Giving up both size and experience, self-confessed underdogs Zaros acknowledge they have a mountain to climb tonight to unseat the most dominant women’s basketball side the Goldfields has seen in almost two decades.
After edging into the play-offs with just five wins in their second season of senior basketball, fourth-placed Zaros stunned Olympians and Saints in two sudden-death contests to earn their place facing off against league powerhouse CBC. CBC have lost just two games all year and are aiming for a sixth straight Kalgoorlie-Boulder Basketball Association women’s division 1 crown.
If they win tonight they will become only the second women’s team to reach that milestone after Olympians claimed 13 straight A-grade championships between 1974 and 1986, eclipsing the five titles Olympians snared from 2000-2004.
“We are going in as the underdogs and we just hope to give them a good run,” Zaros coach Julia Hawaikirangi said.
“We’re a small club compared to CBC, so to get this far is just huge.
“We’ve already celebrated that fact so anything else that comes after that is a bonus.”
Zaros founder and former coach Murray Gulley says the maiden grand final berth is just reward for the mostly teenage squad, some of whom have risen up the junior ranks together since the club formed in 2013.
“I think it’s fantastic,” he said.
“This is only the second year that Zaros has had a side in A-grade women’s, so the achievement they made to come in the final … it’s one of the proudest moments to show that we are competitive and the juniors who stuck by us have been rewarded.”
CBC coach Janine Turner admitted winning a sixth consecutive title would be a “great achievement”, but said the side did not dwell on their recent success.
“Zaros played a fantastic game to beat Saints,” she said.
“I think that surprised everybody and if they come out and play the same it’s not going to be an easy game.
“We don’t talk about it (the success).
“They just go game by game and they know that it’s not going to be an easy game.
“They’re not going out there thinking they’re the top side so they’re going to win — they’ll have to work hard for it.”
CBC’s aerial prowess is headlined by experienced talls Gaby Clancy, Aimee Borchet, Emmett Clinch-Hoycard and emerging junior Kueiyra Butler, while the returning Sarah Tagliaferri has added another string to the defending champions’ bow with her pinpoint outside shooting.
While Turner cautioned their opponents have a deep talent pool, all eyes will be on 15-year-old division scoring leader Kiriana Hawaikirangi at the other end of the court, one of a handful of juniors who suited up for Zaros in their first game five seasons ago.
The grand final tips off at 6.30pm.