Suddenly they all laughed, they couldn’t help it, almost as if they were sitting in a hilarious comedy movie with bags of popcorn. This picture didn’t fit at all with what the Wasserburg basketball players had just shown, nor with the gloomy sentence that their department head Johanna Retzlaff later said in the foyer of the Badria Hall: “If we go down again, that would be basketball died in Wasserburg.” The women of TSV Wasserburg, who until a few years ago were still the German subscription champions, are alone at the bottom of the table after their relegation from the upper house in the second division. That was before the basement duel against TSV Speyer -Schifferstadt last Sunday – and also after that. But for that short moment everything was fine. And afterwards you asked yourself: can it really – if they still manage to turn things around this season – in the end everything only on this one, wrong coincidence hanging?
You try such a shot thirty or forty times, said playmaker Levke Brodersen later, until one goes in. The 28-year-old had only made it just over the halfway line on the left-hand side of the field when the clock ran out in the second quarter and Brodersen, the former national team player, sent the ball on its way at random. The previous attacks had had a devastating effect, an airball from Manuela Scholzgart, in which the ball missed the ring, a bad pass from Brodersen and a fatal loss of the ball by Christina Schnorr in front of her own basket, which helped the guests to the supposed 26:24 lead at the break. But thanks to Brodersen’s lucky shot with the break siren, the hosts went into the dressing room with a 27:26 lead – laughing. “Such a buzzer beater is always somewhat symbolic,” said Brodersen, he helped the team believe that it could work with a win. And it worked: 69:58 was the final score. It was the third win in the 13th game. “There’s still enough time,” emphasized Retzlaff.
The fans haven’t given up on their club yet, even though they’ve been through a lot lately. For a long time it was not certain whether the department would even try it in the second division after losing the main sponsor, with a remaining framework of German players, debts from the previous season and without the handful of professionals as before. With a new head of department, new management and, of necessity, a new concept. And then, even before the start of the season, things went wrong again. Laura Hebecker, one of the most experienced in the team, ended her professional career due to an injury. The only foreigner, Brittany Autry, came on time, but had to wait weeks for her work permit – which was due to the employment agency, as TSV chairman Bastian Wernthaler asserted, and not to an omission on the part of the club. Christina Schnorr, the second important addition, was often absent in the first few weeks, and an official responsible for management quickly resigned. Coach Rebecca Thoresen, who at least almost prevented the sporting relegation from the first division, was back in the way she no longer wanted to be: as the sole entertainer of a mini-squad without an assistant coach, who missed support.
Club manager Wernthaler assures that he never wanted to coach again. Now he is standing on the sidelines and trying to save.
Nevertheless, the grandstand was full on Sunday like in the best times in the first division. Thoresen meanwhile tried to shine a bit – but at home. While her daughter was in the hall as a walk-in child, her mother preferred to paint the children’s room. Shortly before Christmas, the native Australian, who won six championships as a player with Wasserburg, was relieved of her duties. That hurt, she says, especially when the club presented it to the outside world that without reinforcements, which she asked for (“that’s part of my job”), she would no longer have believed in the team. She calls it a “fairy tale”.
The decision was very difficult for her, said Retzlaff, the new head of department, especially since she knows how popular Thoresen is with fans and players. “I’ve always been impressed by their fighting spirit.” But an increase was “completely unrealistic” given the budget, but new impetus was needed.
This is now set by someone who was a champion three times as a coach, who actually wanted to stay out of the department and who said in the press conference after the game: “It’s no secret that I had imagined my life differently”: club boss Wernthaler. He never wanted to coach again, even his license had expired. Nevertheless, he wants to try it now, together with the youth coordinator Rita Quinz. It’s the last try.
Retzlaff likes what she sees now. Scholzgart, a good three-point shooter, is now better fed on the outside, on Sunday she scored three times from a distance. Autry, 1.85 meters tall and difficult to brake under the baskets, will now be used better there, and she will now receive regular additional units to remedy her athletic deficits. On Sunday she had 23 points and 15 rebounds. The fast Perner sisters now regularly stormed forward and made the spaces wide. In short: Wernthaler used all available competencies.
The desire for a change of coach did not come from the team, stressed playmaker Brodersen. It’s usually the simplest solution. “Bec had an absolutely difficult situation with many absentees and a small squad.” Nevertheless, Wernthaler is now giving new impetus. “We have a lot more speed, energy and aggressiveness on defense,” stated Brodersen.
On closer inspection – Wernthaler also made this clear – the offensive performance in the first half against Speyer was “catastrophic” and it was this lucky strike that paved the way. Many of the players have “won almost nothing” for a year and a half, sometimes “two or three throws have to be made – and suddenly it works”. Wernthaler was referring to the win against Speyer, but who knows: next Saturday (7 p.m.) the next home game is against Ludwigsburg. And maybe this lucky hit actually lasts longer.