Ma­jor mile­stone

BRIL­LIANT BAS­KET­BALL CA­REER CEL­E­BRATED WITH A WIN

Shepparton News - - SPORT - By Alex Mitchell

Mad­die Gar­rick’s bril­liant bas­ket­ball ca­reer was cel­e­brated on Thurs­day night as the Shep­par­ton prod­uct played her 200th Women’s Na­tional Bas­ket­ball League game.

And her Mel­bourne Boomers team de­liv­ered for the oc­ca­sion, smash­ing the Syd­ney Uni Flames 96-79 to move to 4-3 for the sea­son.

Gar­rick, 26, had nine points and two re­bounds in the mile­stone match, but the State Bas­ket­ball Cen­tre con­test was about far more than just num­bers.

‘‘To play a mile­stone game al­ways adds a bit of emo­tion and ex­cite­ment and I was just re­ally happy we got the win, our first win at home at the State Bas­ket­ball Cen­tre,’’ she said.

‘‘It was nice to be back on the home f loor and to get that win in the 200th.

‘‘I guess there were a few dif­fer­ent emo­tions. I tried in the lead-up not to think about it too much or re­flect back. You don’t want to work your­self up and get lost in the emo­tions.

‘‘(Thurs­day) night when I got home I sat down and thought about the process and path­ways that have helped me get to that mile­stone.

‘‘It’s been a fan­tas­tic ex­pe­ri­ence so far and you just want to keep it go­ing.’’

The two-time WNBL cham­pion and FIBA Women’s Asia Cup sil­ver medal­list with Aus­tralia said af­ter the mile­stone night had proved the per­fect time to sit back and re­flect on her jour­ney, from the Goul­burn Val­ley to some­where near the pin­na­cle of her sport.

It was a jour­ney that sim­ply would not have been pos­si­ble with­out a sup­port­ive fam­ily and her coaches, Gar­rick said.

‘‘Firstly I thought about how it all started back in Shepp and how I worked through from that to ju­nior pro­grams down in Mel­bourne,’’ she said.

‘‘Ob­vi­ously my par­ents have played a mas­sive part, I wouldn’t be paus­ing in my life to ref lect on 200 games if it wasn’t for their ded­i­ca­tion.

‘‘I was trav­el­ling down to Mel­bourne twice a week for six years ba­si­cally and, if I hadn’t, I wouldn’t be play­ing the game still.

‘‘There’s a lot of coaches too that have had so much in­flu­ence on me and there’s so many chal­lenges both per­son­ally and on a team level that cre­ate ob­sta­cles that we’ve over­come.

‘‘You sit back and think about achieve­ments, like mak­ing the Opals, 200 WNBL games. I ac­tu­ally just started play­ing bas­ket­ball be­cause of broth­ers and now I’ve made a ca­reer out of it.’’

Af­ter a heart-break­ing WNBL grand fi­nal se­ries loss to Townsville in Jan­uary — Gar­rick’s first taste of the de­cider since back-to-back ti­tles with the Bendigo Spirit in 2012-13 and 2013-14 — the Boomers are start­ing to find form that could take them back to the promised land.

Gar­rick has started the sea­son av­er­ag­ing 11.8 points a game with 32 per cent shoot­ing from be­yond the arc and hoped her side could live up to the ta­lent it pos­sesses.

‘‘Even be­fore the sea­son I knew we had a tal­ented team, we’ve had some in­juries and I’m back in a start­ing role,’’ she said.

‘‘In the off-sea­son I did a lot of work off the court, on my mind­set and over­all mind­ful­ness.

‘‘I’ve tried to change my fo­cus and re­ally pre­pare my mind, that’s re­ally helped me make a good start.

‘‘How we per­form as a team makes it eas­ier to play my role, the style we’re play­ing re­ally suits me and that’s mak­ing me feel more con­fi­dent.’’

The su­per­star shooter could not let the mile­stone go with­out thank­ing all the peo­ple in her life who of­fer sup­port.

‘‘A lot of peo­ple have reached out to me and I haven’t been able to get back to ev­ery­one,’’ Gar­rick said.

‘‘I’ve read ev­ery­one’s mes­sages and seen all their posts, I re­ally ap­pre­ci­ate it heaps and it means a lot to me.

‘‘Hope­fully I can keep help­ing in­spire the younger ath­letes com­ing through.’’

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