BRING THE NOISE: Mildura heat basketballers Jasmine Simmons and Benson Steere are ready for the final home and away games at the Toyota Hothouse for 2017 tomorrow. The duo hope a massive crowd will come and show their support. Photo: PAUL MENSCH
By MITCH RODD
WHAT better way to prepare for the Big V Basketball play-offs than by toppling the ladder-leaders.
The Mildura Lady Heat will aim to do just that when they host old adversaries Geelong Supercats in a Division One Women’s showdown at the Toyota Hothouse tomorrow night.
The Mildura Heat Division Two Men side face a tough prospect of their own, clashing with the Wallan Panthers.
In the final home game of the home and away season in Mildura, local fans get the chance to see Jasmine Simmons wear the black and red again.
The 18-year-old has excelled at the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) in Canberra, but has moved back to Sunraysia on a permanent basis until her transfer to Oregon State University in the USA next year.
Jasmine’s season, however, has been ruined by injuries, namely a stress fracture in her back, as well as an avulsion fracture in her right foot, forcing her to wear a moon boot for seven weeks.
The captain of the Australian Under 17 World Champion team had her first full training session in eight months with the Lady Heat upon her return home, and returned to competitive action in last week’s road trip double-header.
“I was definitely a bit sore on Monday, especially after spending such a long time on a bus, but it’s been exciting to get back into playing again,” she said.
“That first full session made me realise how unfit I was but it was great to be back out there.
“They are such a welcoming team and have such a good coach. They’ve played some awesome basketball this season and hopefully the team can keep that going.”
For only playing three games, Jasmine will miss out on automatically qualifying for the finals series. The Mildura Basketball Association, however, are in the process of applying for an exemption for her on account of her injury-interrupted season.
“I’m unsure about finals yet, but it’s been pretty good being back in Mildura,” she said.
“I’m just keen to finish off Year 12, stay involved as much as I can in basketball here and then head off to Oregon next year. I’m excited to go.”
One of the new faces for the Mildura Heat men, Benson Steere, has enjoyed being involved in the 2017 campaign.
The 25-year-old Warrnambool native made the move from Melbourne 12 months ago and has loved being a part of a system with “a great community feel.”
“Obviously these guys have played together for a few years, so it took me a few games to figure out their game style, and for them to figure out how I fit into it,” the point guard said.
“The last five or six weeks I think I’ve started to hit my straps, and so has the team. We’ve been playing some good basketball.”
Benson said he has enjoyed being part of a squad prominently filled with younger players.
“Cal, Dave and I are the older members of the squad, it’s such a young group,” he said.
“Wherever I’ve played I’ve always liked taking on that captain style role of helping getting everyone up and going.
“I think Dave appreciates having another older hand around, especially on the bus trips. We can actually play some decent tunes instead of the rubbish music the young blokes listen to.”