New basketball network
Horsham Hornets men’s and women’s teams will put their skills to the test against competition from different towns following a Country Basketball League expansion.
The league has introduced a northwest conference for the 2017-18 season to cater for strong demand for the competition.
League co-ordinator Sammy Cartwright said 56 teams from 29 associations, including four from South Australia, would compete in an expanded four-conference format.
“League numbers have been steadily rising for the past six years and this has resulted in a requirement to consider the CBL conference structure, to ensure a fair and equitable competition,” he said.
“The number of teams entering from the central and northern areas of country Victoria have resulted in the introduction of a north-west conference to accommodate them and keep travel to a minimum.”
Horsham Amateur Basketball Association has been one of the south-west conference’s top teams for several years.
The association’s Country Basketball League representative and player Matt Lovel said following a reshuffle, Horsham would join the new northwest conference.
“We didn’t really mind too much which conference we were put in,” he said.
“We would’ve liked to have won the south-west conference after getting close a few times, but it will be good to play against some new teams.”
Stawell Wildcats will not participate in the CBL this season, however Ararat Basketball Association will form part of the south-west conference, fielding Redbacks men’s and women’s teams.
“It’s great to have another Wimmera team in the competition,” Lovel said.
“It’s strange that we won’t be playing in the same conference as Ararat but I think they wanted to balance the amount of teams in the conferences.
“We would’ve liked to have a Wimmera rivalry, but that’s just how it goes.”
Horsham will compete against Bendigo, Castlemaine, Kyneton, Maryborough, Mildura and Swan Hill, while Ararat will go head to head with Colac, Millicent, Mt Gambier, Portland, Terang and Warrnambool.
Lovel said the Hornets looked forward to the challenge.
“We assume Bendigo will be the main team we’ll be up against because they use the CBL as a stepping stone into Big V and SEABL competitions,” he said.
“Mildura is similar, they also have a Big V team. They might even use it as a stepping stone for their juniors.
“We don’t know much about the others.
“All the clubs have women’s teams, except for Mildura, which is just a men’s competition.”
Lovel said the Hornets had started training, which would ramp up following the conclusion of football and netball commitments.
“Our team will be similar to last year’s and we’ve got a couple of juniors coming through, which will be one of our main focuses,” he said. “We’re looking forward to the season getting underway.”
The Hornets have re-appointed Cam Bruce as men’s coach and Gareth Hiscock as women’s coach.
The 2017-18 season starts on October 14, with the schedule due to be released on September 5.
RESHUFFLE: Cam Bruce will again coach the Horsham Hornets men’s team for the 2017-18 Country Basketball League season – this time in a new conference. Picture: PAUL CARRACHER