Sport

Major milestone for Maddie Garrick

By Alex Mitchell

Maddie Garrick’s brilliant basketball career was celebrated on Thursday night as the Shepparton product played her 200th Women’s National Basketball League game.

And her Melbourne Boomers team delivered for the occasion, smashing the Sydney Uni Flames 96-79 to move to 4-3 for the season.

Garrick, 26, had nine points and two rebounds in the milestone match, but the State Basketball Centre contest was about far more than just numbers.

‘‘To play a milestone game always adds a bit of emotion and excitement and I was just really happy we got the win, our first win at home at the State Basketball Centre,’’ she said.

‘‘It was nice to be back on the home floor and to get that win in the 200th.

‘‘I guess there were a few different emotions. I tried in the lead-up not to think about it too much or reflect back. You don’t want to work yourself up and get lost in the emotions.

‘‘(Thursday) night when I got home I sat down and thought about the process and pathways that have helped me get to that milestone.

‘‘It’s been a fantastic experience so far and you just want to keep it going.’’

The two-time WNBL champion and FIBA Women’s Asia Cup silver medallist with Australia said after the milestone night had proved the perfect time to sit back and reflect on her journey, from the Goulburn Valley to somewhere near the pinnacle of her sport.

It was a journey that simply would not have been possible without a supportive family and her coaches, Garrick said.

‘‘Firstly I thought about how it all started back in Shepp and how I worked through from that to junior programs down in Melbourne,’’ she said.

‘‘Obviously my parents have played a massive part, I wouldn’t be pausing in my life to reflect on 200 games if it wasn’t for their dedication.

‘‘I was travelling down to Melbourne twice a week for six years basically and, if I hadn’t, I wouldn’t be playing the game still.

‘‘There’s a lot of coaches too that have had so much influence on me and there’s so many challenges both personally and on a team level that create obstacles that we’ve overcome.

‘‘You sit back and think about achievements, like making the Opals, 200 WNBL games. I actually just started playing basketball because of brothers and now I’ve made a career out of it.’’

After a heart-breaking WNBL grand final series loss to Townsville in January — Garrick’s first taste of the decider since back-to-back titles with the Bendigo Spirit in 2012-13 and 2013-14 — the Boomers are starting to find form that could take them back to the promised land.

Garrick has started the season averaging 11.8 points a game with 32 per cent shooting from beyond the arc and hoped her side could live up to the talent it possesses.

‘‘Even before the season I knew we had a talented team, we’ve had some injuries and I’m back in a starting role,’’ she said.

‘‘In the off-season I did a lot of work off the court, on my mindset and overall mindfulness.

‘‘I’ve tried to change my focus and really prepare my mind, that’s really helped me make a good start.

‘‘How we perform as a team makes it easier to play my role, the style we’re playing really suits me and that’s making me feel more confident.’’

The superstar shooter could not let the milestone go without thanking all the people in her life who offer support.

‘‘A lot of people have reached out to me and I haven’t been able to get back to everyone,’’ Garrick said.

‘‘I’ve read everyone’s messages and seen all their posts, I really appreciate it heaps and it means a lot to me.

‘‘Hopefully I can keep helping inspire the younger athletes coming through.’’