Tornadoes hero Lauren Nicholson has revealed she came close to not returning to Launceston this year.
On the cusp of securing the club’s first championship title since its 1995 national win, the 25-year-old Sydneysider can hardly fathom the central figure she plays for the import’s adopted home.
Nicholson’s signing with the club prior to the 2017 season coincided with an indecisive Launceston roster.
Ally Wilson had decided on a winter hiatus away from another SEABL year, Tayla Roberts was set to sign with Melbourne Tigers and American Mikaela Ruef soon headed off for a WNBA trial at the LA Sparks.
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Four games into Nicholson’s tenure, the club and coach Ben Rush parted ways.
“I think two seasons ago I thought that I really didn’t know what I was getting myself into,” Nicholson said.
“I thought I’d give it a try, but I also wasn’t sure if I was coming back for this season as well. Now it has proven that I made the right choice and I am glad that I did stay.”
Nicholson has richly been rewarded with the SEABL women’s MVP award.
The small forward had averaged a season-high 25.4 points, around three points per game better than the next four shooters in the league.
After WNBL stints at Sydney Uni Flames and Adelaide Lightning, punctured by four years at renowned US college St Mary’s, she could not deny hitting her basketball zenith since landing in Launceston.
“This is definitely the best year I have had probably since my last year of college in the States,” Nicholson said.
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“It’s nice to finally feel like I am playing at my best.
“I have had a couple of years there where I wasn’t playing to my full potential.
“But I think the girls I am playing with are the ones that make me look good.”
The names she is talking about are not just the Wilsons and Mansfields of the team.
But raps are on the roles that Ali Partridge, Emma Haywood and Paige French have played out to send the Torns a further step this year than their past two attempts.
Even without captain Lauren Mansfield preoccupied with Australian Opals camp and American Courtney Williams a late injury withdrawal, Nicholson never lost faith in the side’s ability to beat Nunawading Spectres and finally reach the grand final.
“Loz and Courtney are two high-calibre players and it was a big loss to not have either of them,” she said.
“I don’t think we were too worried. We have great role players that know what to do, especially defensively.
“That is where we’re winning games at the moment.”
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But Nicholson asks why stop there? She firmly suggested Bendigo should fear Launceston more so than Derrick Washington’s charges should fear the raging championship favourites .
“Anything can happen, but I do know they are beatable the way we are playing at the moment,” she said.
“Our team is full of confidence, so it’s a pretty good thing going into this game.
“Bendigo are ones that will be looking at us, thinking how are we going to get over the line. We keep saying we’re nervous to play them, but they’ll be more nervous to play us.”
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