The majority of the OneFortyOne Mount Gambier Pioneers women’s team’s history is covered with COVID-19, but the playing group led by Jasmin Howe is desperate to forge a path of its own.
After a slow start, a new-look women’s team found its groove as the 2021 season progressed and climbed its way up to 16th on the ladder with three wins over Sandringham, Hobart Chargers and Ballarat.
But just when the Pioneers started to build momentum, COVID-19 struck again and the team was forced to endure more time on the sidelines.
Even the preparations for the 2022 season have not been smooth, with COVID-19 restrictions circling around the entirety of the preseason.
OneFortyOne Mount Gambier Pioneers coach Matt Sutton said it had not been easy, but the fortitude shown by the girls had shone through.
“It has happened really quickly because we have had interruptions with COVID and people arrive late because that’s how it works,” he said.
“The ability for the girls to connect really quickly and roll with the punches and keep the train moving forward has been really impressive.
“We have been training since November and there have never been any complaints and they just keep moving.
“That base-level will hold us in good stead, but we have a long way to go.
“We are an unproven team with a lot of good pieces.”
The team will once again be captained by Jasmin Howe, who also shoulders the shooting load of the team being the highest scorer last season.
Howe will be joined by the tenacious Shakera Reilly who made a lasting impression last year, as did Sherrie Calleia.
Calleia was a regular member in the team’s best, who would not stop fighting until the final buzzer and is fresh from some WNBL experience in Sydney.
Hannah Young is another familiar face who is primed to play a big offensive role, while rising talents Sophie Miles, Maddy Wormald, Olivia Wormald and Johanna Jones are back for more after showing some promise last season.
The squad has been boosted by some big-name recruits with imports Cassanda Brown and Haleigh Reinoehl in town and ready to take the NBL1 South competition by storm.
Brown is a towering figure from Canada who has stayed match-fit by playing in the World Cup qualifiers and has a NCAA three-point contest win next to her name.
The US-born Reinoehl is a competitive beast and can play all over the court having most recently played in Germany.
Georgia Winter and Tenielle Human are the other new additions to the playing list and have impressed with their work rate and attitude.
With the 16th and 17th placed sides facing off, the Pioneers will be eyeing a win over Diamond Valley to open 2022 in style.