ONWARDS and upwards… our four sides continue to set the pace throughout the Australian Junior Championships.
With the final day of the pool stage to come, the Victorian teams are on the verge of the finals and are ready for whatever will come their way.
VICTORIA METROPOLITAN BOYS
New South Wales Country gave it a red hot crack but in the end couldn’t stop the rampaging Vic Metro boys who claimed a 75-65 win. It was a back-and-forth first term and neither side could really steal advantage away. Braden Andrews (nine points) and Harry Johnson (18 points) knocked in some early baskets to ramp up the tempo but NSW Country had its counters and was able to mount an effective fight back to keep the margin in check.
In the blink of an eye that changed as Jerome Pierre (seven points, seven rebounds), Braden Andrews and Jeffrey Ofoedu (five points, seven rebounds) started racking up their tallies and giving NSW Country something serious to worry about. The superb work up-close by Josh Duach (six points) and Harry Johnson helped widen the gap and give Metro a bit of space to work with.
Then you throw in Jyelin Moli (nine points) forcing some exceptional “and-one” situations. Then you add the cool, calm leadership of Marcus Windhager (nine points, four rebounds) who excelled at the point. Then you have Jack Dammers (seven points) and the off-the-bench efforts of Ben Fischer (four points) and James Roche (two points, three assists, two steals) to highlight the overall strength of this roster.
There wasn’t one we needed to lean on, nor did Metro have to guts it out with its starting line-up as the only trusted lieutenants. This was 10-strong and to see a side knit like this through the opening phase of a major tournament is one of the most important checkmarks you need heading into the finals.
For head coach Dom Linossier it was a pleasing result highlighted by each individual’s ability to stick to the game plan and properly execute team goals.
“They’re tracking really well, making sure they stick to the structures and play their skillset,” Linossier said. “We said all along we were going to back them to make decisions and tonight’s game is a great example of that.
“They’re fantastic together as a group – we’ve got seven MUVJBL teams represented here which is awesome.
“They’re doing a great job and really bonding together… I haven’t seen any pockets as they’re always a group of 10 which is really pleasing to see.”
VICTORIA COUNTRY GIRLS
Victoria vs New South Wales. Old blood. Fabled rivalry. But there wasn’t much to sing home about for the NSW Country brigade as our girls dominated the contest 82-43.
Aerially dominant, disciplined and consistent across the board- there’s not much more you could ask for from their resounding triumph.
Coach Joe Turner gave the reins to all and sundry in the line-up as the Country girls flexed their might from 1 to 10. Georgia Koopmans (11 points) dialled in with a trio of sublime treys to light up the University of the Sunshine Coast Stadium while Piper Dunlop (11 points, 13 rebounds, five assists) maintained her dominant start to the #AusChamps. Paige Price (14 points, 10 rebounds) made the most of her time on the court to make it an emphatic result for the Country girls heading into the final day of the pool stage. Country girls will face their toughest opponent yet when they battle the top of the pool SA Metro girls from 3pm at Caloundra.
VICTORIA COUNTRY BOYS
Taking it to the Country boys through the first half, Northern Territory showed it will not be pushed over easily. Despite the final margin – an 83-44 victory to Country – it was a sign of things to come from the NT charges as they went toe-to-toe with Country boys through the early stages of the clash.
It took some high-flying efforts from Christian D’Angelo (12 points), Dylan McCauley (seven points, six steals) and Tonga Matapule Otutaha (four points, eight rebounds) to close the door on the clash in the third term. Jordan Michael (14 points, 14 rebounds) had a field day to wind up the game with a pair of treys giving the crowd plenty to cheer about while Declan Coles (11 points, nine rebounds) also impressed in the massive victory.
Racing away with a 5-0 record, the Country boys lead Pool A but has one last skirmish to deal with before finals. In a lot of ways it could be a finals preview with Vic Country set will battle SA Metro in a 1v2 clash from 5.30pm at Caloundra.
VICTORIA METROPOLITAN GIRLS
Vic Metro might have started slowly against the Northern Territory, but the girls piled on the pressure down the stretch to take out a 75-35 victory. Once they dialled in through the late stages of the first term, it was all one-way traffic for the Metro girls as Charlise Dunn (16 points, 16 rebounds) and Jade Dunne (16 points, six steals) ran riot across the court. Well led also by Eleanor Bollands (11 points, 12 rebounds), Tess Heal (11 points, nine rebounds) and Luisa Fakalata (11 points, seven steals), the Metro might was well on display as the side retained top billing in Pool A. They’ll face fifth seed SA Country in the final round of the pool stage today from 1.30pm at Caloundra Indoor Stadium.
Basketball Victoria will be at the championships from Sunday afternoon, bringing you all the pictures, videos, interviews and match reports from the final Australian Junior Championships event of the year. Head to our Facebook page – www.facebook.com/BasketballVictoria – and our Twitter – www.twitter.com/Basketball_Vic to find all of our content throughout the week.