Penny Taylor (AUS)
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Opals dominate end of season WNBL awards

SYDNEY (FIBA World Championship for Women/WNBL) - There was never any doubt that Penny Taylor was going to have a big season in the 2014-15 WNBL following her return to the league.

Taylor exudes class.

The Most Valuable Player of the 2006 FIBA World Championship for Women, the 33-year-old remains one of the top players in the sport, something she demonstrated last summer when the Opals finished third at Turkey 2014.

Taylor was named to the All-Star Five.

She then returned to Australia and had a big year with the Dandenong Rangers.

Taylor was among the leaders in several statistical categories, including scoring (2nd, 19.3ppg) and steals (2nd, 1.6spg)

What was perhaps more of an unknown was how some of the other Opals would perform back on home soil once the World Championship was over.

Cayla Francis provided the answer on a weekly basis with outstanding performances.

She was named, along with Taylor and players with Opals experience, Abby Bishop and Tess Madgen, to the WNBL All-Star 5.

Rounding out the team was Kelsey Griffin.

Francis had such a good year in the WNBL, which included leading the Townsville Fire to the title, that she finished second in the MVP voting behind Bishop, a player who didn't feature in Turkey but has a good chance of making it back to the national squad for this year's FIBA Oceania Championship for Women.

Canberra Capitals captain Bishop had a wonderful year, one in which she led the WNBL in scoring at 23ppg.

"I thought she was outstanding in every aspect and really asserted herself as a captain," Canberra coach Carrie Graf said.

It was definitely the best (season) of her career - Graf

A member of the bronze-medal winning Opals of the London Olympics, Bishop earned four Player of the Week Awards over the course of the WNBL season.

She had 13 double-doubles.

Francis and Suzy Batkovic formed an unrivaled one-two punch for the Fire as they clinched the title.

The 24-year-old Francis was fourth in the league in scoring (17.4ppg), third in rebounding (10.4rpg), first in offensive rebounds (86), second in blocks (1.6bpg) and third in three-point shooting percentage (42.1 percent).

Madgen, who played at the 2011 and 2013 FIBA Oceania Championships for Women but was not at Turkey 2014, impressed this season.

The Melbourne guard was fourth in assists (4.7apg), fifth in three-point shooting (39.1 percent) and fifth in three-pointers made (36). 

The Oceania series against the New Zealand Tall Ferns will determine which team qualifies for the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics, and which team goes to the 2016 FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament for Women.

Lauren Scherf of Dandenong, who has played for Australia's youth teams, was named WNBL Rookie of the Year.

Bendigo star Griffin was the Defensive Player of the Year while the Coach of the Year was Shannon Seebohm of Sydney Uni Flames.