Champion point guard Kristi Harrower has taken out the Bendigo Bank Spirit’s Most Valuable Player award for the third time.
The 38-year-old superstar received the gong at the Spirit’s gala presentation evening at The Foundry Hotel last night.
Harrower produced a vintage season to lead the Spirit to its first Women’s National Basketball League championship, averaging 15.4 points, 5.5 rebounds and 6.5 assists per game.
With the curtain poised to come down on Harrower’s career, the MVP award could be the final accolade for one of Australian basketball’s greats.
Among the many highlights are four Olympic medals, a world championship gold and the WNBL MVP award in 2009-10 – when Harrower also won her second Spirit MVP.
“It’s just been another sensational year from her,” Spirit coach Bernie Harrower said.
“She’s just the proverbial red wine I suppose, she’s just gotten better and better as the years have rolled on. I think when you look at point guards, that’s as good as it gets.”
Harrower led the league in assists this season, 169, and finished third for total points, 401.
She also won the Spirit’s best Defensive Player and Assist-Leader awards.
Retiring forward Chelsea Aubry’s contribution in her four seasons in Bendigo was recognised with the Inspiration Award.
“It’s recognition of what she’s brought to our club. She’s a lot like Kristi in that she does inspirational things that win you games,” Bernie Harrower said.
“Superstars find ways to win games and she has that trait within her.”
Following a career-best season, Spirit centre Gabe Richards won the Consistency Award.
Richards scored double figures in 22 of her 25 appearances and contributed almost 16 points a game.
At 188cm, Richards gives away plenty of height to her opponents, but she still managed to lead the WNBL in rebounds, 218, and offensive boards, 103, this season.
“It’s one of those years when we could have given out three MVPs between Kristi, Kelsey (Griffin) and Gabe,” Harrower said.
“Gabe has had what I would consider her best year for us, she proved that in the grand final on Sunday with 20 points and eight rebounds.”
Richards also won the Spirit’s Rebounding Award, and Griffin took home the Leading Scorer gong for averaging 16.5 per game.
Maddie Garrick has shown she’s got the talent to be among the next crop of Spirit stars and was named Player on the Rise last night.
The Shepparton junior joined the Spirit this season after three seasons at the Australian Institute of Sport.
“I think that Maddie Garrick’s a sleeper within our group,” Harrower said.
“For her first year out of the Institute she was really good and I think she’s going to be a star of the future. She can be anything.”