Basketball: Rising Star plan move into different universe

Pentland STAR women’s basketball side have shown they are a force to be reckoned with after a season which has seen the club excel to a new level.

The newly-crowned Lothian League Division One champions have produced five-star performances on the court and are already plotting for next season.

Secretary and club captain Veronica Walls has paid tribute to the endeavours of the squad who not only achieved a treble this year with success in the league and two cup competitions, but also managed to maintain a 100 per cent record on their way to a season of domination.

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Walls said: “We managed to acquire quite a few European players with three Spanish and one French player and they have made a huge difference as they are quite exceptional. We have enjoyed a great bond within the team and have been quite social this year so I think that has really helped and has been the recipe for our success. We are all relatively in the same age group and we had a few meetings along the way to make sure everyone was willing to pitch in with fund-raising and things like that, so I think there has been a real togetherness.

“Every single team we’ve defeated this season has been by more or less 20 points and that’s down to what we have as a team. Normally Pentland Star finish mid-table or something like that, so it’s great to have won the league as we haven’t achieved the title for quite a few years.”

The Edinburgh side’s success this season has whetted the club’s appetite for a crack at the national league with Walls revealing discussions have already taken place with Basketball Scotland about the possibility of entering into the fray from as early as next season. However, despite Walls’ confidence, that the players possess the necessary skills and ability to take that next step on the court, she remains wary of the demands that will ensue off the court as well.

“We’ve had discussions about going into the National League.” Walls said. “If we can keep the same group of players and attract a few more and the money and sponsorship come together, then it’s definitely something we would consider.

“We would still have the team represented in the local league as some players just can’t commit to the demands the National set-up requires. It would be nice to try it, though, even if it was only for just a year as I think the team is more than capable of competing at that level.”

The club appears to be in the safest of hands and is thriving within the junior scene, which includes an under-18 boys’ side, and is looking forward to welcoming a new addition with the launch of an under-12 section next month.

The club who play and hold their training sessions at Firrhill High School, also act as a feeder club for the men’s Pentland Tigers basketball side with both under-16 boys’ and girls’ age groups. Looking farther afield, however, Walls is sympathetic to the constraints Basketball Scotland endures with restricted budgets a constant battle for the sport’s national governing body.

Walls added: “We probably have about 30 juniors playing in addition to the 15 players we have in our squad, so it’s continuing to grow. It’s not massive but I think the problem is you never hear about any women’s basketball whatsoever. There needs to be a greater awareness of the game and that starts with the promotion of the sport.

“We’re due to go to San Marino next month and we still don’t even have any strips yet. But, unfortunately like most things, having sufficient funding is often the big problem.”