Payne relishes extra responsibility

Nadeen Payne has been the Spirit's most consistent scorer this season.
Nadeen Payne has been the Spirit's most consistent scorer this season.

The silver lining to the Bendigo Spirit’s cloudy season has been the form of forward Nadeen Payne.

The season-ending injury to Spirit star Kelsey Griffin has given Payne more responsibility on and off the court and it’s a role she’s relished.

Payne is having a career-best season offensively, averaging 13.5 points per game, including six-straight double-figure hauls.

“It’s bittersweet when you’re playing better basketball (indivudally) this season, but the team is losing more games,’’ Payne said.

“My goal this season is to be consistent and that’s what I’ll continue to aim for.”

Griffin has taken Payne under her wing in a bid to help develop the sweet-shooting forward’s game

“Kelsey is my mentor, so she’s been really great in helping me with my leadership skills and being more assertive on the court,’’ Payne said.

“I’m really enjoying the role I’m playing in the team.”

Payne will need to continue her good form when the Spirit plays Melbourne Boomers (Thursday) and Townsville Fire (Saturday) this round.

Payne said the Spirit (3-10) would take a “nothing to lose” attitude into the road game against the Boomers (9-6) and home clash with the Fire (9-5).

“Some teams higher on the ladder might get complacent against the lower teams,’’ Payne said.

“A good example of that was on the weekend when Dandenong defeated Townsville by 20.

“We still have a chance (against the top teams). We’ve beaten Melbourne before and Townsville are beatable. If we play our best basketball we’ll be competitive.”

Payne is likely to spend some time on Thursday night guarding Boomers’ star Liz Cambage.

Payne will give up plenty of height and weight to Cambage.

“Liz is a key part of the Boomers game, but they also have some good shooters in Maddie Garrick and Jenna O’Hea,’’ Payne said.

“If we can restrict Liz to about 20 points and stop the others from having a big night then we’re going to be a good chance.”