THE wait for this season’s Waratah League finals weekend will come to a close for the Bathurst Goldminers women this Saturday as they search for their first title in five years.
The State League division one minor premiers from Bathurst face a big test in the semi-final with hosts Maitland Mustangs waiting for them.
But if 2017 has told us anything it’s that the Bathurst women have always been up to task when faced with a challenge.
Despite inconsistent player numbers for away matches, and members being busy with other basketball commitments, the team has managed to string together 10 straight wins on their runs towards finals.
Bathurst captain Rachel Murray would love nothing more than to help her side go the distance.
“I’ve played for Bathurst for a long time, since I was in under 12s, but I was playing overseas when they won [in 2012]. I missed out unfortunately, so hopefully this is the year I get that win with Bathurst,” she said.
Murray and the ’Miners made it to last year’s final but were stopped in their path by the Wagga Wagga Blaze.
There’s a strong set of contenders lining up in this year’s final four.
Semi-final opponents Maitland may have been smashed by 40 points last time they played the Goldminers but they’ve since rebuilt.
“Maitland will be a lot better this weekend. They’ve got a new coach and they looked a lot better at the last round we saw them at when compared to the game we played against them,” Murray said.
“They’ve got lots of girls who can play so I think it’s going to be a really good matchup for us.”
Despite the three week break since the last round of the regular season Murray said the team feels ready for the finals.
“It’s hard when there’s big gaps between games, not just for match fitness but just to get a rhythm and a flow amongst the team,” she said.
“Getting offensive sets going can be hard with those gaps, but I think we’ve done a great job at training working on our plays and working five-on-five when we can.”
Goldminers co-coach Paul Masters said strong minutes across his squad will be an advantage at Maitland.
“To come up against Maitland in Maitland is probably not what we were looking for … and the home crowd support will make it interesting. If we do our things right then we can do some damage,” he said.
“Maitland have got a couple of kids who also play Youth League and have been in state teams I’ve been with. We know what they’re like, and hopefully we can contain them.
“Their depth is probably their weakness but they’ve got five to six decent players who we need to keep under control.
“We played with different squads and different groups but no matter who we put on the court most of them have played together. During the year everyone’s had adequate court time so every time they go on the court everyone should know what to do.”
The other semi-final between long-time front runners Shoalhaven Tigers and the in-form team of the competition, Coffs Harbour Suns, promises to be a cracker.
Bathurst Goldminers play Maitland from 11am.