Talented, athletic future Opals crush Albury-Wodonga Lady Bandits

CRISIS? What crisis?

The Albury-Wodonga Lady Bandits were humiliated by the cream of Australian basketball talent on Saturday night, falling to Basketball Australia’s Centre of Excellence by the embarrassing scoreline of 111-41 at the AIS Training Hall in Canberra.

It was the Lady Bandits’ worst loss since April 20, 2012, when the Dandenong Lady Rangers obliterated the Border club 113-38.

But staying true to his habit of neither getting too high on a win or too low after defeat, coach James Ballinger refused to lambast his players, saying they were simply outclassed.

“They (CoE) had seven future Australian Opals in that team and it clearly showed,” Ballinger said.

“Yes, 70 points is a lot to lose by but full credit goes to them.

“They’re just phenomenal players, Australian basketball is in very good hands.

“It leaves us 0-2 and with a good perspective of what it takes at the next level.

“I’m not going to lie, it was a tough challenge for us; their overall size, talent and athleticism was just too much for us.”

The Centre of Excellence enjoyed statistical advantage, owning the rebound count 62-26 as Lady Bandits missed 59 shots from 73 attempts.

In a rare occurrence, the Border outfit actually shot a better percentage from international waters (6/24, 25 per cent) than it did from inside the three-point line (14/73, 19 per cent).

Albury-Wodonga scored just five points in the opening period and bookended the forgettable display with a measly seven points in the final quarter.

Six of the seven Centre of Excellence players notched double-digit points, with Alicia Froling leading the way with 24 points and 13 rebounds and Stephanie Talbot adding a superlative triple-double of 18 points, 10 boards and 10 assists.

Montana Farrah-Seaton played a lone hand for the Lady Bandits, scoring a team-high 21 points, including five triples.

But there was precious little offensive help, with debutantes Emilee Harmon (10 points) and Lauren Angel (nine points), along with guard Sophie Kleeman (one point), the only other players to trouble the score-keepers.

The Centre of Excellence did as it pleased, dominating inside to the extent that its points in the paint total (54) easily outscored the visitors’ overall tally.

“I think this will sting all of us,” Ballinger said.

“But in terms of long-term damage, I don’t think it affects us.

“Outside perceptions aren’t something I’m overly worried about.

“I’m more concerned with making sure everyone is on the same page.”

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