Dandenong entered the Women’s National Basketball League (WNBL) at the beginning of the 1992 season following the tireless work David Kelly and Alex Palazzolo. At the time, Kelly was President of the Dandenong Basketball Association and was instrumental in obtaining a WNBL license from the Nunawading Spectres while Palazzolo was a successful coach at the Australian Basketball Association (ABA) level and became the Rangers inaugural head coach.
Amazingly in their first year the Rangers finished third at the end of the regular season with a 14-and-6 win/loss record before eventually finishing runners-up to Perth. Between 1994 and 2002 the Rangers progressed to a qualifying final (1997), a preliminary final (2000/01) and a semi-final (2001/02) under coaches Steve Barr and Mark Wright before Gary Fox took over at the beginning of the 2002/03 season.
The youthful Rangers missed the playoffs that year while Fox was named Coach of the Year in his rookie year but the following season saw the beginning of an historic run for the WNBL club. Fox led the Rangers to their first even WNBL championship, defeating Sydney Uni 63-53 in the Grand Final after the team finished the season on top of league ladder. The Rangers became back-to-back league champions the following season, again defeating Sydney Uni after posting an amazing 19-and-2 win/loss regular season record.
The club’s brilliant run of form continued into the 2005/06 season. The Rangers claimed the minor premiership for the third consecutive season before falling just short in the Grand Final, going down to Canberra. Fox was again named Coach of the Year.
In season 2010/11, Mark Wright returned to coach the Jayco Rangers following a seven year basketball hiatus. Wright’s no nonsense attitude immediately impacted the playing group as the team built a blue collar culture, returning to the WNBL playoffs in his first season back on the sidelines.
2011/12 was Wright’s most successful season at the helm of the Jayco Rangers program, guiding his team to the WNBL Championship, defeating cross town rival the Bulleen Boomers 94-70 in front of a sold out crowd at The Cage in Melbourne.
Playing out of Dandenong Stadium since 1992, the club celebrated their first two championships by winning them on their home court - which they, with the help of wonderful crowd support, have turned into a fortress for visiting teams.
The club underwent an extensive change in 1997, launching a highly successful corporate sponsorship campaign which secured them a naming rights sponsor in Jayco Caravans, which is still the clubs leading sponsor today.
A uniqueness of the Dandenong WNBL club and a strength that underpins it is allows the wealth of Victorian junior basketball talent the opportunity to enter the Dandenong Basketball Association at a young age and progress through the ranks to the WNBL.
The Rangers have had many Australian basketball greats wear their colours, such as Lucille Bailie, Allie Douglas, Natalie Porter, Tracey Browning, Sam Thornton, Jessica Bibby, Carly Wilson, Sam Richards, Sally Phillips, Larissa Anderson and Narelle Fletcher and more recently Emily McInerny, an 8-time WNBL Defensive Player of the Year and World Champion Opal. On top of that, the club was called home by one of Australia’s and the world’s best ever players Penny Taylor. After graduating from the AIS in 1999, Taylor joined the Rangers and took the league by storm. In her two seasons at the club, Taylor was named league MVP on both occasions (2000/01, 2001/02), was a two-time All-Star and scored an amazing 1458 points in just 65 games.
Today, the Jayco Rangers are led by Olympians Jenna O’Hea & Kathleen MacLeod. O’Hea & MacLeod, childhood best friends returned from the 2012 London Olympics after helping the Opals to a Bronze Medal. Both players were instrumental in Dandenong’s 2011/2012 Championship with MacLeod being awarded WNBL Finals MVP.
In the 2012/13 WNBL season, the Jayco Rangers have successfully retained the core of the championship side, whilst welcoming back Dandenong Junior Rangers Carley Mijovic, Rosie Fadljevic & Tenaya Phillips who return to their Junior Program following time spent at the Australian Institute of Sport. The Jayco Rangers also pulling off one of the biggest recruiting coups by signing young star Sara Blicavs, also from the Australian Institute of Sport.
This season promises to be full of fun and excitement, with everyone here at the Dandenong Jayco Rangers looking forward to you coming on the journey with us.