Faith Probst was hoping she could sneak away into retirement.
After a glittering career at WNBL and SEABL level, the four-time SEABL championship winner wanted to play out Saturday night’s SEABL women’s Grand Final against Kilsyth Cobras then exit stage left.
Enter best friend and teammate Amelia Todhunter who messaged Rangers’ coach Larissa Anderson on game day to make sure her coach knew the 31-year old forward’s plans.
Soon enough Anderson passed on the news to all the Rangers’ starting a flood of tears for the close knit side whose core have long played at the club.
“I can’t imagine a better way to bow out,” Probst said post game.
“I didn’t want to make a big deal about it but Larissa called me this morning and asked me if I was retiring so I had to admit it.
“I just feel like I don’t love the game as much as I should and I’m 31 now so I feel like maybe there are other things I’m going to try.
“I’ll still be around and watching games every now and then.”
Probst gave her usual determined effort on defence and found a few baskets as well while Todhunter showed she had regained top form despite missing 13 weeks of the season with a knee injury with 19 points, 10 rebounds and five assists.
Todhunter was named the Grand Final’s most valuable player as the Rangers’ won their fourth SEABL women’s championship in six years with a 76-63 win.
“I am so ecstatic, words couldn’t explain how I am feeling,” Todhunter said.
“I have to give the girls all the credit because they all stepped up in the 13 weeks I was out.”
Both Probst and Todhunter admit they were teary and nervous leading into the game, something unusual for two players who have played in many previous grand finals.
“I came into the game really nervous, mainly because we choked a bit last year and the year before,” Todhunter said.
“I really wanted to get the win, especially for Faith Probst in her last game.”
Anderson paid deep tributes to her players post game saying there was no other players she would want to go to war with and that she knew her veterans would lift their defence for the big occasion.
“For all my “tanties" during the year when they fall asleep defensively, in the back of my mind I know they will bring it for the big games,” Anderson said.
The Rangers’ core of Todhunter, Probst, Alison Downie, Clare Papavs, Amanda Hobba and Jacinta Kennedy are all well into their careers and Anderson knew it was a risk to reveal Probst’s retirement on game day.
“I was weighing up whether I tell them or not,” Anderson said.
“Someone of that calibre deserves to be celebrated so I sent the message out today so they could be warned.
“A lot of them are going to play WNBL this season so who knows [if we lose other players] but we are going to miss Faith – she has been an amazing person for the league and us.”
Anderson also enters a new role over the summer when she takes charge of Dandenong Rangers’ WNBL side although she will have Todhunter, Kennedy and Aimee Clydesdale among her players.
That move could make it hard for her to back up again next season for the Rangers SEABL side but it hasn’t been ruled out.
“I don’t know when this title will sink in or if we will have time for it to sink in as we have WNBL training on Monday,” Anderson said.
“I’d have never believed we would have success like this, it’s four titles in six years and I didn’t coach one of the years so it’s four in five years really.”
Anderson also made a point of publicly acknowledging the season of Cobras’ coach Sam Woosnam who gave birth to her first child early in the season and returned a few weeks as her side progressed to the Grand Final.
Anderson has continued to coach while having her children and said she wanted to see more women and more mothers coaching at national level.
“We need more women, more mums and more working mums so I’m super proud there is someone else there,” Anderson said.
“Maybe I’ve shown somebody that it’s doable to wear those hats, it does put a lot of pressure on everybody else – it is different being the mum.
“That’s why it’s fantastic to see Sam coming through, she was a great player and she is clearly a great coach who has a big future.”
SEABL Grand Final notable performances
*Dandenong’s Amelia Todhunter put an interrupted season behind her with 19 points, 10 rebounds and five assists to win the Grand Final most valuable player award.
*Rangers’ forward Jacinta Kennedy was a constant presence with 17 points and 11 rebounds while Clare Papavs found a sneaky 11 points.
*Rangers’ guard Aimee Clydesdale was damaging with 12 points and four assists.
*The Rangers shot 32-76 (48 per cent) from the field compared to the Cobras’ 25-72 (32 per cent) while the Cobras won rebounds 42-38 but lost the assist count 17-12.
*Cobras forward Rosie Moult played through a nagging back problem to score a team-high 14 points including four of eight three-point shots.
*Cobras’ guard Steph Cumming had 13 points, seven rebounds and five assists but struggled with her shot making just 5-20 from the field.
*Cobras’ import Cassandra Sant battled out the game with 12 points and seven rebounds despite tweaking her knee midway through the game.
SEABL media links
*Dandenong Journal’s Jarrod Potter (@JarrodPotter) filed this comprehensive report on the Rangers’ win in the SEABL women’s Grand Final. Report: http://dandenong.starcommunity.com.au/journal/2015-09-13/faith-no-more/
*Leader’s Megan Hustwaite reported on Kilsyth Cobras’ SEABL women’s Grand Final loss and their successful season. Story: http://www.heraldsun.com.au/leader/outer-east/kilsyth-fights-until-the-end-in-seabl-championship-loss-to-powerhouse-dandenong-rangers/story-fnrwkho1-1227524867110
*A lively Steve Smith (@Stevesmithffx) penned this Grand Final match report for the SEABL website. Report: http://www.seabl.com.au/index.php?id=257&tx_ttnews%5Btt_news%5D=10368&cHash=a82f5b9d52
*Smith also filed a match report on the SEABL women’s grand final. Report: http://www.seabl.com.au/index.php?id=257&tx_ttnews%5Btt_news%5D=10369&cHash=9f727316be
*The SEABL website also reports on the league award winners. Report: http://www.seabl.com.au/index.php?id=257&tx_ttnews%5Btt_news%5D=10367&cHash=c334e6f325
*Border Mail’s Chris Young reports on the Bandits’ grand final loss. Report: http://www.bordermail.com.au/story/3346152/bandits-agonisingly-short-of-ultimate-prize/?cs=10
*Young also reports local star Matt de Koeyer will retire from the Bandits. Report: http://www.bordermail.com.au/story/3346285/thats-all-for-champ-wes/?cs=10
*Ballarat Courier’s Melanie Whelan (@Melanie_whelan) reports on Melbourne United and Cairns Taipans’ preseason game in Ballarat. Report: http://www.thecourier.com.au/story/3346045/nbl-action-gives-fans-taste-of-home-product/?cs=63
*Hobart Mercury’s Adam Smith reports Hobart Chargers are looking for a new coach. Report: http://www.themercury.com.au/sport/local-sport/hobart-chargers-to-search-for-another-coach-after-ben-rush-resigns/story-fnj92b0f-1227515993829
*The Age reported on new Melbourne United signing Emmanuel Golong. Story: http://www.theage.com.au/sport/basketball/melbourne-united-signing-emmanuel-golong-in-right-place-after-street-fight-20150912-gjl1v2.html
*The Age also reported on former SEABL star Patty Mills’ hopes for the upcoming NBA season. Story: http://www.theage.com.au/sport/basketball/san-antonio-spurs-star-patty-mills-embraces-bigger-role-with-his-nba-club-20150912-gjl2it.html
*SEABL YouTube has a full replay of Mt Gambier’s SEABL grand final win. Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sNmSU5ifyNg
*SEABL YouTube has a full replay of Dandenong’s SEABL women’s grand final win. Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3Twgp-Q9u34
*Australian legend Lindsay Gaze’s speech to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame after being inducted over the weekend. Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ifdAw2P_qlE