The Newcastle Hunters have been crowned Waratah Basketball League women’s champions, after sweeping aside the Canberra Nationals 86-61 in the title-decider at Breakers Indoor Sports Stadium in Terrigal on Sunday afternoon.
Club captain Jaimee Seebohm was electric in the grand final as she scored 11 points, seven rebounds, five assists, and added three steals to her statline to be named the game’s most valuable player. She was one of five Hunters to hit double figures.
Alison Ebzery – a mid-season recruit for Shannon Seebohm’s now premiership and championship victors – clocked a game-high 20 points off the bench as she rampaged through the Nationals’ defence. She also scored seven rebounds.
The Hunters shot out to an early lead, taking a 24-11 advantage into the first-quarter break. An early three-pointer for Hannah Young shut down any chance Canberra had to find their feet in the second, and the Hunters soared to 55-21.
The Nationals were able to find their feet in the second half, with league MVP Keely Froling guiding Canberra back to their 25-point deficit. In the end, however, Newcastle’s landslide win was five-times bigger than their 2016 championship margin.
Young (17 points), Jasmin Howe (14 points), and Lara McSpadden (11 points) all hit the double-digit mark in Terrigal. Gabriella Adams-Gavet starred defensively with five rebounds, three steals, and two assists.
For coach and captain duo Shannon and Jaimee, there won’t be many better farewells. The Seebohms are departing Newcastle as Shannon takes up a head coaching role with the Townsville Fire in the Women’s National Basketball League.
“We had our best game of the season in the final, it was perfect. We had a great game against Hornsby on Saturday and that’s a team that we’ve struggled against in recent years,” Seebohm told the Women’s Chronicle after the victory.
“I think it’s a perfect finish for Jaimee and me, we’ve loved our time here in Newcastle and we’ve had a really enjoyable year with the team. I’m happy for everyone that we could finish it off the way that we did.
Read more recent news
- Newcastle reigns supreme at ANZ Stadium in thrilling state premiership decider
- Jets return in doubt for Emily van Egmond following season-ending surgery
- Maddi Mueller looking to give back to Lakeside stars with new netball lessons
“Even better, we had a great season and just a few hiccups at the end, and we were able to right those wrongs. We lost to Hornsby and Canberra, in that order, and then beat them in the semi and the final. I couldn’t have written it any better myself.”
Jaimee Seebohm echoed Shannon’s sentiment to the Newcastle Herald after the match.
The club captain said she was going to miss Newcastle, and the league, after announcing her professional retirement following the title win.
“It’s not awesome that we’re leaving, but it’s so awesome to go out on a high like this,” said Jaimee after the 25-point victory. “Thanks Newcastle for the good times, and for the great memories. See you later!”
The Hunters’ now-championship winning coach Seebohm also said he has high hopes for Newcastle into the future. Although he and Jaimee are heading north with a new coaching opportunity, Seebohm believes the Hunters can continue their dominance.
“There are great players in this region, and one of the things I tried to do was to build up the whole area. I’m hoping the girls will stick around and keep what we’ve started going, there’s such a strong women’s program here,” said Seebohm.
“The future is really bright, and hopefully the team can keep forging forwards on the path that we’ve built here. There’s a lot of momentum with the championship, and if the team can retain the local stars there’s no doubt they can win it again.”
The Hunters qualified for the Sunday title fight with a 77-53 revenge win over the Hornsby Spiders on Saturday afternoon. Newcastle kick-started the win with a 43-24 lead at half-time in Terrigal.
Also on Sunday, the Hunters clinched the youth women’s championship with a four-point victory over the North Bears. Chyra Evans was named most valuable player.
The 2019 Women’s National Basketball League, the 40th since the competition was founded, is set to begin in October. The Waratah League returns March 2020.