They might still both be only 16 years of age, but they are already NBL1 West championship winners and teen sensations Kinley Paterson and Amelia Corasaniti can’t wait to have an even bigger impact on the Cockburn Cougars as they lock in for the next two seasons.
There were so many reasons why the Cougars were so successful in 2023 including new additions Steph Gorman, Sarah Mortensen and Patty Brossmann, the continued emergence of Jewel Williams and Jessie Edwards, and the leadership of Kirsty Whitfield and Kahlia Morgan.
However, what 16-year-old pair Paterson and Corasaniti provided was the great bonus, and the teenage duo of tenacious guards had a significant impact on the Cougars breaking through for the club’s first ever women’s championship.
Quite simply, they made life hell for the opposition guards they hounded throughout the season and that extended into the Grand Final triumph against the Willetton Tigers.
It’s just the start of their basketball journeys too and coach Tyrone Thwaites can’t wait to continue working with the pair in the off-season and then going into the 2024 NBL1 West season.
“They’re so much fun and we love them both. While they are similar in a positional sense, they are also so different in a lot of ways,” Thwaites said.
“Kinley’s change of pace virtually goes unmatched in the league which is absolutely crazy. Some of the things she did this year, we call her ‘Dash’ like The Incredibles character because that’s how quick she is.
“The girls have photoshopped her head a few times too.
“We talk with our players about three columns of opportunity – hard work, talent and whether you are high or low maintenance. Both of them are incredibly hard workers, they are pretty talented and getting better, and both are low maintenance so from a coaching perspective its the absolute dream.
“Ultimately it’s a really exciting time for our program to have two have young girls who are potentially elite level guards of the future in NBL1 and beyond.”
Despite the fact that she is only 16 years of age, Paterson has already played 36 games in the NBL1 West and is a championship winner, but already is excited to continue to improve further looking towards 2024.
“I’m already excited for next year to start with by putting in the work in the off-season and pre-season,” Paterson said.
“I know the team next year as well is just going to keep getting stronger and we have such a young group that everyone is improving. We’re just going to keep moving forward and will try to dominate again next year.”
Seeing how much winning a championship with the Cougars meant to so many people, young, old and in between, made the occasion even more special for Paterson and sharing it with retiring captain Kirsty Whitfield was the icing on the cake.
“It was just a great feeling seeing how many people were in the crowd watching and how we can influence all the younger kids as well who were able to see us win. It was pretty special to be part of,” she said.
“It was an amazing feeling just being with her because she’s put in so much effort for so many years. Just to help her in a small way to win a championship was a really good feeling and I was so happy for her to get that moment to finish her career with.”
It’s totally understandable for someone so young to be a little overwhelmed by being thrown in the deep end of going out to play against professional players, WNBL stars and some of the best players in the country.
However, nervous is the furthest thing that Paterson looks once she hits the court and she just focuses on going out to do her job, and make life mighty tough for whoever she is guarding.
“Sometimes it’s nerve racking realising that you are a big part of what’s going on with the team, but you just have to put that behind you and just go out and play, and give your best when you get out there. That’s what I always try to do,” Paterson said.
“I just tried to go out there and do what Ty’s telling me to do. That’s to play good defence, to lockdown the other team’s point guard and that was my main role. So I just tried to play defence and then the offence would just come to me in the flow of the game.”
Paterson might only be 16, but she’s not afraid to set goals for her basketball future and in the short term, that’s representing Western Australia and getting better every day.
“I do have a few goals I’ve set myself including stuff like making the state team and improving as a point guard in NBL1 as much as I can,” she said.
“Those are my main goals right now that I’m trying to work towards throughout the off-season.”
Corasaniti originally was part of SEDA after moving to Perth this year from Narrogin, but has now started a scholarship at the WA Institute of Sport, and she can’t hide how excited she’s feeling for the 2024 season now that she knows what to expect from playing at NBL1 level.
“I’m super keen for next year. Now I know the game better and what to expect more so I’m very excited coming into this second year,” Corasaniti said.
“Just knowing what it’s like now is going to be a big help. In your first year you’re just clueless of everything and don’t really know what to do or to expect, but now that I’ve got that out of the way it’s pretty helpful.”
Corasaniti still struggles to find a way to explain how well everything in 2023 went on the court with the Cougars as she not only got to play, but had a significant impact on being part of history with the championship win.
“It was my first year in NBL1 so I guess it was pretty unreal to get to come in for the first year and winning the Grand Final,” she said.
“I didn’t really know what to expect either or what it would be like making the Grand Final in my first year, so I’m still pretty gobsmacked with how well it turned out really. It’s weird to think it went so well.”
Corasaniti had no idea what to expect coming into 2023 about what playing in the NBL1 West competition would be like, and she still finds herself explaining it to people back home in Narrogin who can’t believe what she’s doing aged 16 either.
“I don’t know, it’s just weird and I don’t really know how to explain it because at home no one really understands what I was a part of,” Corasaniti said.
“I had the whole of Narrogin watching me play and they were so surprised that I was playing with and against women who were older than me, and who were actual WNBL players. It was hard to explain but it was an amazing experience this year and hopefully it’s just the start.”
Not only was the NBL1 West season full of highlights for Corasaniti, even though the result didn’t go their way at the National Finals, sharing the court and playing against Kelly Wilson of the Bendigo Braves was a special experience.
However, playing against Katanning local and Perry Lakes Hawks product Megan McKay might have even topped it for her.
“Tyrone and Russell (Hann) spoke to me about it before we played them in that game to fill me in about how many years she’s played in the WNBL, so that made me pretty excited to get out there,” she said.
“Even just to stand on the court with her, but then to actually play against her when you get to take her on, that’s when it was really cool.
“The same with Meg McKay, obviously I don’t play the same position as her so we didn’t match up, but just being on the same court was pretty cool. She’s from Katanning and that’s not far from Narrogin so when I found that out it was pretty crazy.”
Since the Grand Final triumph and the National Finals a week later, Corasaniti has certainly not had time for any rest from the basketball court and that’s exactly how she wants it if she wants to continue to get better every day.
“I still had WABL 18s to play and we just won the Grand Final for that so I haven’t really stopped playing at all or had a break yet,” Corasaniti said.
“I’ve also got a scholarship at WAIS now so I spend my gym sessions and on-court sessions there during the week, and I’m still getting some sessions in with Russell at Wally, me and Jaya (Scafidi) and sometimes Zaya (Black).
“We just ring up and Russell and tell him we want to work out. I don’t want to stop working on my game and the off-season is where you get ahead of people.”