VICTORIA’S Under-20 Men and Under-20 Women have capped off their exceptional week in Canberra after being crowned national champions.
Victoria’s Ivor Burge Men and Ivor Burge Women also medalled at the tournament, picking up silver in their competitions to bring home plenty of success from the Australian Under-20 and Ivor Burge Championships, held in Canberra.
Reclaiming the Jack Terrill Trophy and Arthur McRobbie Trophy, our senior-most male and female junior teams shone throughout the competition, with both sides going undefeated throughout the week.
Our Under-20 Women have won this event since 2011 while the Under-20 Men have now won back-to-back titles, following on their impressive victory in Gosford last year.
VICTORIA UNDER-20 MEN
An elite defensive effort set up Victoria’s 76-69 triumph over Western Australia in the gold medal clash on Sunday afternoon.
Needing to shut down Western Australia’s impressive roster, including national junior team members Swaka Lo Buluk and Luke Travers, Victoria had to toil to get the job done. Standing up in the crunch moments, Tyler Robertson (14 points) and Keli Leaupepe (15 points, nine rebounds) took those difficult defensive tasks head on. Negating talent takes talent and our roster’s blanket-defensive effort ensured the Western Australians would not control the tempo of the game.
With 26 points off the bench, including an impressive second-term spree from Kobe Williamson (10 points), Victoria turned the tide and started building a handy lead heading into the half. Piece-by-piece the Victorian path to victory began to slot together as the defence’s strength gave plenty of opportunity for our shooters to get the job done. Robertson’s four treys set the tone early while the inside-outside games of Leaupepe and Josh Bannan (12 points, 11 rebounds) made defending the Victorians just as difficult.
Western Australia threatened at stages, but all told it was an emphatic effort across the board from the Victoria Under-20 Men to bring home the Jack Terrill Trophy.
“It was nice to continually get better over the course of the week,” Victoria U20 Men’s head coach Chris Anstey said. “There were a few flaws in what we were doing early and I thought that was our best game defensively and we were really sound.
“I think Western Australia had an incredible tournament and certainly knew how tough they were going to be.
“But when it came down to it, our boys were used to playing on the bigger stage and we executed well, got over a few nerves early and the best game for the tournament was the one that mattered.
Graduating from our junior pathways are Leaupepe, Robertson, Sean Macdonald, Deng Dut, Josh Kunen, Oliver Hayes-Brown and Sam Taulapiu, who are all multiple national championship winning players following their time as elite Victorian juniors.
VICTORIA UNDER-20 WOMEN
Taking home the title, the Victoria Under-20 Women were exceptional in their 77-64 triumph over New South Wales.
From the get-go the Victorians took the advantage. Victoria’s country quartet flourished on the big stage with Chelsea D’Angelo (17 points, nine rebounds, five assists), Agnes Emma-Nnopu (14 points), Georgia Amoore (12 points) and Jaz Shelley (10 points, seven assists) leading from the front.
They started hammering away at the New South Wales defence from the perimeter, with these four women nailing 10 three-pointers between them.
New South Wales kept its pressure up as it tried to get back into the clash, but a Victorian-sized roadblock stood in the way. Our defensive efforts were led by our front-court as Eliza Hollingsworth (10 points, five rebounds), Madi Puli (six points, four rebounds) and Isobel Anstey (six points, six rebounds) wouldn’t budge.
It was a strong finish for Shelley, D’Angelo, Puli and NBA Global Academy member Kobe King-Hawea, having graduated from our junior pathways with one last national championship. For Shelley and D’Angelo, they were part of Victoria Country’s drought breaking 2017 under-18 championships triumph and are now members of the Melbourne Boomers WNBL team.
“Certainly with the players we had on our roster, the biggest challenge we had was for everyone to play well together,” Victorian U20 Women head coach Dee Butler said. “Having a limited preparation was always going to be difficult too, but I’m sure all the other teams were in the same boat.
“We had a great week, we certainly knew New South Wales were going to be a lot tougher – they progressed and improved a lot and I think they were the most improved team at the tournament and it was a good challenge for us.
“I don’t know if they understand just how special this is cause they’ll never play together ever again with the same personnel – they were great off the court, they got along really well and were very professional and worked together so it was a breeze for us coaching staff.”
VICTORIA IVOR BURGE MEN
It wasn’t meant to be for our Ivor Burge Men, who claimed silver against an impressive South Australia following a 76-85 defeat. A slow start put the Victorians down 9-22 at the first change, but the side roared into life in the second. Jake De La Motte (30 points) and Daniel Bell (16 points) started to wrestle advantage back our way and in league with defensive powerhouses James Debetta (eight points, 18 rebounds) and Cameron Slacik (three points, nine rebounds), the gap was whittled down to a handful by the major break. But despite our best efforts, Victoria could not completely erase the margin as South Australia proved too mighty on the day.
“It’s been a big week, from the start right through to the end,” Victoria Ivor Burge head coach Ryan Holloway said. “We’ve had our ups and our downs but throughout it all the boys have pushed together and even though we didn’t make it today I’m proud of them as a group.
“They showed class throughout the tournament – they won with respect and lost with dignity and I can’t ask for any more from the team.”
Jake De La Motte was named tournament MVP for his outstanding week at the national championships.
VICTORIA IVOR BURGE WOMEN
Gallantly battling their way back into the clash time-and-time again, the Ivor Burge Women couldn’t overcome New South Wales Country, as they took a 55-65 defeat in the gold medal clash.
Victoria was brave throughout the game, but an early New South Wales margin proved the difference in the end. Kaitlin Zonneveld (17 points, 12 rebounds, five blocks) and Jess McCulloch (nine points, nine rebounds, four assists, five steals) led the charge for the Victorians to continue their exceptional tournaments through to the finale.
“We were very strong most of the week,” Victoria Ivor Burge Women head coach Simon Robinson said. “They played a heck of a game – New South Wales Country have some amazing players – they’ve got a bunch of players who are on the national program or were on the national program.
“That’s what happens – they played great, put the pressure on us and we couldn’t solve the problems in time.”
VICTORIA IVOR BURGE A MEN
Battling bravely, our Victoria A Ivor Burge Men took a different course of action in our 64-85 loss to ACT.
Coming back from an injury sustained at the start of the week, Oscar Savige – who could only stand in the key and not get up the court – made the most of his opportunity to represent the state. Without much mobility, he took to the court and attacked the ring with great intensity and made a few clutch shots. It left our side undermanned on defence though, with only four players able to get back. But despite our disadvantage, giving Savige a chance to hit some shots and be part of the tournament was more important than the final outcome for the team and head coach Glen Jordan. The powerful trio of Adam Horne (24 points, eight rebounds), Jordan Castel (19 points, five rebounds, five assists, five steals) and Jack Lew-Kee (10 points, 12 rebounds) continued their impressive tournaments.
VICTORIA UNDER-20 A MEN
Finishing on a high-note, the Under-20 A Men finished seventh after defeating the NBA Global Academy 82-75. Leading from the front like they have all tournament, Ryan Rapp (23 points, nine rebounds, five assists), Athiaan Manyiel (19 points, 10 rebounds, five assists, four steals) and Daniel Foster (19 points, seven rebounds, four assists, four steals) stuffed the stat-sheet in their final match of the Under-20 Championships.
VICTORIA UNDER-20 A WOMEN
Finishing fifth, the Under-20 A Women claimed one last victory with an 87-45 win over ACT. LT Poa (19 points), Lara Edmanson (18 points, seven rebounds, four steals) and Ivana Vasiljevic (14 points, seven rebounds) were the best performers from the roster.