THE Cockburn Cougars are raring to get stuck into SBL 2019 as they aim to improve on the disappointment of last year.
Finishing in 9th and 10th place respectively in 2018, Cockburn’s men’s and women’s teams are banking on a raft of hungry local talent to propel them up the ladder this season.
After winning their first two games of 2018 and getting off to a strong start, the Cougar women were struck with a slew of injuries to key players in the following rounds which halted their momentum and saw them win just four more games for the rest of the season.
Head coach Megan Thompson said a strong preseason had the team fit and eager to fight for every game.
“Obviously we didn’t get as many wins on the board as we would have liked to but we still pushed teams and, even with seven injuries, the squad stepped up, trained hard and took their opportunities,” she said.
“We’ve been on the court earlier than I think any other club in the preseason, we’ve got a couple of new faces, but other than that we’ve maintained the core which is amazing
“I think we’ll be a team to watch-I’m not sure how they’ll rate us, whether we’re the underdogs or not, but at the end of the day the team that won the whole thing last year (Lakeside) we only lost to by two and that was when we were undermanned.”
In the last two years the Cougar men have struggled to find the form of their championship-winning 2016 season, but head coach Adam Nener said they were actively working to change that.
“Obviously we were disappointed not to make finals (in 2018) but I thought the team really pushed themselves and learned the whole way through the season,” he said.
“Preseason has been a big focus on defence and our team culture and chemistry.
“Our aim and goal is to make finals, a lot of teams have recruited very well, which is great for the league, and we’re hoping to really push those teams, fly under the radar a little bit.”
There is no bigger start to the season for Cockburn than a home game against rivals Willetton.
Thompson said the game would be a great test, adding it was great to start the season at home.
Nener said the wider Cockburn community should get behind the club and experience the excitement and entertainment of game night for themselves.
“The club has worked really hard to create that atmosphere over the years and we have a lot of local Cockburn junior players (on the roster), which is something we’re really proud of,” he said.
The Cockburn Cougars will kick off season 2019 against Willetton at Wally Hagan Stadium, Hamilton Hill on March 16.
The women will tip-off at 5pm with the men to follow at 7pm.
Coach Predictions for 2019
3pt Queen: Brianna Moyes
Most Points: Kisha Lee
Best Defensive Player: Haylee De Sousa
MVP: Kisha Lee
Best 1st/2nd Year Player: Ruby Benn
The One to Watch: Matilda Muir
3pt King: Hayden Bell/Gavin Field
Most Points: Gavin Field
Best Defensive Player: Jaarod Holmes/Seva Chan
MVP: Gavin Field
Best 1st/2nd Year Player: Anthony Moreschi/Logan Franich
The One to Watch: Everyone