Louella’s Lightning open WNBL campaign on a high
"I'M UP there on the wall somewhere" Louella Tomlinson said with a grin as she surveyed Mackay Basketball Stadium after a gruelling WNBL opening night win over the Canberra Capitals.
Tomlinson's Adelaide Lightning survived a fourth-quarter scare from the two-time reigning champions to kick away in extra time and record an 85-73 victory on Wednesday night.
It marked a winning return to Mackay for Tomlinson, who played a key role for the Mackay Meteorettes in their 2012 and 2013 QBL-winning seasons.
Earlier this year, Tomlinson was named on the bench in the Meteorettes' Team of the Decade - testament to her considerable impact as both a player and person during her time in the red and black.
And though the Melbourne-born centre was in Lightning grey on Wednesday night, Tomlinson was still able to briefly appreciate being back on the court where she previously tasted so much success.
"Obviously we had a really successful couple of years when I was a Meteorette and it was just like old times. I was loving it," she said.
Tomlinson went 5-9 from the field and brought down three of the Lightning's four offensive boards in the gritty victory.
The 32 year old, who played her first competitive minutes since last season's WNBL grand final nine months ago, said it was important to "get that first win out of the way" and start the campaign on a positive note after a disrupted off-season.
"After us Melbourne girls got out of quarantine we had three and a half weeks (to prepare). So the whole time Chris (coach Chris Lucas) was like 'we're going to have to grind every game' and today playing overtime was no different," Tomlinson said.
"I just think for a lot of us, we haven't had that off-season, so it was going to be sloppy, there was going to be a lot of turnovers, a lot of missed shots (and) not being able to play through body contact.
"Everyone is excited though, you can tell. The energy on court was awesome."
Banking that first win against last year's champions would be a big confidence boost for the new-look Lightning, which has six rookies in the mix, Tomlinson said.
"For team morale obviously the first game is huge. Just to get that first win out of the way," she said.
"It's always a bit of 'how is this season going to go' when you start out. Now we just have to continue and keep this run going."