In front of a crowd of just under 5,000 the Australian Women’s National Basketball League (WNBL) Grand Final Series concluded on Saturday night with Canberra Capitals clinching the best-of-three series 2-1 with a 93-73 victory in Canberra against Penina Davidson and the Adelaide Lightning.
Canberra had comfortably won the opening game 88-67 on its home court but the Lightning bounced back in stirring fashion closing out a nail-biter 74-73. Nicole Seekamp scored with a buzzer beater in front of 3,700 ecstatic fans at the Titanium Security Arena in Adelaide on Wednesday night to force a deciding game in Canberra.
The winning basket on Wednesday wasn’t without controversy as the referees missed a clear double dribble as the ball was dribbled up court and there was grave doubt as to whether Seekamp got off her winning shot before the final siren sounded.
Davidson, in her first season as a professional since graduating from the University of California Berkeley in 2018, produced a nice cameo performance off the bench in game two posting 4 points, 4 rebounds, 2 steals and a block.
Despite being beaten in the finals series the Tall Ferns forward has relished her rookie season in Adelaide.
“Making the Grand Final has definitely been a highlight and I couldn’t have asked for much more from my first professional contract.
“In the semi-final game against Melbourne we had a decent turnout which made the occasion even better. In the home leg of the final we attracted a crowd of all most 4,000 which was awesome considering the game was broadcast live on TV.”
Adelaide, coached by former Tall Ferns assistant coach Chris Lucas returned to the play-offs for the first time since 2013.
“I really liked how Chris recruited this season. He told me early on that he made an emphasis of trying to get the best teammates on and off the court. The girls all get along so well it has made this whole first season really cool.”
Also assisting Davidson transition into the professional game has been fellow Tall Fern Jordan Hunter who is based in Adelaide.
“Living with Jordy has been like home away from home. It’s been a blessing and has been the best living situation I have had since leaving home. I feel sorry for her living with me,” mused the Tall Ferns forward.
The Adelaide experience has wetted Davidson’s appetite to widen her playing experience both overseas and in New Zealand.
“I love travelling around the world but I’m also extremely excited to come home and play for Harbour Breeze in the New Zealand Women’s Basketball Championship (WBC).
The other Tall Ferns that played in the WNBL this season were Kalani Purcell (Melbourne Boomers), Toni Farnworth (Perth Lynx), Stella Beck and Micaela Cocks (both Townsville Fire).
Both Purcell and Farnworth exited at the semi-finals stage of the competition.
Purcell, in her second season with the Boomers, led the team in steals (1.4spg) and was second in rebounding averaging 5.3 boards per game.
Toni Farnworth, like Purcell a Commonwealth Games silver medalist, was appearing in a fourth straight semi-final with the Lynx but bowed out against Canberra.
The Perth co-captain has played over 150 games for the Lynx (just the sixth player to reach that milestone) and 245 games in total in the WNBL since debuting in the league for the Christchurch Sirens back in 2007.
The Townsville Fire duo of Stella Beck and Micaela Cocks finished the season with a 10-12 record and fifth spot on the WNBL ladder. Beck, like Davidson playing her rookie season as a professional, demonstrated her potential by scoring 10 points to accompany 5 assists, 2 rebounds and 2 steals in the Fire’s final game of the season against Sydney.
Micaela Cocks, who became just the second player to chalk up 200 games for the Townsville Fire during the season, won the club’s Players’ Player award for a record-breaking fourth time at the Fire’s Awards recently.
Remarkably, the Players’ Player trophy was the eighth club award the Olympian has won during her eight seasons at the Fire. Cocks sits inside the club’s top-10 for points (4th), rebounds (10th), assists (3rd), , steals (8th) and three-point makes (1st).
Cock’s received a further accolade at the Awards night when she was awarded a Townsville Fire life membership.
The 2019 WBC season begins in May and the next Tall Ferns assignment is likely to be a training camp in April.