Following the Tall Ferns Asia Cup campaign in India that ended in late July, Head Coach Kennedy Kereama and the Australian based members of the team immediately returned to club action.
For most that return has coincided with successful play-off campaigns in the various Australian State Leagues that have just concluded after commencing in March.
Kereama is Head Coach for the Sunbury Jets and with Tall Ferns’ Centre Josie Stockill a key player on that team, they fashioned a second consecutive championship in the Big V competition in Melbourne.
In 2016 Kereama guided Sunbury to the Big V Division 1 title and this season they have continued their winning ways clinching the Big V Championship in unique style.
“It feels great and even better knowing we went back-to-back and from one division to the next, which I have been told hasn’t been done here before,” said a jubilant Kereama after Sunbury had clinched a nail-biting 55-54 victory against Bulleen Boomers.
That win followed a 71-65 win against the Boomers seven days earlier and clinched a winning 2-0 margin in the best of three series.
“Obviously it is a great feeling for Josie (Stockill) and I to be a part of a championship winning team. Equally it is great to share it with some other kiwi players in Shea Crotty, Jess Slade and Rebecca Van Kuyk.”
Stockill played a significant role in the Grand Final series, totaling 32 points, 13 rebounds, 2 steals and 3 blocks over two games.
The Queensland Basketball League (QBL) Grand Final series featured no fewer than four Tall Ferns as Brisbane Spartans, including sisters Natalie Taylor and Kalani Purcell, who went head to head against Mackay Meteorettes with Micaela Cocks and Chevannah Paalvast running their backcourt.
As Sunbury did, Brisbane was able to wrap up the best of three series 2-0 winning 70-66 in Mackay before edging an even tighter contest at home 76-74 – just six points separating the two teams over 80 minutes of basketball.
Purcell came close to a double double in game one with 8 points and 9 rebounds as Brisbane held off the hosts whilst in game two Cocks (19 points and 8 rebounds) and Paalvast (13 points and 6 assists) did all they could to force the series into a deciding third game.
In Perth Toni Farnworth (nee Edmondson) was outstanding for Perry Lakes Hawks as they defeated Mundurah Magic 59-48 in the WA State League (SBL) Grand Final. Farnworth took out the Grand Final MVP award after a dominant 26 points haul. She shot 8 from 18 from the field, including 3 from 7 threes and also converted 7 of 8 free throws.
Remarkably it is the first championship Cantabrian Farnworth has won since moving to Australia, to pursue her professional career, in 2009.
Kereama reflected on the success the New Zealand national team players have had this season in Australia.
“I think it’s great to see so many of our Tall Ferns players making big contributions to State Championship winning teams around Australia. Kalani Purcell and Nat Taylor helped the Brisbane Spartans win a championship. It should also be noted that Micaela Cocks and Chevannah Palvaast where in the other team challenging for that title.
“Over in Perth Antonia Farnworth helped her Perry Lakes Hawks win a Championship in the SBL, which was a game I watched via livestream. Antonia was big down the stretch and showed her leadership qualities making some big baskets when needed. As the Tall Ferns coach, it makes you very proud to see our players making a big difference in these great State Leagues.”
In other news Tall Ferns forward Jillian Harmon spent time travelling in the Indian Himalayas before returning to Italy. Harmon recently announced that she has transferred from 2017 championship winning Le Mura Lucca to Napoli for the 2017-18 Italian League season that runs from October through to May.