There will be plenty of reason for the Perth Lynx to come out hard in Wednesday’s WNBL season opener, in a Grand Final rematch.
They’ll take on the Melbourne Boomers with the home court advantage, kicking off their season at the Bendat Basketball Centre for the first time in three years.
No team has had a harder run at it than the Lynx in that period. They spent all of 2020 in the Queensland hub, with players pulling out right before the season kicked off, then faced border restrictions and multiple interruptions in 2021/22.
Despite all this, they bounced back to finish their year one step away from claiming the championship.
Speaking to The Inner Sanctum at the WNBL season launch, captain Lauren Scherf is determined to start the season off on the right foot in front of a home crowd.
“Ryan [coach Ryan Petrik] hasn’t really dwelled on the past,” she said.
“It’s a new season, a new team, we’ve got new faces, including [Amy Atwell]. We’re excited to be able to play in front of a home crowd.
“For the first game to be a Grand Final rematch, we’ve got a fire in our belly.”Embed from Getty Images
It won’t just be one game where the Lynx will get the chance to set the tone.
They’ll start their season with eight of their first 11 matches at home, hosting the Boomers, UC Capitals, Sydney Flames, Adelaide Lightning and Southside Lightning across their first month and a half of fixtures.
Scherf believes that this will give them the opportunity to reconnect with the Western Australian basketball community.
“I’m actually really excited, just to be able [to give] the Perth community and fans [the chance] to have a proper home and away season,” she said.
“Having more than five home games will be great. To be able to be in that atmosphere will be really good for us Perth girls.”
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One of the locals that will get the chance to play in front of a home crowd for the first time is guard/forward Amy Atwell.
The 24-year-old has spent the better part of the last decade in the USA, rising through the college system in Hawaii before eventually being drafted into the WNBA.
While she was eventually waived by the Los Angeles Sparks, she did first play four games at the highest level of women’s basketball.
Set to play her first full professional year, she’ll take what she’s learned from the journey onto the court.
“I haven’t been able to play in front of my friends and family a bunch in the past six years,” Atwell told The Inner Sanctum.
“I learned to grow up very quickly. It taught me a lot, and I say grew up a lot and experience life away from family and that support system.
“I’m going to take a lot from it. I’ve grown a lot on and off the court in the past six years being away.
“There’s nothing in particular I’d say I take individually, but just kind of as a more rounded person and player. I just want to take the next step in my basketball career and have the best year I can, both off and on the court.”Embed from Getty Images
Perth has undergone a fair bit of turnover in the off-season, including a number of starting five players.
Imports Jackie Young and Marina Mabrey won’t be returning to the side, while guard Emma Clarke departed for opportunity elsewhere at the Sydney Flames.
2021/22 captain Darcee Garbin was identified by European scouts, making her way to Hungary after her rapid rise with the Opals saw her on the international stage.
But the likes of Scherf, Sami Whitcomb, Alex Sharp and new recruit Robbi Ryan still make for a formidable line up against any opposition.
“We still have a couple of the girls from last season,” Scherf said.
“Having a solid base of girls that have been around before really helps the culture, and to be able to bring all the girls together. It doesn’t feel much different. I’m looking forward to it.”
WNBL 2022/23 tips off on Wednesday night, as the Perth Lynx and Melbourne Boomers go head to head from 9:30pm AEDT at the Bendat Basketball Centre.
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