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THE Albury-Wodonga Lady Bandits’ three leading scorers will finally be reunited tomorrow night at the Lauren Jackson Sports Centre.
There’s just one problem. None of them will be on court against the Kilsyth Lady Cobras.
With US import Rachel Maenpaa still on the sidelines with a back injury, the Border club has been rocked with the news forward-centre Maddy Plunkett has been ruled out for the rest of the SEABL season with a fractured foot.
Plunkett suffered the injury — a recurrence of the same fracture that ended her college career at Utah State last year — late in the Lady Bandits’ defeat to Launceston last Saturday.
And as if things weren’t bleak enough for coach James Ballinger, US playmaker Lonnika Thompson will join her teammates on the sidelines with a groin injury.
That’s a combined 44 points, 20.8 rebounds and 7.3 assists per game missing from the Border outfit’s starting lineup.
Normally, it would be enough to make any coach tear his hair out but in his usual glass-half-full attitude, Ballinger described the star absences as a “fun opportunity”.
“We’d love to have those three on the court, they’re obviously pretty talented players,” Ballinger said.
“But we can’t so we’ve just got to stop making excuses and get on with it.
“We’ve been playing smarter recently and I expect us to continue playing smart and figure how we can contribute to the team.
“Montana (Farrah-Seaton) showed last week she can be a capable scorer in this league and everyone else is going to have to work together to get it done.
“But everyone must be accountable on rebounding and defence; and that’s a fun challenge for everyone.”
The Border club will likely run out a starting five of guards Claire Miller and Tenille Collins, forwards Montana Farrah-Seaton and Emma Mahady and Sarah Moore at centre.
Coming off the bench will be Brooke Cincurak, Carly McRae and Jordan Crisp.
With Ballinger having put his players through a detailed video review of their insipid play against the Tornadoes, the first-year mentor admitted he was counting on a defence-by-committee approach.
“It’s going to be tough,” Ballinger said.
“Everyone will say we’re toast or in trouble, we’ve lost our three leading scorers.
“But I only care about the girls wanting to show up and play.
“Tuesday was an eye-opening experience for them; the video doesn’t lie and there was some pretty embarrassed people with some of their efforts.
“So I don’t really care who scores; there’s so many other ways we can contribute and my focus is how we can get more effort rebounding and how we can get more stops on defence.
“I’d rather us give a damn defensively and show some heart rather than complaining they’re bigger than us.”
Tip-off at the Lauren Jackson Sports Centre is 6pm with the men to follow at 8pm.