Natalie Hurst – Suncoast Clippers
The women’s Player of the Week for Round Two of the 2015 season is Natalie Hurst from the Suncoast Clippers, after putting in a huge effort to overcome a persistent and dogged Brisbane Capitals side at the weekend. After a relatively tight tussle for much of the match, the Clippers found themselves down 56-47 at three quarter time, battling an in-form D’Lesha Lloyd who was dominating the scoring for the Capitals. After a shaky start to the quarter with Brisbane pushing their lead out to 14 points at one stage, Hurst fired up and piled on 16 points in the final quarter, taking advantage of a number of fouls to extend the Clippers’ score-line from the charity stripe, to eventually help grab the 80-77 victory. By the final siren, Hurst had racked up 31 points at 50% success in the field, 60% at the perimeter and 92.3% from the foul line, as well as four assists, three rebounds and two steals, playing an instrumental role in the win.
It’s Hurst’s first season with the Clippers, and her inclusion to the side is set to give the team a much-needed lift after a number of lack-lustre seasons. Hurst had a successful five years with the Gladstone Power, where she won three QBL championships 2009, 2010 and 2011, and also named in the QBL All-League team in 2009 and 2010. Her final season with Gladstone saw her take out the Player of the Week title in Round One of the 2013 season, after hitting 28 points at 55.6% success in the field and 50% at the three-point line, in addition to five steals, three rebounds and a massive 17 assists in the Power’s 94-67 win over Rockhampton Cyclones. She played 11 games that season, averaging 18.8 points per game at 42% in the field, 5.2 rebounds and 9.7 assists per game. Her phenomenal assists contribution earned her the 2013 QBL Women’s Assists Leader award.
Hurst holds six WNBL championships with the Canberra Capitals, and has been named in this year’s Australian Opals squad, also featuring in 2009, 2011 and 2012’s national squads. She won a gold medal with the Australian team at the World University Games in 2007, and at the 2009 FIBA Oceania Women’s Championships. She has also spent a number of seasons in Europe, recently averaging 11.1 points for Turkish team Canik Belediyesi in 2014, Hungarian team UNI Gyor in 2012-13, where she averaged 12.4 points, 4.8 rebounds and 4.6 assists per game for the side in the Euroleague, and 14.3 points at 63.4% at the perimeter, four rebounds and 4.3 assists per game in the Hungarian league. Hurst has previously spent time with French team Aix-en-Provence, and during the 2011-12 season was named in the All-Imports Team for averaging 15.5 points per game.
Other strong performers from Round Two included Brisbane’s D’Lesha Lloyd who put up 33 points and took 12 rebounds in an effort to get the win over the Clippers, while Ipswich’s Bree Farley put in a solid game in their convincing win over Toowoomba, with 22 points, 10 rebounds and five assists. Rockhampton’s Nicole Michaels played a solid role for the Rockhampton Cyclones during their three wins on the road – with 19 points against Cairns, 12 points and five rebounds against Gold Coast and 17 points and nine rebounds against Logan. Tami Willey shone for Mackay against Townsville, with 22 points and 10 rebounds in the win, while Bundaberg’s Carly Boag was productive with 23 points and 11 rebounds in the Bears’ win over Brisbane.
Chehales Tapscott – Rockhampton Rockets
Despite a gruelling triple-header on the road, the Round Two men’s Player of the Week showed no mercy against the opposition, with Rockhampton Rockets import Chehales Tapscott contributing a phenomenal 95 points and 43 rebounds during his team’s two wins and one loss at the weekend. The Rockets faced their toughest opponent first up on Friday night, overpowered by a dominant Cairns Marlins outfit 85-77, with Tapscott putting in 17 points and eight rebounds in the loss. The Rockets bounced back the following night against Gold Coast Rollers, enjoying a 131-105 win, with Tapscott back in form and putting on a show – contributing 40 points at 69.6% in the field, along with a huge 18 rebounds, four assists and two blocks. He then shook off any fatigue the following day against a determined Logan Thunder, pulling massive numbers again with 38 points at 73.7% in the field, 17 rebounds, two assists, one steal and one block to help the Rockets secure the 112-103 victory.
The impressive start to Tapscott’s 2015 QBL campaign follows a stellar debut season in the league in 2014, where he racked up a number of accolades, not least a championship ring with the Rockets. The forward was the league’s leading scorer with an average of 30.25 points per game, was named in the All League Team, and was also named the league’s Most Valuable Player for 2014. He was also named Player of the Week three times last season, with efforts of 34 points and 11 rebounds in Round 10, 38 points at 74% in Round 2 and 27 points and nine rebounds in Round 1.
The Oregon native returns to Rockhampton after spending the off-season with Japanese team Bambitious Nara, where he averaged 18.5 points and 9.4 rebounds per game.
He had an impressive 2013 season with US team Vancouver Volcanoes in the International Basketball League, where he was named league MVP after averaging 23.3 points and 13.2 rebounds per game. It came off the back of a Rookie of the Year performance of 28.6 points per game for the Salem Soldiers. Tapscott graduated from Portland State University where he averaged 14 points, nine rebounds and three assists per game, and led the NCAA Big Sky Conference in rebounds and blocks.