Wildcats taste success in first PABA season

SUCCESS: Wildcats coach, player and founder Ryan Struck collected four premiership-winning medals in the club's first season in the Port Augusta Basketball Association.
SUCCESS: Wildcats coach, player and founder Ryan Struck collected four premiership-winning medals in the club's first season in the Port Augusta Basketball Association.

After seven consecutive A Men Grand Finals with South Basketball Club, Ryan Struck decided his club needed new uniforms.

But the sequence of events that followed Struck’s simple inquiry into replacing South’s outdated jerseys changed the shape of basketball in Port Augusta.

“When you’re affiliated with a football club name, people from Centrals and Westies didn’t want to come to South. I felt that kids weren’t coming to me simply because of the name,” Struck explained.

After discussion and consultation with his mum Carey, as well as players and parents from South, Struck’s vision of starting a new club began to take shape.

Struck took his idea to the Port Augusta Basketball Association and gained approval to bring the Wildcats to life for the 2017-18 season.

Fast forward to the end of their maiden season and Wildcats have reason to celebrate, winning four premierships including the A Men.

But Struck, who won the Best in Final award in the A Men Grand Final, said the club’s immediate success came as no surprise.

“We were able to put our kids in the right divisions so that they were able to improve their own individual basketball,” he said.

“The administration side of it was flawless in a way because all of the things that we wanted to do in the last three or four years at South, we were able to put in place from day one.”

Coaching all 11 Wildcats teams, as well as Spartans’ premiership-winning under 11 and under 13 girls, and a host of Port Augusta Devils combined sides, Struck certainly has his hands full.

Struck said his desire to see players take the next step is what drives him to take on so many coaching roles.

“Hopefully I’m able to provide them with the groundwork and the basic fundamentals of the game so that they can play at a level that is going to be beneficial for them,” he said. 

The 36-year-old aims to gradually take his coaching to the next level by completing further coaching accreditation and applying for an SA Country Basketball role.

But first he has his sights set on backing up the Wildcats’ decorated first season, which he only needed two words to describe – “unbelievably awesome”.