THE Albury-Wodonga Lady Bandits play host to the Hobart Lady Chargers tonight in what would ordinarily be just another contest between two teams with no chance of SEABL post-season action.
But this game comes with a twist, as it will be the first time in almost 26 years a Bandits team will play in Wodonga.
Not since August 25, 1985, when the men’s Bandits squad were soundly thrashed by Manly — 122-80 — has the Wodonga Sports and Leisure Centre hosted a SEABL contest.
The Wodonga stadium was the original home court in 1984 for the Bandits’ debut season — playing as the Wodonga Border Bulldogs — in the old South Eastern Basketball League and the venue then split games with the newly constructed Albury Sports Stadium the following year.
From the 1986 season however, all SEABL games were played in Albury, with Wodonga relegated to hosting junior tournaments and serving as home court for various CVIBL, WVBL, CBC and CBL incarnations of the Wodonga Wolves and Lady Wolves.
Lady Bandits coach Lisa Townsend said holding a game at the Sports and Leisure Centre was just a small way of thanking the Wodonga basketball community for its support of the Border teams.
“I think it’s going to be a great experience, playing this side of the border and hopefully the Wodonga
people come out in force to support the girls,” Townsend said.
“The Wodonga association has been a big supporter of both Bandits teams over the past few years and it’s good to show that we can bring a game over here.
“They’ve upgraded the court, which is fantastic, most of the girls have played here when playing CBL, so I suppose it’s only the imports that haven’t played here but we’ll train here and get a good feel for things.”
Despite the Lady Chargers sitting second-last on the ladder with just three wins, Townsend admitted her players simply couldn’t afford to take a win for granted.
“Always wary of Hobart, they’ll play a zone pretty much the whole game because they’ll struggle to match up with us,” Townsend said.
“And they do that against most teams, they might be near the bottom of the ladder but they always put in a good show so we need to make sure we look after what we need to do and get the win.”
Following the Hobart game, the Lady Bandits hit the road for a trip to Carina and a clash with the Brisbane Lady Spartans tomorrow night.
“Brisbane are a bit of the unknown quantity at the moment, they’ve got a new coach and they’re playing a lot better basketball than when they came here,” Townsend said.
“We’ve tended to do a little bit better on the road of late so we’ll be up for the challenge, they’ve got the same win-loss record as us so it’s gettable for us but they use their home court advantage very well.”
Tip-off is at 8pm.