Redbacks women primed for strong finish

With two rounds of the regular season remaining, Redbacks women’s coach Craig Allen is happy to be in a position where his team is fighting for a top four spot and looking forward to what the next month and potentially longer holds.

On the back of two victories in Round 16 of the NBL1 West Women’s Division season against the Kalamunda Eastern Suns, the Redbacks are currently locked in a battle for a top four position with a 10-6 record.

It’s the Rockingham Flames they’re sparring with over that fourth position. Both teams are on the same records with two rounds and two games remaining each of their regular seasons.

The Redbacks will finish off the regular season with games on the next two Friday nights starting this week against the Mandurah Magic and then next week against the Cockburn Cougars.

Redbacks women’s head coach Craig Allen is looking forward to seeing how the next two weeks pan out and is hoping a top four finish ends up in their hands.

“Our season has been a bit up and down, but we have had enough good to put ourselves in a position where we can finish in the top four,” Allen said.

“We just need to look to execute each game, and each set really to get the job done every quarter. Then hopefully results will go our way and we actually can put ourselves in the top four. That’s the goal and then from there we’ll look to really embrace the finals challenge.”

The addition to the Redbacks team of Makailah Dyer in 2021 has been tremendous and she has produced enough to not only be a match-winner for Perth, but also put herself into league MVP calculations.

However, just as important is for her to have plenty of support in the backcourt and the Redbacks have been providing that in spades with the scoring and shooting punch of Bri Bailey, play-running abilities of Raya Thompson and the all-round talents of Denielle Ashworth, among others.

“It’s very important to have been able to give Mak some help. That spreading of the load also gives Bri the option to be a scoring threat and creates for the others as well,” Allen said.

“Those girls add defensive intensity to our group as well and that’s their big role. It does absolutely create opportunities and it takes that ball-handling off Mak a little bit to be able to make those rotations. I think it just creates more options for us offensively.”

As for Thompson, she has overcome a horror run of knee injuries that threatened her career to now be playing impressive basketball with the Redbacks and Allen is delighted with how the former Slammers point guard is going.

“Raya’s a great person first of all and she really dedicated herself to her rehab, and executed that part of it really well,” he said.

“It’s really pleasing to see her come through and play again, and to play well. She is playing really good basketball so I’m very happy with that.”

The Redbacks might not be overly deep in the frontcourt but they are well served by Maddie Allen and Jess Jakens in that department with support from young gun Shenae Hartree.

“Maddie is still a really great facilitator for us playing inside and we can create a lot from her. She is really good at cleaning up boards obviously and I’m sure she’s at the top end in the league with that,” Allen said.

“And Jay is just Jay. She is that real hard worker and you know what you are going to get every game from her. She fights on the boards, works really hard, runs the floor, executes well and is a great leader. When Shenae comes on to give those two a spell, she is very efficient in her output and that will stand us in great stead come finals.”

The Redbacks have already locked away a finals berth in this inaugural NBL1 West season and now it’s just a matter of seeing how high they can finish up with Allen looking forward to finding out how good this team can end up being.

“I’m excited going into the finals definitely,” Allen said.

“That’s obviously the first goal you set yourselves going into a season, you want to be able to play well enough to put yourself into a position to be playing in a finals scenario.”

“Hopefully we can just keep building and put ourselves in a position in the finals where we can actually play to our potential.”

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