Still on a high from a monumental Bendigo Braves take down on the weekend, Launceston Tornadoes celebrated its up and down season to date on Tuesday night.
The Torns have experienced highs such as earning a home preliminary and the lows of being injury plagued at key times.
However, one consistent has been Lauren Nicholson who was unsurprisingly crowned the club’s most valuable player. Coach Derrick Washington said the 26-year-old SEABL MVP, first team selection and leading points scorer was a dream player at her peak.
“She is an all-round basketball player. She can score the ball, rebound the ball, get her teammates involved and is a great leader on and off the floor – she’s everything you need in a player,” he said.
“You count on her every game to give you something, and that is a very special thing that a lot of coaches dream of having.”
Washington said he was miffed as to why she is yet to represent her country alongside Torns captain Lauren Mansfield. “She could definitely play for the Opals for sure. I don’t know why she hasn’t been picked – I’m confused,” he said.
“Her time will come.”
Former Hobart Charger Ellie Collins left the Riverside Golf Club with the Torns’ most improved trophy, after standing up all season in the absence of key personnel.
Washington praised Collins for her willingness to learn and for her role in shutting down star Brave Gabrielle Richards in the qualifying final.
“She is a hard worker that listens, and is always wanting to know what she did wrong and how she can improve,” he said.
“If you look at her stats from last year to this year, her improvement’s been amazing and next year is going to be even better.”
Emma Haywood claimed the Debbie Black award for her ability to “put her teammates first”, while Washington handed his coach’s accolade to defensive stalwart Ali Partridge.
The final major award on the night went to chairwoman Janie Finlay, who was bestowed the Tornado of the year honour.
Washington has given his charges a few days to relax and unwind before zeroing in on what is required for Saturday, August 11’s second preliminary final at Elphin Sports Centre. The Torns will tackle the winner of this weekend’s second-semi final between Melbourne and Nunawading in front of what Washington hopes is a vocal sell-out crowd.
He said fatigue kept Opals player Mansfield from playing in Bendigo, but confirmed she would be fresh for the do-or-die fixture.
And when asked what his plans were for next season, Washington replied: “I’ll be here”.
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