By GREGOR MACTAGGARTmactaggartg@gladstoneobserver.dyndns.org
THE TRIED and tested adage 'two steps forward, one step back' could be the best way to describe the past year of 2005 in Gladstone basketball.
The sport's local flagship, the Port City Power enjoyed vastly improved fortunes in their second Southern Cross season, while at club and junior level, the game continues to thrive.
Focusing on the Power and 2005 is sure to be remembered as a year of progression for the men's and women's teams.
Each of the sides finished with 4-14 win/loss record's and sixth place finishes.
Under new coach Dean Page, the men were competitive in the majority of their matches, but an inability to play a full 48 minutes proved costly.
Even so, there were highlights, with the 21-point win over the Gold Coast Rage and a clean sweep of close rivals Bundaberg standing out.
On the court, the form of Josh Gill was a standout and it was no surprise he won the league Most Valuable Player (MVP) award.
Gill averaged 24 points and 11 rebounds per game, a tremendous effort and thrilled the Kev Broome Stadium fans with his massive slam dunks.
Skipper Glen Chapman also had a fine year, averaging 18 points per game, while the form of Nick Such, Aaron Nagas and the Green brothers ? Tarron and Daniel was notable.
The team have added to their roster for next season with the signings of Chris Green and Ryan Scott, so hopefully the Power can continue their climb up the ladder in 2006.
2005 was also an improved year for the women's team who handed away their wooden-spoon with aplomb.
Injuries and unavailability of key players hurt the Power early in the year, with coach Shane Brown having to work in tough circumstances.
Brown, a popular member of the local basketball fraternity stepped aside for personal reasons after round seven and Danny Page filled the breach.
Thankfully, Page was able to get a full team onto the court and the wins began to arrive.
On the court, Diana Neves was clearly the standout.
Neves was a revelation, scoring a league-leading 24 points per game and finishing in the top three in steals.
Unfortunately, Neves suffered a severe knee injury on the eve of her debut US college basketball season with Tusculum College.
Hopefully she can bounce back when she returns on-court. Others to feature prominently were skipper Kasey Bowman and Leonie Macks, while the always consistent Prue Carlyon was a fine performer.
2005 may also be remembered as the year in which the team's younger players such as Paige Wharton, Carla Pirie and Nicole Just gained some priceless on-court experience.
Next season promises to be an intriguing one for the team, under the guidance of coach Ben Claughton who is the team's fifth coach in three seasons.
Shifting away from the Power and club basketball again proved to be successful.
The level of play on show has no doubt lifted since the introduction of the Power and the players enjoy the opportunity to play in a social atmosphere.
Devils tasted double glory in men's division one, winning their deciders in June and November, while Lions Tigers and Tigers were victorious in the winter and summer seasons.
In more events from the year passed, former Gladstone resident Naomi Schouten was selected in the Australian Gliders women's wheelchair basketball team, while at junior level, the association produced a impressive number of representative players.
Overall, the year was a top one, but I am sure those involved with Gladstone Basketball would like to build up more (the Power in particular) in 2006.