Ferns defeated Chinese Taipei in a group game and Korea in a classification game. In New Zealand’s second classification game they were defeated by Chinese Taipei and finished the 2017 Asia Cup sixth out of eight nations.

At Big V level Kereama had a very successful stint as Head Coach of the Sunbury Jets Women’s team with the Jets being Big V Division One Champions in 2016 and Big V State Championship winners in 2017 and 2018. Kereama was named the Big V Coach of the Year for State Championship Women in 2017 and 2019.

In between being Head Coach of the West Coast Waves in the WNBL from 2012/13 to 2014/15 and being the Head Coach of Bendigo Spirit for the 2022/23 Cygnett WNBL season Kereama has been an Assistant Coach in the WNBL with Dandenong Rangers (2017/18), Melbourne Boomers (2018/19) and University of Canberra Capitals (2021/22). At the Capitals in 2021/22 Kereama had four games as the caretaker Head Coach. Three of the Capitals players from last season have joined the Bendigo Spirit – Kelly Wilson, Kelsey Griffin and Alicia Froling.

Kennedy Kereama speaking to the University of Canberra Capitals team during their game against Perth Lynx at Selkirk Stadium in Ballarat on 19 January 2022 when he was the caretaker Head Coach

The Knox Raiders appointed Kereamaas the Head Coach of their NBL1 Women’s team in October 2019. Due to COVID-19 the 2020 NBL1 South season was cancelled and the 2021 South NBL1 season was unable to be completed.

In the past three NBL1 seasons from 2020 to 2022 Kereama was the Head Coach of the Knox Raiders Women’s team. Alicia Froling joined Knox for the 2022 NBL1 South season and won the league’s Most Valuable Player Award. Knox finished sixth at the end of the regular season and were defeated by Waverley Falcons in an elimination final.

Reflecting on his time at Knox Kereama told wnbl.basketball I’ve had three good years at Knox, with two of them brought short by COVID. Despite the interrupted season, they were really good times. To be honest, there was always the desire to be able to work with WNBL calibre players, and it was just a chance to get challenged on a weekly basis with very good players across the board and against very good coaches in NBL1 – many of them that are or very close to being WNBL coaches in their own right. It was a very critical opportunity for me and helped put me in the right place. It was always the plan that I would stay in place [at Knox] until a WNBL opportunity came up, and it was always the plan to get Jess May in the head coaching role as part of a succession plan. You talk about coaches who are ready, and she is one that is ready to step up! I’m thankful that I have played a part to set up the [Knox] program for future continued success.”27

Article and photographs by Dean Andrews

Twitter – @DeanAndrews7777

References

1 https://wnbl.basketball/bendigo/news/bendigo-spirit-future-locked-in-for-another-10-years-sen-to-acquire-licence/

2 https://wnbl.basketball/bendigo/news/bendigo-spirit-future-locked-in-for-another-10-years-sen-to-acquire-licence/

3 https://wnbl.basketball/blog/news/renewed-spirit-kennedy-kereamas-career-has-come-full-circle/

4 https://wnbl.basketball/bendigo/news/dunlop-a-shoo-in-for-spirit/

5 https://wnbl.basketball/bendigo/news/piper-dunlop-re-signs-with-the-spirit/

6 https://smumustangs.com/sports/womens-basketball/roster/alicia-froling/8320

https://wnbl.basketball/bendigo/news/alicia-froling-returns-to-bendigo/

8 https://wnbl.basketball/bendigo/news/kelsey-griffin-back-to-where-it-all-began-with-bendigo-spirit/

9 https://huskers.com/sports/womens-basketball/roster/kelsey-griffin/4274

10 https://wnbl.basketball/bendigo/news/kelsey-griffin-back-to-where-it-all-began-with-bendigo-spirit/

11 https://wnbl.basketball/bendigo/news/tessa-lavey-re-signs-with-bendigo/

12 https://wnbl.basketball/bendigo/news/tessa-lavey-is-living-the-dual-sport-athlete-dream/

13 https://wnbl.basketball/bendigo/news/bendigo-adds-experience-and-youth-to-the-roster/

14 https://wnbl.basketball/bendigo/news/spirit-signs-another-star/

15 https://www.bendigoadvertiser.com.au/story/7236886/wnbl-rebounding-machine-anneli-maley-signs-with-bendigo-spirit/

16  https://wnbl.basketball/bendigo/news/megan-mckay-re-signs-with-spirit/

17 https://smcgaels.com/sports/womens-basketball/roster/megan-mckay/372

18 https://wnbl.basketball/bendigo/news/megan-mckay-re-signs-with-spirit/

19 https://wnbl.basketball/bendigo/news/bendigo-adds-experience-and-youth-to-the-roster/

20 Abbey Wehrung Returns to Spirit – Bendigo Spirit (wnbl.basketball)

21 Abbey Wehrung Returns to Spirit – Bendigo Spirit (wnbl.basketball)

12 https://wnbl.basketball/bendigo/news/kelly-wilson-is-coming-home/

23  https://wnbl.basketball/blog/news/kelly-wilson-games-played-record/

24 https://wnbl.basketball/blog/news/games-record-holder-kelly-wilson-returns-for-round-1/

25 https://wnbl.basketball/bendigo/news/kelly-wilson-is-coming-home/

26 https://wnbl.basketball/bendigo/news/bendigo-spirit-appoint-kennedy-kereama-as-coach-as-team-enters-new-era/

27 https://wnbl.basketball/blog/news/renewed-spirit-kennedy-kereamas-career-has-come-full-circle/

Milestones and Misses

Milestones and Misses publishes articles to celebrate the achievements of sportspeople, mainly in the Women’s National Basketball League (WNBL) and Australian Rules Football (AFL and AFLW). In sport as with life in general it is common that milestones are only achieved after overcoming adversity, so whilst the articles on the Milestones and Misses website celebrate sportspeople achieving milestones they also cover the misses along the journey such as a player having minimal game-time or spending a prolonged period on the sidelines due to injury. The aim of the articles is to enable readers to gain a greater appreciation of the journey sportspeople have had during their career.

A link to Milestones and Misses homepage and WNBL category is below:

https://milestonesandmisses.com/

https://milestonesandmisses.com/category/wnbl/

The Milestones and Misses website was set up in December 2015. From 2020 onwards articles have been published on the following sportspeople:

WNBL

Sami Whitcomb

Abbey Wehrung

Penny Taylor

Rachel Jarry

Steph Reid

Kristy Wallace

Anneli Maley

Lindsay Allen

Jade Melbourne

Maddison Rocci

Cayla George

Kelly Wilson

Steph Talbot

Bec Cole

Aimie Rocci

Abby Bishop

Tessa Lavey

Ezi Magbegor

Zitina Aokuso

Leilani Mitchell

Maddie Garrick

Sara Blicavs

NBL

Nathan Sobey

AFLW

Ashleigh Riddell

Hayley Miller

Darcy Vescio

Tessa Lavey

Georgia Patrikios

Alyce Parker

Tyla Hanks

Tyanna Smith

Tarni White

Caitlin Greiser

AFL

Lance ‘Buddy’ Franklin

Nicky Winmar

Sam Walsh

Jack Steele

Luke Jackson

Harry McKay

Seb Ross

Jayden Short

Clayton Oliver

Lenny Hayes

Tim Membrey

Rowan Marshall

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