By Oliver Lees
The Sunbury Jets will have to face finals without their top scorer Jacinta Beckley in the Big V women’s state championship division.
Jets coach John White confirmed the forward from Wellington had returned to New Zealand to be closer to family and to play for the Capital Swish in the NZNBL.
Sunbury sits in second place on the table with 12 wins, two losses and boasts the best percentage (131.3 per cent) in the league.
Beckley has played a starring role for the Jets this season averaging 21.4 points per game, the fifth highest in the league.
But White said he’s confident the rest of the team is capable of stepping up offensively.
“Jacinta has been really transparent with us given the lockdowns and everything else, and we wish her the best,” White said.
“Obviously it’s sad to lose her because she’s been having an amazing season.
“Now it’s going to be more of a five-pronged attack, our focus is challenging our players to take on an attacking role.”
Given the ongoing lockdown restrictions affecting metro Melbourne, Big V has decided to cancel the remaining two rounds of the regular season.
The league is aiming to run a top four finals series over the weekend of Saturday, September 10 and Sunday, September 11.
A Big V spokesperson said that “while the league would like to provide a more extended training opportunity prior to the commencement of finals, we do not have the luxury of additional weeks to complete the season”.
“The overwhelming response to the ’latest completion date’ for the season was 18-19 September.”
White said he welcomed the decision but agreed a lack of training makes things harder for clubs. Players have been prescribed training exercises to complete at home.
If the league is able to play out the postseason without further delay, the Jets will face third place McKinnon in the semi final.
Despite sitting one game clear of their opponent, McKinnon has proven to be the Jets’ bogey team all season, with both losses during the season coming courtesy of the Cougars.
Amelia Todhunter has been able to overcome the Jets defence in both outings, scoring 43 points across the two matches.
“I think we’ve got a lot of grunt and physicality, we just need to focus on what we can do and not get sucked into their game,” White said.
“We set some really high standards for ourselves at the start of the and I think we’ve done a good job of maintaining that level of quality.
“The communication both ways between players and coaches has been great throughout the season, we’ve had to make adjustments but we’ve handled that well.”