Southern Tigers Basketball Association (STBA) is an amalgamation of two Basketball Association of South Australia (BASA) member clubs that operated in a geographic area south of Adelaide in South Australia, Noarlunga City Tigers Basketball Club and Adelaide Southern Suns Basketball Club. This page is a brief factual account of the historic path each of the clubs took to this point.
The sport of Basketball in the State of South Australia was boosted after World War II by the influx of emigrants from Europe, especially from the Baltic countries. One group, Latvians, quickly showed their love of the game and their faith in their new country by forming their own club, the Adelaide Sports Klub (ASK) to compete in the top competition run by the District and Metropolitan Amateur Basketball Association using the initial letters ASK as the team name. In 1955 the Association constructed the Forestville Basketball Stadium and all league games were played there.
In 1958 Kevin Lynch advertised in the Catholic Newspaper, ‘The Southern Cross’ for young people interested in playing basketball at Forestville Stadium. The Catholic Youth or CY Basketball Club was born. For the record books, the Club’s colours were a brilliant purple and white.
The Noarlunga story legally begins in 1963 with the incorporation of Catholic Youth Basketball Club. CY fielded their top Men’s side in the District competition (now called BankSA State League) and a number of junior teams. They had no Women’s teams and did not have a team in the Metro A (now Division 2 Senior competition). In the mid 1960’s as the high birthrates of early and mid 1940’s (the baby boomer generation) began to be involved in sporting clubs the Association had already constructed indoor stadiums at Bowden and Marion and had made a big financial commitment to construct a 3000 seat stadium in Richmond to replace Forestville as headquarters for State basketball. Basketball clubs participating at league level were either district based, such as South Adelaide and West Adelaide, ethnically based such as ASK or religiously based such as CY.
The Association reasoned that for the sport to expand and to attract new juniors the ethnic and religiously based teams should change their names to names that are not associated with their origins and that meant using a geographic one, particularly those names used by football teams in SANFL. Thus, CY adopted the Glenelg Tigers name and colours of black and gold to attract players from the expanding south western suburbs centred around Brighton. ASK dropped the Latvians tag and became the Adelaide Giants Basketball Club with loose connections to the area around Rosewater in the north western suburbs.
Glenelg did not have the recruiting area to itself as there were at least two other influential basketball clubs in the general area that Glenelg were competing with for members. These were Plympton Rebels and the Forbes Basketball Club from the present Glenelg East, Morphettville, Plympton, Glandore region and in the early 1960’s they had merged to form the Forbes Rebels Basketball Club which at its biggest fielded 16 teams including juniors in the top competition. Their senior Women’s team competed at District level and their top Men’s team were in the Metro A competition, opposite to that of Glenelg.
1970 was a significant year for the Club, amalgamating with Forbes Rebels, who had a Senior Women’s team, to become the Glenelg Basketball Club — the Tigers had arrived with the delightful purple uniforms being replaced by black and gold uniforms.
By 1972, the Glenelg Men’s team was a grand finalist against the powerful West Adelaide combination. Glenelg did not cause any upset. The addition of Rick Hodges, Lutz Heim and Gerry Clarke over the next few years saw the Tigers progress to more grand finals — with the ultimate success of City of Adelaide and State Titles coming in 1976, with Tiger legend, the inspirational Laurie Harcus, captain coach of the team. After little more than 10 years at the top level, the Tigers had become a power. This rise was more than matched on the women’s side, with Brendan Flynn developing the team into a powerhouse of Australian basketball in the mid to late 70’s and earning him the position as coach of the Australian Women’s team. The talented line up contained Australian players Jenny Cheesman and Julie Nykiel and well supported by Heather Flynn, Tracy Morris, Lee Mickan, Ray Threadgold and many more.
Largest Club in South Australia:
In 1975 Jeff Carey and his fellow administrators had seen that there was little scope for growth and development in the Glenelg area. Jeff had the vision of tapping into the thriving population growth in the South. Encouraged by the local council BASA constructed a two-court basketball stadium on land adjacent to States Road and the Glenelg club promoted mini basketball competition there in 1975. At a meeting of the club on 26 October 1980 it was decided to change the name to ‘Noarlunga City Tigers Basketball Club Incorporated’ (NCT), the name change becoming official on 7 January 1981 . The club grew during the 1980's to become the largest basketball club in South Australia. This is evident through the subsequent building extension of the Morphett Vale stadium by two courts to form the present four-court complex.
The move to Morphett Vale also signalled the beginning of another unique contribution to the Club’s development – the appointment of Bev Chapman as Stadium Manager and Under 10 coach, heralded an extraordinary era of talent spotting, recruitment and coaching of the Club’s future stars.
The Men’s team’s success in the Apollo era of the late 70’s led to the Tigers joining West Adelaide as South Australia‘s pioneering teams in the National basketball League, (NBL) in 1979. Lack of funds saw the Tigers voluntarily step out of the NBL after only one year, being replaced by Forestville, who were in turn replaced by a composite Adelaide team which was a forerunner to the formation of the Adelaide 36ers.
NCT started another exciting era in 1981 when it recruited Dwayne Nelson from the United States (US) to play for the Club. Dwayne had a great career with the Tigers before becoming a key member of the 36ers 1986 Championship team. Ricky Simpson was another American recruit to capture the hearts of Tiger fans and was to become a key member of Tiger Championship teams. US players Willie Jennette and Willie Joseph were also to play key roles in Tiger Championship teams.
