MAC Adelaide Lightning sign four more locals and a Kiwi international as momentum builds for 2016-17 WNBL season


MAC Adelaide Lightning have contracted four more South Australians and a locally-based international for the club’s WNBL “rebuild campaign” of 2016-17.

Norwood Premier League championship-winner Chelsea Brook, North backcourt pair Sarah Elsworthy and Shannon McKay, South shooting guard Ieva Nagy and Sturt’s New Zealand Tall Ferns playmaker Jordan Hunter all have been secured for the forthcoming season.

Hunter was signed by the Sabres after the aspirations of Lightning-bound point guard Dani Angley were cruelled by an ACL tear during the Premier League season.

The quintet join four-time Olympian Laura Hodges and fellow South Aussies Alex Ciabattoni and Jess Good, along with imports Samantha Logic and Colleen Planeta, plus centre recruit Tayla Roberts in coach Chris Lucas’ new-look team.

Lucas has Brook — whose consecutive three-pointers in the fourth quarter of Saturday’s grand final win over West ended the championship-decider as a contest — regularly working out with Lightning legend Rachael Sporn.

“I have Rachael mentoring Chelsea because we can see tremendous potential,” Lucas said.

“She is a 6-3 (191cm) SA country kid who has been training particularly well.

“With Sarah Elsworthy, I’m really looking forward to her progress over the next few years as she can play both guard spots and is training very well.”

Lucas, as assistant-coach of the Tall Ferns in the New Zealand outfit’s ultimately unsuccessful Rio Olympic Games drive, sees a big upside in Hunter, who looks the likely back-up for Logic.

“Jordan brings international experience and has worked hard for her chance to play WNBL,” Lucas said.

“Ieva (Nagy) had a taste of the league last year and I’m looking forward to seeing what she can bring as a defender on top of her shooting ability.”

Throwing out a career lifeline to McKay has been a particularly popular decision, the talented Rockets guard far more versatile than the one-dimensional three-point shooter previous Lightning groups perceived her as.

“I’ve seen some real progress in Shannon’s game from when I left Adelaide,” Lucas said.

“She’s been injured (of late) but I had no hesitation signing her to a contract.”

Lucas has placed a premium on his squad not only comprising mostly South Australian players but also “good people”.

“It’s a terrific group,” he said.

“We’re going to have some ups and downs, as you’d expect, but I’m very happy with the direction we’re heading.”

Home in Adelaide after originally succeeding Jan Stirling as Lightning coach in 2004, as a head coach or assistant, Lucas has been involved in seven of the past eight WNBL grand finals.

The Townsville Fire club he rebuilt from a near-penniless basket case will be defending the championship to which he steered it last season.

The Fire went to five finals series under Lucas, including four straight grand finals and back-to-back championships.

Rebuilding MAC Lightning, his main concern has been retaining South Australian players to ensure the club is a genuine pathway for budding local players.

Any other recruiting only has been to fill spots not already covered in the Premier League.

Quality South Australian players such as Abby Bishop, Cayla George, Tess Madgen, Stephanie Talbot, Olivia Thompson, Nicole Seekamp and Alex Wilson — currently contracted interstate or overseas — all are on the club’s longer-term radar to bring back home during Lucas’ tenure.

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Author: Boti Nagy

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