Thrown In The Deep End

Image courtesy of Akuna Photography

For Ashleigh ‘Splash’ Spencer, making her WNBL debut last weekend really was like being thrown in the deep end. Playing her first two matches against the Wattle Valley WNBL title favourites — SEQ Stars and Townsville Fire — meant there was no easing her way into the season. The soon-to-be 23 year old scored four points in her seven minutes in total on court last weekend, and loved every second of it. “Playing WNBL for the first time was definitely nerve-racking at first, but then turned into a feeling of exhilaration and excitement,” she said.

“This weekend was just such an amazing experience that I am extremely grateful for. “As for getting on the scoreboard, it definitely wasn’t a goal of mine for the weekend, but of course it was a great feeling and good to get it out of the way.” Spencer said playing in yet another chapter of the legendary Bendigo vs Townsville rivalry was awe-inspiring. “The team did a fantastic job of turning the momentum around from Friday to Saturday. I think the biggest contributor to that was just directing the focus onto ourselves and the things that we could control during the second game,” she said.

“That was obviously a winner because we came away with that huge win on Townsville’s home court. “Calling the Townsville game a great feeling is an understatement. It was an amazing feeling to come home with the win. “I have only watched from afar the battles that these the Spirit and Townsville have been involved in during the past few years, so I can only imagine what it feels like for the girls who have experienced them first hand. “I’m just so proud of everyone on the team. The culture is magnificent and we are all playing for each other, the club and Bendigo.”

The South Australian has spent the past four years in America, playing College basketball. She said there was a noticeable difference in the WNBL. “The difference that struck me the most was the atmosphere, the importance of every single play, and the pure talent that this league holds,” she said.

Coach Simon Pritchard said Spencer’s importance to the team will grow the longer the season goes. “Developing our bench players is a key focus of mine, especially in the first half of the year,” he said. “Splash has a high basketball IQ and will be a versatile four-man who will bring great screening and rebounding to the team. “She has good perimeter range and a canny ability to find the ring in the key.”

Photo: Steve Blake, Akuna Photography

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