Bonnie Kuchel has been a vital contributor toward Coffs Harbour women’s State League team reaching the final four once again.
Bonnie Kuchel has been a vital contributor toward Coffs Harbour women’s State League team reaching the final four once again. Tarum images

Eight is enough for Suns girls

DON’T bother telling Coffs Harbour’s women’s State League basketball team that they need extra players on the bench.

The Suns are travelling to Newcastle today for the state finals with only eight players but they believe that’s more than enough to grab an elusive title.

“We’re confident we can win and excited about the game,” Suns coach Connie Woods said.

Last week the Suns took to the court with only six players due to the younger players in the team being away for the underage state championships.

The inexperienced members of the team return this afternoon but the Suns are still short of the full complement.

That’s because Sammy Cooper injured her foot last week against Bathurst and Laura Bamford has failed to recover from an ankle injury she sustained in the junior champs.

What the team may lack in numbers though it more than makes up for in experience.

This is the fourth consecu- tive year that the girls have made it to the final four teams in the state.

Having played at this level so many times before is an advantage that Woods believes will hold the squad in good stead against a quality opponent in Queanbeyan, who the Suns face in today’s semi-final.

“Queanbeyan finished on top of their pool so we shouldn’t have been playing them until the final, but we have to play them in the semi because of the crossover after we lost to Bathurst last week,” she said.

Woods was born and bred in Queanbeyan and lived there for 30 years but admits that hasn’t helped her at all when it comes to gathering intelligence on the upcoming opponents.

“I don’t recognise any of the names in the team so I’d say there’s a few players there from Canberra,” she said.

One player who will need to be watched is Stephanie Perch, who is among the top scorers in the league this year, averaging 15.83 points per game including a game-high 31 in last week’s qualifying final against Newcastle.

The coach, though, says that Queanbeyan will also have their eyes over the top scorers’ list and will be closely watching Coffs Harbour’s offensive weapons.

“They’ll be looking at our top scorers and with players like Bonnie Kuchel in our team we should be confident,” she said.

“We’ve been able to use full-court pressure this year instead of dropping back to a half-court press and that has helped this year.

“Even though there’s only eight girls on the team we won’t be changing anything until we need to. They will be thinking the same way so we just hope our style is good enough to beat theirs.”

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