Echuca basketballer Jane Chalmers is having a great year after winning a WNBL title and a runner-up spot in the SEABL in the past six months.By Geordie Cowan
Echuca’s Jane Chalmers has barely had a break from basketball in the past 18 months — but her efforts have been rewarded.
After winning the Women’s National Basketball League title with the Bendigo Spirit in March, Chalmers was again in finals action with the Bendigo Lady Braves this month.
The team won the eastern conference of the South East Australian Basketball League before falling in the state-wide grand final against Knox two weeks ago.
But Chalmers has had no time to rest on her laurels, with a pre-season match against China tonight, before the start of the new WNBL season in Townsville next Friday.
‘‘It’s easier to play 18 months in a row in a winning side,’’ she said.
‘‘I’m certainly looking forward to the Christmas break where I can have four or five days off.
‘‘But you can only play for so long.
‘‘You’re in it to win it while you can.’’
Chalmers, who captained the Lady Braves after co-captaining last year, said reaching the competition grand final was a great result for the team.
‘‘We probably did well for what we had most of the year,’’ she said.
‘‘We had our talls out all season.
‘‘So to come from where we were and what we worked with, it was a great effort.’’
The Lady Braves finished on top of the ladder in the eastern conference at the end of the season, before defeating Sandringham 62-49 in the final.
The team did well to triumph after only scoring 17 points in the first half with a 20 per cent accuracy from field goal attempts.
The Lady Braves came back to outscore the Sabres 45-20 in the second half to secure the win in what was an even team effort.
The following week the team played Knox for the SEABL title, with Chalmers coming up against Spirit teammates Kelly Wilson and Gabe Richards.
Knox capped off a dominant season with an 82-61 win after establishing a double-figure lead in the first quarter.
‘In the end our lack of size was probably telling,’’ Chalmers said.
‘‘Once they got on a roll, we couldn’t do anything to stop them.
‘‘There were too many mismatches.’’
Despite that disappointment, the captain said it was still a rewarding season for the team after ‘‘a lot of people tipped against us’’.
The 30-year-old said she enjoyed captaining the team, but said it was a role any number of players could fill.
‘‘There are so many veterans,’’ Chalmers said.
‘‘We’ve been a core group for such a long time.’’
Chalmers, who has played 233 games for the Lady Braves, also enjoyed another consistent season at point guard.
Playing in 26 of the 30 games, Chalmers spent the third-most minutes on court for the team, scored 179 points and racked up the most personal fouls.
‘‘My game doesn’t show up a lot in stats, but I certainly think I offered a lot to our team this year,’’ she said.
‘‘It’s not all stats, but I base my game on a lot of one per cent plays and things like that.’’
With Spirit pre-season training starting two weeks before the SEABL competition finished, Chalmers is now looking forward to the new WNBL season and the game against China today.
‘‘I was injured last year when we played them,’’ she said.
‘‘It was certainly a physical and fast game and I expect nothing less this year.’’
Chalmers said she was greatly looking forward to the experience of taking on the eighth-best team in the world, which is led by legendary WNBL and Australian Opals coach Tom Maher.
‘‘Whether you can get zero minutes, one minute or 10 minutes, it will be great,’’ she said.
‘‘It will be great playing against some of the world’s best.
‘‘It will certainly be a different experience court side, but certainly one you’d like to take.’’
Chalmers said the Spirit would play to win as they prepared for the coming season.
The match starts at 7pm at the Bendigo stadium.
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