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2018 SEASON PREVIEW: LAUNCESTON TORNADOES
Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Departing:
Olivia Chugg, Nina Howard, Bec Abel, Tayla Roberts.

Returning:
Lauren Nicholson, Lauren Mansfield, Emma Haywood, Jayde Brazendale, Ellie Collins.

Newcomers:
Ally Wilson, Mikaela Ruef, Paige French, Ali Partridge, Jess Johnston, Sophie Ackerly, Ishoa-Jade Cook, Aishah Anis, Sam Chilcott.

Fixture:
The Tornadoes start their season at home against the Kilsyth Cobras, enjoying seven out of their first ten games with a home court advantage. They will face their home state rivals Hobart in round two, and then again in round 14.

Overall:
Launceston faced a run of four consecutive seasons in which they missed the playoffs earlier this decade but they have improved to make the Conference Final over the past two years. The next step is to now claim the Championship and with a roster worthy of the WNBL, this could be the Tornadoes’ year.

They have done well to retain the services of Lauren Nicholson who finished second for the club with 17.2 points per game in 2017 while shooting 47% from the field and 34% from long range. She is also a tough and committed player who pulled down 7.4 boards per game and with her crashing the glass alongside a couple of monster forwards, Launceston will back themselves to own the rebound count in most games. She will line-up alongside Lauren Mansfield who is coming off a season in Europe while she was named in the All-SEABL Second Team last year after recording 15.7 points, 7.5 rebounds and six assists per contest. Also on the Opals radar ahead of the World Championships later this year, Mansfield will be playing with a point to prove in 2018.

After missing a year, Alex Wilson is back in the fold at Launceston and with her game continuing to grow thanks to her time at Sydney Uni in the WNBL, she is sure to have added a few weapons to her offensive arsenal. While Nicholson and Mansfield are more than capable of getting on the glass, their efforts may not be as required with Mikaela Ruef returning. She spent a quick sojourn in Hobart but is back with the Tornadoes this season where she has averaged around 15 points and 15 rebounds and she is a more than capable replacement for Tayla Roberts.

In additions, stalwarts such as Ellie Collins and Ali Partridge will boost their depth and while their second unit could be their only weakness, the Tornadoes’ starting five should be enough to carry them into a strong position come finals time.