A POTENTIALLY serious knee injury to rising star Cassidy McLean took some of the shine off Newcastle Hunters’ convincing 75-48 victory over reigning Waratah Basketball League women’s champions Norths Bears at Newcastle Basketball Stadium on Saturday night.
McLean is scheduled to have scans on Monday to determine the extent of the injury she suffered with less than three minutes left in the first quarter.
It was initially feared that the 19-year-old guard, who had just completed the Women’s National Basketball League season with Bendigo Spirit, tore her anterior cruciate ligament.
McLean was fouled while attempting a lay-up and fell to the floor clutching her right knee.
Play was stopped for about five minutes while she received medical attention then she was assisted from the court and watched the rest of the game from the bench with ice strapped to her leg.
“It was good to start our season with a win against the defending champions on our home court but it was disappointing to lose Cassidy to an injury like that,” Newcastle coach Shannon Seebohm said.
“She’ll go for a scan on Monday to see what we’re dealing with and hopefully it’s not too serious.
“Defensively, we played with good intensity and made Norths work hard for their points but we still have a lot of work to do at both ends of the floor because we can play a lot better than that.”
Norths eliminated Newcastle in the semi-final last year on their way to securing the title. Newcastle dominated the rematch on Saturday, leading 17-8 at quarter-time and 27-22 at the half before breaking broke the game open with a 25-10 third quarter to take a 52-32 advantage into the final period.
In her first appearance for the Hunters, former Norths guard Kallie Hovatter came off the bench to spark the team with 15 points, eight rebounds, three assists and two steals.
Hovatter was on target with her first three three-point attempts and combined with Jaimee Seebohm to lead Newcastle’s defensive effort against Bears guards Muffy Loader and Kate Seebohm.
Hannah Young (17 points, five rebounds), Jasmin Howe (16 points) and Lara McSpadden (14 points, seven rebounds) all scored in double figures, and Jaimee Seebohm threatened to post a triple double, amassing seven points, eight rebounds and eight assists.
The Bears bit back in the men’s game, overpowering a young Newcastle side 74-51 and reversing the result of the 2018 grand final.
The Hunters made a promising start to lead 17-14 at quarter-time and were still in contention trailing 34-30 at the long break but the Bears turned the defensive screws in a 23-8 third quarter then extended their lead in the fourth.
Norths out-rebounded the Hunters 56-38 and made just nine turnovers to Newcastle’s 19.
Alex Clinton (13 points) was the only Newcastle player to score in double figures.
Lonnie Funderburke had nine points and eight rebounds in his first game for the Hunters, and fellow import Sharif Watson was held to five points, eight rebounds and four assists.
Newcastle’s next games are against Penrith Panthers at Penrith next Saturday.