By Lance Jenkinson
Werribee Devils had to overcome significant odds to achieve a fairytale championship in their first season back in the Big V basketball women’s top flight this year.
The Devils last tasted premiership success a decade ago and that was in the second-tier division 1.
Last year, the Devils finished sixth in division 1, so there was no indication of them being a team that would go up and pose a threat to the establishment.
The Devils women’s program has spent a long time in the wilderness – some would point to neglect, others would point to a slower than expected internal growth.
Either way, the Devils were a long way off the top of the women’s state championship mountain.
With this title, secured with a 2-1 series win over Keilor Thunder, in front of hundreds of the Devils junior girls and boys, the kids of the Werribee Basketball Association can begin to dream about what might be in their basketball futures.
“It will be a real shot in the arm for our program for the coming years,” Devils coach Reece Potter said.
“Hopefully all those young kids that watched, aspire to one day play in the Big V in 10 years time, so it’s a great day for the club.”
Werribee had to run the gauntlet in the playoffs.
The Devils had to survive an elimination game against Hume City Broncos to advance beyond the first week.
The second round saw Werribee facing back-to-back champions Sunbury Jets.
The Jets have owned this competition in recent seasons and the Devils not only had an enormous task of ending their dynasty, but having to do so on the Jets home court at Boardman Stadium in a do-or-die game.
After conquering the Jets, Werribee had to face one of the fiercest defensive units in the league, the Keilor Thunder, who had home court advantage. The Devils not only won the series, but took the deciding game on the road.
Potter said the calibre of his team’s victories meant his third-ranked team in the finals were deserving champions.
“Hume City, who we had to beat in an elimination final, were an outstanding team, really deep, really talented and a storied history at Big V level,” Potter said.
“Sunbury, everyone knows they’re the gold standard in recent years.
“Keilor is a defensive juggernaut, they make it tough, they’re physical.
“To get past those three teams was an outstanding effort by our group.”
So driven is he to create sustained success at Werribee, Potter was already looking into the future of what the program will look like hours after the grand final celebrations.
Potter is hellbent on ensuring the Devils are no one-season wonders.
“It’s about building a bit of sustained success and keeping that core together,” he said.
“We’re planning for that pretty quickly so we’re competitive year in, year out.”
While Werribee is content with its status as a Big V Basketball club, it will be knocking on the door of the new NBL1 competition about an entry into the league when spots open up in the future.
There are no western suburbs clubs in the NBL1 competition, which leaves a gaping hole if the league wants to capture the whole of metropolitan Melbourne and particularly the growing region of Wyndham.
For more on the Devils win, CLICK HERE