FOR Albury-Wodonga Bandits forward Broady Mills and Lady Bandits co-captain Alex Duck, it’s been a vastly different road to their 100-game milestones for the Border club.
Duck, who notched her century of games against Hobart last month, has been nothing short of the heart and soul of the women’s squad since her debut in 2007 as a softly spoken 16-year-old.
Despite missing much of the 2010 season while at Murray State University, the tough-as-nails playmaker is just the second Lady Bandit to rack up 100 games, following team-mate Tenille Collins last year.
Duck, who won consecutive SEABL Australian youth player of the year awards in 2008 and 2009, said the Border outfit’s maiden play-off appearance, also in 2009, was a career highlight surpassed only by the mateship she’d enjoyed along the journey.
“It feels like it’s gone quickly, I think the break I had when I went to college has helped that,” Duck said.
“I still enjoy it, I love the competitiveness, I enjoy my teammates and that’s what I like about this club.
“Making the playoffs was such a big achievement but also definitely the friendships that I’ve made along the way.”
Meanwhile, Mills notched his ton against Canberra a fortnight ago — six years after his first game for the club.
The 196-centimetre forward suffered through several brutal seasons for the Bandits, winning just five games in total for the 2008 and 2009 seasons.
Unsurprisingly, a burned-out Mills needed some time away from hoops, so he headed to Rand for a taste of Hume league football for the past two years.
But the appointment of Brad Chalmers as head coach this year, along with the return of former skipper Matt de Koeyer, lured Mills back to the Bandits.
“I went and played footy for a couple of years out at Rand, I just needed a break from basketball for a little bit,” Mills said.
“We had a few rough seasons towards the end, we didn’t win many games and they were pretty long seasons.
“Matt de Koeyer coming back and Brad (Chalmers) coaching was a very big part of it; just the things I’d heard about Brad and what he wanted to do with the program was a huge incentive.
“Just the work ethic side of things; the amount of training I do now, always in the gym, always trying to get shots up.
“As long as we’re winning I really don’t care how many minutes I play, all Brad wants me to do is play good defence and play with confidence when I’m out there.”
The Bandits host the Hobart Chargers in a critical South Conference clash tonight.
Mills acknowledged the Border club needed to win to keep its SEABL playoff hopes alive.
“There’s no reason why we shouldn’t be confident if we play the way we should play,” Mills said.
“We’ve made some adjustments to they way they played us last time and if we can come out and play then there’s no reason we shouldn’t win.
“This game is essential (to playoff hopes) — if we don’t win, it could just about be the end of it, so it’s such an important game.”
The Lady Bandits are also looking at their match-up with the Lady Chargers as an ideal opportunity to double their win tally for the season.
“We played them a few weeks ago and we were right with them,” Duck said.
“It was just a lapse that let us down again but if we stick it out and play hard, it’s definitely gettable.
“We need to get the ball to Nya early.”
Other recent milestone games for the Bandits and Lady Bandits include Maddy Plunkett, who notched 50 games, and Chris Merrilees, who racked up a half-ton in the road win over Frankston.
Tip-off at the Lauren Jackson Sports Centre is 6.30pm tonight, with the men’s game to follow at 8.30pm.
302 Allen McCowan
287 Nick Payne*
254 Brad Chalmers
165 Shane Black
155 Nick Grylewicz
159 Luke McKerrow
147 Matt de Koeyer*
131 Graham Richardson
128 Darren McFarlane
123 Damien Robertson
120 Chris Dimattina
119 Glenn Collins
117 Leigh Gooding
113 DJ Oates
104 Chris Dodd
101 Andrew Moore
101 Broady Mills*
136 Tenille Collins*
105 Alex Duck*
86 Jessie Smith
84 Stacey de Koeyer*
74 Alex Trezise
70 Rachel Jeffery
66 Holly Bawden
64 Lisa Wallbutton
60 Monique Stevens
55 Emma Mahady
54 Maddy Plunkett*
50 Ellie Gleeson
* Denotes active players