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Edwards puts Cockburn’s improvement down to defensive growth

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Jessie Edwards has never enjoyed her basketball more than this season with the undefeated Cockburn Cougars and she has no doubt the team’s improved defence is behind their place on top of the NBL1 West.

Edwards is in her third season with the Cougars on the back of a 2022 campaign where she was the dominant centre in the NBL1 West being named to the All-First Team.

On the back of that, she played with the Perth Lynx this past WNBL season as part of the team that reached the finals and now has had another standout start with a Cougars team who is undefeated after the first six games of the NBL1 West season.

Edwards is delivering another 17.2 points and 8.8 rebounds a game this season for a Cockburn team on a perfect 6-0 record as they prepare for a Round 8 double-header away to the Perth Redbacks on Friday and then at home to the East Perth Eagles on Sunday.

For Edwards, that means two fascinating match ups against Lauren Scherf and Maddie Allen across the weekend, but her focus is all about the team and continuing to enjoy being part of this Cougars set up.


Over the past two seasons since Edwards joined Cockburn, the growth has been there with a playoff win in each of the 2021 and 2022 seasons, but the Cougars were focused on continuing their upward trajectory.

Edwards feels that the combination of the team improving their defence this season to be only conceding 61.3 points a game as well as not losing their offensive potency, and then how well the players all get along is behind how well they are performing.

“I’m really enjoying this season. All of the girls that we have on the team are just lovely people and there’s a real good team chemistry. It’s always so much fun whether you’re on or off the court being around each other because they are a great bunch of girls,” Edwards said.

“I think defence has been our key this year. In previous years we didn’t have too much trouble scoring but we did have a lot of trouble keeping the other teams to a lower number.

“I think over the off-season, our team really had a different mindset about defence and placed it a bit higher on our list of importance. Everyone has really bought into it and the defence has definitely driven our offence as well.”


Going back to last Friday night at Wally Hagan Stadium and it was another dominant showing from the Cougars beating the winless South West Slammers by 66 points.

But beyond that and it was a significant occasion for the Cougars with captain Kirsty Whitfield reach her 200-game milestone. Edwards and the rest of her teammates weren’t going to let her not celebrate the mark with a victory.

“It was an important night not only to keep the winning form going but 200 games for KP is such a big achievement,” Edwards said.

“As anyone knows around our club, she’s such an important person and member of our team. We call her mum jokingly because she pretty much is like a mum to us all on the team. We wanted to put up a good game not only to get the win but for her as well.”


As good as the Cougars have been to start the season with the six wins with a 32.7 average winning margin to be the lone undefeated team in the competition, there’s still a key player to arrive.

While Steph Gorman and Sarah Mortensen have made significant impacts on arrival this season, Patty Brossmann is soon to join them after her season in Italy too.

Edwards is looking forward to soon sharing the frontcourt with her and hasn’t forgotten the 62 points and 20 rebounds that Brossmann did have for the Rockingham Flames in the two match ups against Cockburn last season, including a 41-point, 12-rebound performance almost exactly a year ago.

“That’s really exciting to have Patty coming into our team. I remember she had a fantastic game last time we played against her last year so she’s obviously a fantastic player,” she said.

“It’s super exciting knowing that we still have someone to come in because I feel like our team is so strong at the moment already. Just to add Patty as well it will add another element for us.

“It will also add another scoring threat, another defensive threat and just another match up that will be hard for people to cover I think.”


Now looking ahead to this weekend and it’s the first double-header of the season for the Cougars beginning on Friday night against the Perth Redbacks at Belmont Oasis and on then on Sunday back at Wally Hagan Stadium against the East Perth Eagles.

What that means first up for Edwards is a match up with new Redbacks arrival Lauren Scherf who has signed there for the rest of the season.

Edwards and Scherf have a long history together including most recently being teammates at the Lynx this past season. They have spent much of their basketball lives playing against one another dating right back to national championships in their teenage days.

Edwards is now looking forward to matching up with one of the country’s premier bigs.

“I’m really looking forward to playing against Lauren again,” Edwards said.

“I think it will be a really fun match up and obviously she’s still settling into her team so we’ll see how it goes but I’m really looking forward to playing against her again.

“She’s such a strong and smart player so it’s always really fun to play against her. We did that at training a lot at Lynx and now it’s going to be fun to do that in a game again.”

Edwards won’t be trying to pump the match up too much, though, or getting too much banter flowing with Scherf in the build up.

“I honestly won’t be trying to build it up too much or anything, I just prefer to keep focused on what I’m doing and then when it gets to game day show up and try to be the better team on the night,” she added.


Once Edwards gets that battle with Scherf out of the way, her focus will then turn to another long-time rival when the Cougars host the Eagles when she comes up against another of the league’s best centres, Maddie Allen.

“I’ve played against Maddie Allen a lot so I think we’re a good match up for each other as well,” Edwards said.

“We’re both similar kind of post players in the sense of being very basket oriented and skilled around the basket, and being good at finishing around there. I always enjoy playing against Maddie as well so I’m looking forward to Sunday’s game.”


Even if Edwards didn’t have as significant of a role in terms of minutes on the Lynx this past WNBL season, largely because of the dominant presence of Scherf, she still enjoyed the experience being back in the league and part of a team that made the top four.

“It was good to jump back into the team this past season. It was really fun to be part of such a diverse and strong team, and being part of an offence that was very different to any other that I’ve played before,” Edwards said.

“Playing a bit different of a role in that team was a good experience for me to see where I can improve in some other aspects of my game, my outside game for example.

“It was a good season by the end of it and I feel like our team had gelled a lot more so it was a lot more fun by the end of the season once we learnt how to play with each other.”

Edwards also enjoyed the challenge to further develop her game and to embrace the way coach Ryan Petrik likes his players to play. She feels it was a terrific season in terms of her all-round development and growth.

“I think just with Ryan’s offensive philosophy it’s very focused on having loads of really strong outside shooters, and a bunch of guards,” she said.

“For example, Robbi Ryan is a master at getting her feet in the paint and I think that would have been a big reason why Ryan recruited her in the first place because he saw she had that really strong ability to get in the paint.

“It definitely put me in positions on the court I previously wasn’t used to and being on the outside. Even in our Cougars offence, I’m not really on the outside too much but it allowed me the opportunity to develop skills like my outside shooting a bit more, and just being more on the wings than I usually am.”

As for returning to the Lynx or playing somewhere in the WNBL, or even overseas, once this NBL1 season is done, Edwards isn’t sure on her plans just yet but being a year-round basketballer is the goal.

“I’m not sure what I’m doing this summer yet so that remains to be seen still,” she said.

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