Dan Trist and Shereesha Richards were named the Blues senior program Most Valuable Players at Frankston’s glittering award night held at the Frankston RSL on Monday.
While the senior Blues teams may not have enjoyed the kind of on court success that they may have hoped for throughout the year, the blueprint to change the culture and restore the program to its former glory is firmly on track. Both Blues Big Youth League teams are in contention to win their respective titles, with the men’s and women’s SEABL teams introducing on and off court stability; ultimately laying the foundations for future success.
Players, coaches, those behind the scenes who are often unheralded, along with family and friends, were all in attendance and duly recognised on the night for their support of the Blues program throughout 2018. Without their ongoing effort and dedication, the opportunity to offer Frankston’s juniors a pathway to senior level basketball would not exist.
With Simon Mitchell at the helm this year, the Blues women went through a season of change and experienced more than their fair share of animosity in finishing with a 2-18 record and sitting at the bottom of the table.
Tocarra Ross and Stacey Barr were welcome additions to the side for the round 3 clash with the Spectres, and then Shereesa Richards was added in round 5 in the narrow loss to the Sparks. But injuries took a toll on the side, with Barr, Ross, Richards, Captain Sammie Simmons and Milica Ivanov all missing games due to injury. The return home of Steph Reid after a decorated collegiate career was timely, but as one college career came to an end, another was just starting as Lana Hollingsworth left for Boston College.
Although it was a tough season, there may well be a silver lining. Barr and Reid’s great seasons may well have seen them do enough to secure WNBL contracts for next season, and if Mitchell can return the core group for 2019 and add some additional pieces, the foundations are there from which to build on.
Shereesha Richards was recognised for her impact on the program by being named team MVP. Richards, like many of her team mates, suffered an untimely injury that meant Blues and SEABL fans never had the chance to see the best of the star forward. Despite injury impacting on her season, she still managed to deliver 19.4 points (52.3% FG) with 9.6 rebounds per game, and she is a player that Mitchell is likely to have high on his list of players he would like to return in 2019.
Despite her age, Emma Nankervis took on some of the best centres in the league throughout 2018 and more than held her own. For her ability to elevate her game to new levels, she was recognised by being named the Most Improved Player. Another often unsung player in Shannon Perrett picked up the Defensive Player of the Year award for the often thankless task of guarding the opposition’s best players.
In many regards, the Blues men’s fortunes almost mirrored that of the women, finishing the season with a 4-16 record and in second last place. It was a slow start to the season as Andrew Harms looked to bring together a competitive team.
Former NBL star Rhys Carter joined the side after a number of years in Europe, while Rob Linton returned to the Blues after a stint in the SA Premier League. Import Sam Muldrow was a welcome addition, making a huge impact on the league and the Blues to anchor the Blues defensively in the paint. With wins still hard to come by, Trist joined the team, but injuries and an inability to close out games took a toll.
While their playoff chances were over, another NBL star in Lucas Walker joined the side late in the season, further adding to the mix with a view to the future.
In the second half of the season the Blues were more than just competitive, and could have easily have won an additional half dozen or so games after leading in the third quarter. A healthy squad, some continuity and a deeper bench may be the keys to unlocking success in 2019.
Ahead of his debut NBL season with Melbourne United, Trist was named the SEABL men’s MVP after a dominant season. The 6’8 power forward provided some insights into what he is likely to deliver at the next level, averaging an imposing 25.2 points and 10.9 rebounds per game while being named to the All-SEABL Second Team despite playing just 12 of the Blues’ 20 games this season.
Rob Linton was recognised for his selfless play and ability to help slow down the opposition’s best player in being named Defensive Player of the year, while Blues junior Tom Garrett earned the Most Improved Player award.
BIG V YOUTH LEAGUE WOMEN
Most Valuable Player: Kassie Boorer
Defensive Player of the Year: Alice Yates
Most Improved Player: Abby Chernishoff
BIG V YOUTH LEAGUE MEN
Most Valuable Player: Ryan Wells
Defensive Player of the Year: Ryan Wells
Most Improved Player: Vincent Monaghan
VJBL U21 MEN
Most Valuable Player: Darcey Strauss