Basketball the Winner

Basketball the Winner

Since the demise of the Brisbane Bullets, basketball sadly has taken a back seat to the other major sports. That was until Sunday night when over 800 people packed into the Rowland Cowan Stadium at the Clem Jones Youth Centre to watch the newest sporting teams in town the Brisbane Spartans and the Brisbane Lady Spartans.

Both teams compete in the South East Australian Basketball League, recognised by the basketball community as the highest standard basketball, a small step down from the NBL and WNBL, in the winter months, the traditional time for the sport.

The Carina Leagues Club Lady Spartans played the Bendigo Lady Braves for the right to compete in the SEABL Grand Final next Saturday night in Melbourne against powerhouse the Knox Lady Raiders.

In one of the highest standard games for women’s basketball, played in Queensland for many years, the Lady Spartans under the direction of Donna Rinaldi powered away in the last quarter to win 67-57 led by Kate Willey. She was not alone though with Australian Opal Emma Randall doing the hard work on the boards along with Rebecca Shatz and the ever reliable Shona O’Bree.

Made up of players that have come through the juniors ranks with Australian Opal, Emma Randall thrown in for good measure, the Lady Spartans are Queensland’s most successful women’s basketball program, dominating the State League prior to making the jump to the higher competition three years ago.

Within the men’s program the Brisbane Spartans have no fewer then five NBL players with former NBL and Australian coach, Bruce Palmer, heading the program.

With an army of supporters who all wear black the Spartans are recognised at local schools and supported by the local community where the players are very active. One of the biggest supporters of the program is Gold Coast Blaze owner, Owen Tomlinson, who regularly attends games with family and friends.

After heading the East Conference of SEABL for the entire year the Spartans earned the right to host the grand final, the first time it has ever been held in Queensland.

Sadly the Spartans were downed 92 to 87 by the Knox Raiders led by former Brisbane Bullet, Mick Hill, in the last few minutes after leading for most of the game. While the season may have come to an end for them what they have done is re-ignite the passion for the local community for basketball.

Basketball was the winner and those who were at the game will be back in 2010 as both the Lady Spartans and Spartans strive to promote basketball as the complete family sport.

Story courtesy of Southern Districts Basketball Association