The SEQ Dealer Trade Stars have started their inaugural WNBL season in grand style with an impressive 80-63 win over last year’s finalists Bendigo Spirit at Logan Metro Indoor Sports Centre on Friday night. A delighted Stars coach Shane Heal said, “I was really happy for the team as they’d put in so much hard work to get us to this point, so it was nice to be rewarded early. “Considering the challenges in not having two of our best players available through injury this shows the depth in our squad and augers well for the season ahead.” The team’s two US imports were outstanding. Ify Ibekwe (19 points, 9 rebounds) and Denesha Stallworth (24 points, 10 rebounds) were an exciting combination and very athletic up against Bendigo’s taller players.
SEQ Stars’ US import Ify Ibekwe drives to the hoop against Bendigo.
Guard Amy Lewis’ defensive effort and intensity was outstanding for the Stars with Rachel Jarry (14 points, 5 rebounds) providing great leadership in her first game back in the WNBL for a while. Lauren Mansfield with 8 assists and only one turnover stepping up from the SEABL was a big addition and lead the team like a veteran. “I couldn’t have been prouder of their desperation and the way they played together, showing intense defence but also playing with a high scoring style,” Heal said. “The team withstood two challenges from Bendigo in the second and last quarters which was very pleasing.” The Stars next game is this Friday against Dandenong in Melbourne. Shane Heal said about the task against Dandenong, “The two teams are very even and it will be a big test for us to replicate our great first-up effort. “Dandenong are used to being in the playoffs so this will be a tough battle for us.”
Coach Shane Heal addresses his players at the break