TERANG Tornadoes coach Michael Payne will notch up his 100th Country Basketball League appearance this weekend.
Payne has been a massive part of Terang basketball over the past two decades, starting as a player in domestic competition before taking to representative squad duties as a junior.
“I put my name down and rocked up on a Friday night (local domestic), that’s pretty much how I got started,” Payne said.
“I would have been seven or eight years-old at the time, and I was certainly a fairly average player until I turned 11 or so.”
Payne made his CBL debut for the Tornadoes in 2010 as a 19 year-old playing under coach Marcus Rees and has witnessed first-hand the changing face of basketball in country Victoria.
“In 2010 we had a five team competition, it was Colac, Terang, Portland Mount Gambier and Corio Bay,” he said.
“I’ve seen a fair few different variations of the CBL over that time before it’s developed into what it is today.”
The Tornadoes’ CBL games record holder has been a linchpin for Terang since its resurgence into the competition.
“I haven’t missed a game since my first,” Payne said.
“I’ve played 99 in a row and to make 100 consecutive games is something that will be nice to reflect on down the track.”
Payne said there have been a couple of mainstays throughout his CBL career at Terang.
“Scott Judd and Justin Wallace are both very handy players,” he said.
“They were both there from the start in 2010, Scotty has been there the whole time and Justin has only missed one season.”
“They’re great teammates to have by your side.”
When asked about his most memorable game, Payne said it came just three years ago.
“It was probably Dean’s (Brebner) first game for Terang in 2015,” he said.
“We had Justin (Wallace) pull out on the Sunday morning and only took seven or eight players down to Colac.
“Dean hadn’t picked up a basketball for six months and shot 31 points, I played all 40 minutes and we got the win against a Colac team that had a strong contingent of Geelong players.”
On court, Payne is well-known for his defensive ability and is always the first to put his hand up to play against the opposition’s main scoring utility.
He has remained active in the development of basketball in the town, coaching numerous junior representative sides, taking up positions on the committee and now leading the CBL team as head coach for the past two years.
However, it has not always been an easy journey for the 27 year-old, forced to battle constant health issues in order to reach this milestone.
“I had a cancerous tumour removed in 2011 but it fell in the off-season so didn’t miss any action,” he said.
“I also had two heart surgeries in 2015 and 2017 which took a bit to come back from but fortunately again I didn’t miss any games.
“You just obviously have to look after the body a bit better these days and are all good to go.”
Whilst ‘Payney’ may well be the very heart of the team this year, as coach, all he asks for to remember his 100th game by is a victory this Sunday.
“Obviously the preference is for a win for the team and move us towards a finals spot,” he said.
“We can reflect on the milestone on the trip home.
“But Bellarine are a tough side, they’ve been in really good form and only lost one game all season so it’ll take a good effort.”