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Lightning hoping Kathryn is great

ADELAIDE Lightning are hoping to suit replacement WNBL import Kathryn Westbeld on Friday when they host top four rival Melbourne Boomers at The Lighthouse, Titanium Security Arena.

Westbeld, 23 and a 188cm US "big", replaces Crystal Langhorne who has had surgery for her knee injury and will not be returning in Season 2019-20.

A teammate of current Lightning import Brianna Turner at University of Notre Dame (the pair pictured together below), Westbeld was instrumental in the Fighting Irish's 2018 NCAA championship success, averaging 7.7 points at 59 percent, and 5.2 rebounds per game in her senior season.

Starting in 31 of 32 games during her collegiate career, Notre Dame was 82-9 when she was in its starting line-up and post-college Westbeld won a training camp contract with the WNBA's Los Angeles Sparks.

“Kathryn is a great get for us, particularly at this point of the season,” Lightning coach Chris Lucas said.

“Crystal was a big loss but Kathryn has played with Bri, and we also had good reports on her from one of our former players, Natalie Novosel, who similarly played at Notre Dame and still has connections there.”

Westbeld has been playing for IDK Gipuzkoa in the Spanish Basketball League, Adelaide confident she will arrive this week.

Langhorne opened the WNBL season for Adelaide with an impressive 20-point, 13-rebound double-double in its 89-79 win over Sydney Uni Flames but pulled up sore post-game, aggravating a pre-existing knee condition.

She travelled with the team to Canberra for the grand final rematch but was unable to suit for the game and subsequent scans suggested an operation was necessary for her to return to the court.

With two further years to run on her WNBA contract with the Seattle Storm, Langhorne returned to the US for the surgery, Adelaide activating training squad member Jennie Rintala for three games.

Adelaide has successfully kept Langhorne's return to the US quiet, aided by its run of road games.

But in last week's blazing 105-77 home demolition of Bendigo Spirit, her absence behind the team bench where fellow key injured forward Laura Hodges was sitting with DP Jasmin Fejo, was glaring.

Lightning’s 2018-19 assistant coach, Jason Chainey, now in a similar capacity at Washington State University, also scouted Westbeld for Lightning.

“I think she is a worker and will be a real nuts and bolts sort of player,” he said.

“She is a smart, energetic gritty defender who works hard off the ball and doesn’t mind physicality.

“Because she is physical, she has the ability to be able to play players bigger than her and can either defend length or switch onto #5 players.”

Adelaide is in equal-third place on the WNBL ladder on a 4-2 record with Melbourne Boomers, making Friday's game particularly significant.

Lightning will wear this specific jersey (as shown below, worn by captain Nicole Seekamp) in support of the Feast Festival on Friday.

Nov 18

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