By David Nagel
Pakenham Warriors coach Simo Pajdic believes his team is right on track to achieve its ultimate aim of playing finals in Big V Division One Women’s basketball.
The Warriors, promoted from division two after a successful 2019 campaign, had the perfect start to the season before a rough weekend leading in to Easter saw the team settle with a two-two beginning to this year’s competition.
“We got promoted from last season so there was a bit of unknown about this year but I’m pretty happy with a two-two start to the season,” Pajdic said.
“We’re currently second on the ladder after dropping both games last weekend, against a really good Chelsea team and then a tough loss against Mildura, but overall we’re pretty happy with where we sit right now.
“Playing finals would certainly be a pass mark I think. We have real faith in the squad we’ve got and I think the potential is there to certainly achieve that aim.”
Despite being promoted Pajdic said it was important to build from within and not be lured into the trap of securing players from other clubs. The Warriors have one or two notable inclusions but have pretty much stuck to a proven recipe from recent seasons.
“We had very little turnover but have brought a couple of girls into the squad that have had a positive impact on the group,” he said.
“We have tried to stick with what worked for us last season and a few of our youth league girls have made their senior debut this season which is really exciting for the club moving forward.
“It’s important we keep that synergy between the women’s team and the youth league team so we both progress at the same rate. To have our feeder program participating at the same level as our senior squad is what we’re aiming for so the step up to senior basketball doesn’t seem so great.”
Pajdic praised the impact of Sarah Slater – who joined the Warriors this year after playing the game at a higher level
“Sarah has been great for us coming across from Nunawading; she has had a fantastic impact on the group and is a fantastic athlete and a very good four or five,” he said.
“She’s been invaluable for us so far, not just with her numbers, but with her presence on the court.”
Louise Karajic-Powell has also done extremely well at youth league level and is pushing her case to be promoted to the senior team on a more regular basis.
Caitlin Demczuk, Keeley Patterson, Tarryn Wilkin and Taylor Jones have also impressed through the early rounds of the season.
Pajdic said he was impressed with the commitment of his team with travel plans being ramped up in the higher division.
“It’s a massive commitment and does consume most of your weekends,” he said.
“We have Warrnambool and Mildura in our division this year so it takes a lot of dedication and commitment to compete at this higher level of the game. We didn’t have as much travel in the lower division but that’s okay.
“It’s the same for everyone and we don’t use that as an excuse.”
The Warriors have a bye this weekend before heading to Bellarine for their next encounter on Saturday April 17.
Pakenham’s next home-court assignment is against Warrnambool on Anzac Day, Sunday April 25, starting at 4pm.