Sparks fall to defending champions in the opening round

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In the opening round of the 2018 SEABL season, the Southern Design Sydney Uni Sparks fell to the defending premiers, the Geelong Supercats, 71-63.

The Sparks welcomed back Tahlia Tupaea and Susi Walmsley to the side after an injury plagued pre-season for both players. Fellow Brydens Sydney Uni Flames team-mates Shanae Greaves and Lara McSpadden also started for the Flames, along with Flames development player Maddie O’Hehir.

The Sparks got off to a good start at the Geelong Arena, leading at the five minute mark. However, at this point, the Sparks began to unravel. A lack of defensive intensity hurt the young group who allowed the seasoned Geelong guards to penetrate and dish to their knock down three-point shooters. Poor defence, combined with their inability to convert on offence, meant the Sparks were down 19 points at the half.

It was a tale of two halves as the Sparks rallied in the second, lifting their defensive efforts and slowly decreasing the deficit. They came out firing in the fourth quarter, reducing the margin to two points with a couple of minutes to play. Despite winning the quarter 23 to 12, it wasn’t enough to regain the lead. Geelong hit some crucial baskets to close out the game and took an eight point victory.

While the Sparks head coach, Belinda Snell is at the Commonwealth Games, former head coach and current assistant, Karen Dalton has taken the reins. “I was extremely impressed with the way the team fought back in the second half after a disappointing start to the game. We will be focusing on defence and rebounding this week at practice in the lead up to our double header next weekend,” Dalton said.

Four players finished in double figures for the Sparks. Shanae Greaves led with 15, Lara McSpadden had 14, Tupaea had 12 and Maddie O’Hehir added 11.

The Sparks play their first home game of the season this Friday 13th April at Brydens Stadium (Sydney Uni Sports and Aquatic Centre) Tip-off is at 7pm against the Albury Wodonga Lady Bandits. They will then travel down to Canberra to take on the Basketball Australia Centre of Excellence (BACOE) on Sunday 15th April at 1pm.