IT WILL be an emotional finale for the Launceston Tornadoes on Saturday night as they farewell long-serving player and assistant coach Alicia Riley in the last game of the season at the Elphin Stadium.
The Torns take on the Frankston Lady Blues for the Rex Sainty Legends Cup, dedicated in honour of the club stalwart and all former Tornadoes players including the history-making 1995, championship-winning team.
The 32-year-old Riley has announced her retirement as a player after a career spanning 10 seasons and more than 200 games.
‘‘I have many reasons for retiring and I am excited for the future and a new chapter in my life,’’ she said.
Riley is looking forward to a new focus on coaching and being able to spend more time with her twin seven-year-old girls, Ami and Elli, who have watched nearly every match their mum has played.
‘‘I am so happy they got to see me play at this level – it’s not just a story I tell them, it’s real and I hope that it inspires them to reach for their dreams, whatever they may be.
‘‘This club has been a huge part of my life, I will always stay connected with it, I am looking forward to continuing on being involved.
‘‘I will be focusing on developing my skills as a coach, I love coaching and this year’s experience as assistant coach and acting-head coach has motivated me to continue to follow this dream.’’
If the Tornadoes can beat Frankston and win the Rex Sainty Cup in the last game it will be a continuation of their late season form that could see them finish fifth on the Southern Conference ladder.
But it won’t be an easy task as the Lady Blues have had an outstanding season and the Torns will face the challenge of shutting down the dominant trio of WNBL stars in Maddie Garrick, Nicole Romeo and Kelly Bowen.
Opals recruit Abby Bishop is unable to play the final game of the season due to family commitments, but Tornadoes coach Peta Sinclair believes that the team still has what it takes to win in her absence.
‘‘Contributions from the bench players will be critical once again, the bench have been outstanding of late, and that’s has made a huge difference to our form,’’ she said.
Tip-off is at 6.30pm.