Amelia Todhunter missed much of the season through injury while Sarah Parsons has been ever present.
But both players will be front and centre when Todhunter’s Dandenong Rangers take on Parsons’ Kilsyth Lady Cobras’ in the SEABL women’s Grand Final at Dandenong Stadium on Saturday night.
Todhunter has long been a fixture in the Rangers’ SEABL side under coach Larissa Anderson but a complicated knee problem saw her miss 13 weeks after the injury flared up early in the year.
Instead of choosing to have knee surgery, Todhunter rested and strengthened her knee before working at training to regain her game fitness.
“Then a week and a half after I returned I broke my finger but I’m playing through that injury,” Todhunter said.
“I was thinking I can’t do anything right this season.”
She returned in late July after a cautious recovery and credits her teammates for the Rangers’ successful campaign.
“We only lost two games while I was out - I’m so thankful we have such a deep team and had so many players who stepped up,” Todhunter said.
Todhunter showed her touch has returned in the team’s Semi-Final win over Geelong, scoring 17 points, and her knowledge of long time teammates Faith Probst, Clare Papavs, Alison Downie and Amanda Hobba will be important when they take on the Cobras.
Under Anderson, that group played a leading role in the Rangers' three-peat from 2010-2012.
As for Parsons, she has worked her way through 23 games this season for the Cobras and has not dropped below 24 minutes in any game.
Her poise and grit were essential parts of the Lady Cobras’ impressive Conference Final win over Bendigo Lady Braves with 20 points and 13 rebounds.
Parsons played in the Cobras’ 2008 championship side and has played in losing grand finals as well.
She said the leadership of coach Sam Woosnam and the camaraderie in the side were essential parts of their success.
“I’ve never had a team like it before in that everyone is chilled out and happy to be there for everybody else,” Parsons said.
“When Sam was away [to give birth to her first child] we needed to keep the energy going at training and keep pushing each other.
“That’s down to Sam’s recruiting, she picks players who don’t slack off.”
After playing in three previous Grand Finals, Parsons said she has learned to control her emotions and focusing on working hard would be crucial this weekend.
“Whatever happens is going to happen,” Parsons said.
“You might not have your best game but if you worry about boxing out, diving on loose balls and putting your body on the line then there is not much more that you can do.”
Friendships on both teams will be put to the side on Saturday night but both Todhunter and Parsons agree that once the game is done, friendly relations will resume.
In Todhunter’s case, she and Cobras’ guard Steph Cumming will become teammates next week when Rangers’ WNBL training resumes as they are both on the roster for his season.
“Someone like Steph has a lot of good friends on the Rangers’ team and I’ve played with Clare [Papavs] for many years,” Parsons said.
“When you hit the court you forget all that but once the siren goes you put the game behind you and have a chat at the post game function.
“There’s basketball and then there’s real life.”
*Dandenong star Jacinta Kennedy celebrated her comeback to the WNBL this coming season with 16 points and 14 rebounds in the Rangers’ win over Geelong.
*Rangers’ star Clare Papavs had 15 points and eight rebounds while Aimee Clydesdale added 13 points.
*Geelong’s Sara Blicavs had 13 points and seven rebounds while Anna Teague had 11 points.
*Kilsyth’s Sarah Parsons stood tall in her club’s win over Bendigo with 20 points, 13 rebounds, six assists, two steals and two blocks.
*Cobras’ teammate Steph Cumming had 21 points while Cassandra Sant added 18 points and 10 rebounds.
*Bendigo duo Kelly Wilson (26 points, eight rebounds, five assists) and Elyse Penaula (23 points, 14 rebounds, four steals, three blocks) led their side while Tessa Lavey had five steals of her own.
SEABL media links
*Dandenong Journal’s Jarrod Potter (@JarrodPotter) reports Dandenong Rangers’ stars Jacinta Kennedy and Amelia Todhunter both won places with the Rangers’ WNBL side for the upcoming season. Report: http://dandenong.starcommunity.com.au/journal/2015-09-06/dandenong-wnbl-gets-a-little-awesome/
*Potter also reports on the Rangers’ conference final win. Report: http://dandenong.starcommunity.com.au/journal/2015-09-05/dandys-four-on-the-floor/
*Geelong Advertiser reports on tough losses for both the men’s and women’s Supercats sides in conference finals. Report: http://www.geelongadvertiser.com.au/sport/local-sport/geelong-supercats-teams-both-come-up-short-in-conference-finals/story-fnjuhs0b-1227515102091
*Bendigo Advertiser reports on the Lady Braves’ loss to Kilsyth. Report: http://www.bendigoadvertiser.com.au/story/3330824/heartache-for-lady-braves/?cs=81
*Bendigo Advertiser also published this picture gallery from the game. Gallery: http://www.bendigoadvertiser.com.au/story/3330164/bendigo-lady-braves-v-kilsyth-cobras-photos/?cs=140
*Leader’s Megan Hustwaite (@MeganHustwaite) reports on the Cobras’ win over Bendigo. Report: http://www.heraldsun.com.au/leader/sport/kilsyth-claim-seabl-south-conference-title-with-thrilling-victory-over-bendigo/story-fnglemo4-1227514941510
*The Age reports on Jacinta Kennedy’s 10-year absence from the WNBL and how the SEABL helped her return. Report: http://www.theage.com.au/sport/basketball/former-opals-star-jacinta-kennedy-makes-wnbl-comeback-with-dandenong-rangers-20150905-gjfsie.html
*Canberra Times’ Jon Tuxworth (@Tuxy81) reports injuries are hurting University of Canberra Capitals’ preparations for the new WNBL season. Report: http://www.canberratimes.com.au/sport/basketball/canberra-capitals--kathleen-macleod-in-doubt-for-wnbl-season---20150901-gjcmx5.html
Roy Ward (@rpjward) is a freelance sports writer who has covered the NBA, NBL, WNBL, SEABL and Big V during his career. He will be filing weekly columns on the SEABL men’s and women’s competitions during this season. For feedback or suggestions send Roy a tweet or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.