LUCK or fate could have played a part in Ballarat Rush securing a play-off spot, the way other results played out.
Kate Willey says whatever it might be, did not matter. Auslec Rush had a chance to prove it was worthy.
Rush’s next chance is in Hobart tonight, a big assignment considering players had to take time off work for the late interstate fixture – a South East Australian Basketball League south conference preliminary final.
“I don’t think anyone’s really given us a chance, especially down there, but I don’t mind being underdogs. It gives you plenty to prove,” Willey said.
“I think everyone thought we were underdogs last week (in Nunawading) but we didn’t feel that way.
“It was good to show we’re true competition.”
Rush was the first team to beat championship favourite Knox this season – the Raiders are already in the SEABL south grand final – but Willey said Rush still had a way to go to convince everyone they had what it took.
Hobart has beaten Rush twice this season. The first was in mid-July on Rush’s Tasmanian double without key scorer Alice Kunek.
The second time was three weeks ago at the Minerdome in a lost chance for Rush to end Hobart’s finals hopes early.
Willey says that since then, Rush has been able to settle as a playing group with a better idea of how each player fits best in the game plan.
Rush coach Peter Cunningham has called on his experienced core of Willey, Kunek, Andrea McMahon and captain Kristy Rinaldi to help make decisions on match-ups.
Sometimes this means Willey has the toughest defensive role, like athletic Lady Spectre and emerging Opal Tegan Cunningham last week, allowing Kunek more room to score.
But it was always about what worked best for Rush as a team. Teamwork, Willey said, was Rush’s best asset.
“All our starting five is strong and the young girls coming off the bench are solid every time,” Willey said.
“A lot of other teams focus on their star recruits and star imports and sometimes I think our depth and potential goes a little unnoticed.”
Rush’s flight to Tasmania was early this morning.
Players and staff will make their way to the hotel, hit the stadium for a short shooting session this afternoon, then start match preparation.
Logistics are tight.
Cunningham said there was not five seconds to waste at training last night.
Rush training was short, sharp and very focused.
This followed a more relaxed, positive session on Tuesday night that covered basic planning.
The Lady Chargers have smashed Rush on the boards twice (45 to 27 in their last meeting) and have the potential to break free via Eliza Chilcott or, like last time, Kathleen Scheer, who chalked up 38 points.
Rush will have to go inside to score and compete more.
But it is all fine-tuning.
Their mission this season has been based on belief and the group knows it has got what it takes for victory tonight.