The men’s team competed in the fledgling National Basketball Competition in 1979 and in the South East Conference in 1981 and 1982 before supporting the composite City of Adelaide Eagles, the forerunner to the Adelaide 36ers. State League premierships were won by the Men’s team in 1976, 1977, 1992, 1993 and 1998 whilst the City of Adelaide Conference provided success in 1976, 1978, 1992, 1993 and 1995. Woollacott Medals have been won by Laurie Harcus (1976), Rick Hodges (1977) and Willie Jennette in 1990.
National and Olympic Representatives:
Noarlunga City Tigers Senior Women’s team have been regarded as one of the powers of Women’s basketball in South Australia over the past years. During the mid-1980’s the Tigers were clearly this states leading team having provided the Australian team with an Olympic coach, two Los Angeles Olympic players, one Seoul Olympian and the manageress for the National team.
Over the years the Tigers have provided many national and state representatives who have acquitted themselves with distinction. The senior women’s team regularly, competed in four major competitions annually for the decade from 1981, two intrastate and two interstate. The team was a regular competitor in the Australian Women’s Club Championships having won that competition in 1977 and 1984 and being runner-up in 1986. The Tigers competed in the Women’s National Basketball League since its inauguration in 1981 through to 1991 the team was a grand finalist in 1984 in this competition. State League premiership were won by the Tigers in 1978, 1979, 1984, 1985 & 1986 as well as being runners-up in 1977 and 1988. In the City of Adelaide Conference the Tigers were premiers in 1976, 1977, 1978, 1979, 1984 & 1985 and as runner-up in 1982. Former Australian team captain Jenny Cheesman was a triple Halls Medallist with the club (1974, 1977 & 1978). Other Halls Medallists have been Ann Misiewicz (1972), Heather Flynn (1975), Kay Todd (1982), Julie Nykiel OAM (1985), Sue Collins (1991) and Narelle Lindsay (1999).
Olympic representations was achieved by Jenny Cheesman – Captain (1984 & 1988), Julie Nykiel OAM (1984 & 1988), Brendan Flynn coach (1984), Donna Quinn (1984), Mark Bradtke (1988), Michelle Brogan (1996) and Carla Porter (1996& 2000). Mark and Michelle both represented Australia at Sydney 2000 Olympic games and, although playing in National League teams, (Mark – Melbourne Tigers and Michelle – Adelaide Lightning) are former Noarlunga juniors. Luke Schenscher, although only 19 years of age, held a scholarship with the AIS in 1999 and 2000 and is now attending a college in the United States . AFL Port Power footballer Dean Brogan was a Noarlunga junior Basketballer and attended the AIS. From there he played in two National Basketball League teams, 36ers and Newcastle , then changed codes to football for South Adelaide and now in an AFL side. His basketball skills make him a formidable opponent in rucking contests and marking.
The Tigers have a strong junior programme with teams competing in all age groups and divisions for both girls and boys. The club has been successful at the South Australian Club Championship held in May of each year. In 1992 the club was equal Champion with Sturt and won the Champion Junior Club trophy in 1994 & 1998 and were the Champion Junior Girls Club in 1994 and Champion Junior Boys Club in 1998 & 1999 and reserve Champion Girls Club in 1999.
Adelaide Giants and Southern Districts:
The Adelaide Southern Suns Basketball Club Inc. was formed in 1995 through a merger between one of the founding BASA member clubs, the Adelaide Giants Basketball Club, and the rapidly growing Southern Districts Basketball Association.
Adelaide Giants Basketball Club was dominant during the 1960’s and early 70’s. They were the first South Australian club to recruit an American import, Ziggy Kauls, and have supplied several Australian Olympians including Mike Dancis and Andris Blicavs who won back to back Woollacott medals (top male State Basketballer). The club has won two division one men’s and two division one women’s championships. In 1995 the Club’s division one men’s captain, Greg Olbrich won the prestigious Woollacott Medal. WNBL Adelaide Lighting player and Women’s Captain Vikki Kelson played for the Suns and during her time with the club was joint winner of the Halls medal (top female State Basketballer) in 1999 and went on to win it again in 2000 and 2001. Vikki was also a National Golden Hands award winner in 1999 and 2000.
The Southern Districts Basketball Association was founded in 1980 to provide an opportunity for children who were not accommodated by other clubs to play basketball in their local area South of O’Halloran Hill. They became the fastest growing club in the state, reaching 37 junior teams within ten years but did not have membership status with BASA.
The merger between the Adelaide Giants and Southern Districts encouraged by BASA created a club with the opportunity for strong junior and senior development in the expanding Southern suburbs of Adelaide and provided some serious competition between themselves and the Noarlunga club for the talented youth of the district. The Club originally operated out of the Hallett Cove High School. Despite the promise of being housed in new purpose built stadia, the Club made its home at the Noarlunga Leisure Centre, one of the few member Clubs to operate out of a commercially based non BASA stadium.
The amalgamation of the Adelaide Southern Suns with Noarlunga City Tigers in 2003 was a local decision which recognised that the continued success and growth of the sport was dependent on; the consolidation of finite resources in the South; a desire to adopt a business plan that promoted basketball, specifically in the South; and, to provide affordable opportunities for people to participate in the sport of basketball, at all levels.
The result, has been the smooth merging of two founding member Clubs into one new vibrant Club. The new entity recognises that it is the people of the Club that inspire basketball excellence, through their attitude and commitment. The ideal that supports working hard, having the correct attitude and commitment are the keys to success and enjoyment on the court and in life itself.
The Southern Tigers Basketball Association will make every effort to engender a culture that possesses the qualities for success and continues to strive for basketball excellence.
John Ramsey OAM,
Written: 11 November 2003.
The STBA acknowledges the contributions of Mr Gerry Clarke and Mr Greg Love in the production of this paper.