By MITCH RODD
THE Mildura Lady Heat have a nervous waiting game on their hands to try and secure Alyesha Lovett, ABOVE, for a second season as an import.
The 26-year-old from New Jersey forced editors of the thesaurus to find new superlatives to describe her 2019 season with the Big V Basketball side.
Quite possibly the best female import Sunraysia has seen, Lovett dominated the Division 1 Women’s competition, helping her side to the grand final series. Unfortunately the Lady Heat went down to the Hawthorn Magic two games to nil.
Coach James Madigan said both parties were keen to reunite in 2020, however much will depend on where Lovett will play during the upcoming European season.
“As a player and a person she is right up there with the best we have ever had,” he said.
“It’s out of our hands a little bit. We want her back, and she wants to come back, but a lot of it will come down to where she plays in Europe. There will be a lot of good teams coming after her and there are a lot of scouts that take notice of Australian competitions.
“Her boyfriend is currently playing in Spain and I think she would like to play there, but their season also goes right up until May, which would leave it too late for our season. That was the same issue we had with (2018 import) Alexis Gassion for the following season.
“It’s not a matter of her not wanting to return, or us not wanting her back. She is a professional and will play at a high standard. She’s also the quality of person that she wouldn’t want to leave another team in the lurch while finishing another season.
“We will have to start searching again, but getting her back is our number one priority.”
Following their two-point loss to Hawthorn in Game 1 of the grand final series, the Lady Heat had to win Game 2 to stand a chance.
The taller Magic outfit, however, got the job done on their home court 80-60, winning the rebound count 62 to 34.
Despite the result, Madigan said 2019 has been an overwhelmingly positive season.
“It is disappointing but we didn’t play at our best and we were beaten by the better side,” he said.
“We were obviously disappointed but we took a big deep breath the next day and decided we should be impressed with what we did achieve, more so than rueing what we didn’t.
“I’ve analysed a little bit myself, I haven’t shared it with the girls as yet. I’m giving them a bit of time to themselves, but we’ll debrief in the coming weeks.
“They are all keen to go again for 2020. Their attitudes are amazing and I could not fault their season.
“We may have fallen at the final hurdle, but that is certainly no fault of their own.”
Madigan was particularly impressed with the way developmental talents Sydney Lock, Alannah Morello and Jasmine Hall handled playing in Division 1.
“It has been really exciting to see them grow,” Madigan said.
“We forget just how young they are, I wouldn’t even class them as ‘juniors’ yet, they’re still very young.
“The input and the development they showed across the season has been fantastic, not only as players but as young ladies as well. You could see them start to come out of their shell as the season went on.”