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Cougars add Turnour-McCarty to championship defence

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The Cockburn Cougars have wasted no time planning for their NBL1 West championship defence with the signing of the versatile Regan Turnour-McCarty after she had a strong first season at the Goldfields Giants.

Having grown up in Brisbane, Turnour-McCarty spent the 2021 and 2022 seasons playing in the NBL1 Central competition playing with the Woodville Warriors before then making another move interstate to join the Goldfields Giants in 2023.

While she might ideally be best suited to playing as a wing, she ended up spending a lot of the season in Kalgoorlie as the point guard and did a fine job. It’s her versatility that will become a significant asset for the Cougars looking towards 2024.

Turnour-McCarty ended up delivering 40 points, seven rebounds and eight assists in her two games for the Giants against the Cougars in the 2023 NBL1 West.

That helped Cougars coach Tyrone Thwaites decide he wanted to bring her on board, but so did the versatility she provides where she genuinely can play as a point guard, as a scoring guard, as a wing or even if need be, can play as a four.

Having a player that versatile was something Thwaites felt could only help in the Cougars’ championship defence, but he’s also looking forward to her becoming part of the Cougar Family in more areas than just what she offers on the floor.

“She was someone we really liked during the year, and while we alike the offence we run, there’s a part of her game that really suits our identity,” Thwaites said.

“We thought at different stages during the year we might have been one shooter short to help space the floor with Jessie.

“Regan helps our spacing and she’s a long wing, she is a solid defender, and ran the point for Goldfields when they were decimated with injury. While it’s not her natural position, we know she’s got the capability to pinch hit there.

“She also loves kids and loves coaching, which is a big part of our club’s identity, so to have another adult in the program who can educate our young athletes in the off-season and pre-season meant there were too many boxes ticked for us to not explore signing her as an option.”

By playing against the Cougars twice during the season and then seeing them win the NBL1 West championship, Turnour-McCarty couldn’t help but be impressed with how they operated and knew she wanted to be part of it.

That meant that when coach Thwaites wanted to talk to her about the possibility of coming on board, it didn’t take much convincing.

“It was just really the winning culture and how I saw it with them from an outsider point of view last season. It was pretty cool to see and it was mainly that winning culture that attracted me the most to want to come into Cockburn,” Turnour-McCarty said.

“From what I saw, everyone on their team played really well together last season and if it wasn’t one person’s night, it was another person’s and it didn’t really matter to them as long as they were winning. Everyone seemed to be enjoying playing in that team environment so it looked like something I wanted to be part of.”

It turned out to be a tough season for the Giants in 2023 purely just on a personnel front with them losing key players Amanda Wayment, Olivia Berry, Rachel Kehoe and Chloe Zorzi along the way in a season where they won just the four matches in the finish.

However, they found a way to still be competitive and Turnour-McCarty was key to that ending up averaging 12.9 points, 7.0 rebounds and 4.9 assists a game including 31 points against the Joondalup Wolves along the way.

“It was tough at times with the injuries that we had from where we started the season to how we ended it,” she said.

“No one could have guessed that’s how it would have gone, but I still enjoyed playing every week. I love it no matter what and there’s always the opportunity to go out and get better, and the group of girls I played with were always positive.

“We never really gave up and while it was tough, at the same time I still enjoyed it and loved it a lot.”

While Turnour-McCarty had enjoyed the previous two seasons in Adelaide and playing in the NBL1 Central competition including averaging 13 points and six rebounds a game at the Woodville Warriors in 2022, she felt the level was significantly higher playing this past year in the NBL1 West.

“I personally think it’s a huge difference from where I was playing, just with the competitiveness and the level,” Turnour-McCarty said.

“I think it’s a lot better standard over here overall I would say. Back in Adelaide, you have some great individuals and some great players there, but overall here the level is much stronger with the depth and it’s a much better league.”

Having initially moved from Brisbane to Adelaide to play the previous two seasons in the NBL1 Central competition, Turnour-McCarty was after a fresh challenge and didn’t want to go home, and was looking to test herself further.

That’s where the combination of coming to live in WA and play in the NBL1 West seemed like the best option. She couldn’t have been happier to have been living and working in Kalgoorlie the past 12 months, and to spend a season playing at the Giants.

“I’m originally from Brisbane so I made the move from there to Adelaide two seasons ago, and I loved being able to make that move for basketball,” she said.

“Obviously being away from home can be tough because you miss your family and friends, but I enjoyed it a lot.

“I didn’t necessarily want to go back home and wanted to try playing in a different league besides Central so that’s why I ended up coming over here. Then the opportunity to play in Kalgoorlie came up and I just took it because I knew I didn’t want to go back home.”

Not only is Turnour-McCarty looking forward to joining the Cougars for what it will be like to be on the court with them during the season, but she’s also looking forward to the first chance to live in Perth and to become part of the Cougar Family in all areas.

“I’ve loved WA so far since coming here and obviously there’s a long season ahead next year and you never know what might happen, but I could definitely see myself staying here for many years.

“At the moment I’m doing support work, I support people with disabilities and I enjoy that,” Turnour-McCarty said.

“But I’ve always done a lot of coaching especially during the season by going out to schools and doing basketball clinics as well as Aussie Hoops. I love the coaching side of it and interacting with the kids so I’m hoping to do the same in Perth as well once I settle in there.”

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