ANOTHER Australian Junior Championships has drawn to a close with the Victoria Metropolitan under-18 women and Kevin Coombs Cup teams picking up gold.
The Victoria Metropolitan under-18 men and Victoria Country under-18 women rounded out the successful campaign in Geelong with bronze medal triumphs over Tasmania and New South Wales Country respectively.
The Victoria Metropolitan under-18 women went undefeated throughout the tournament and managed to overcome a few challenging match-ups and managing injuries throughout the week. The grand final was seized emphatically after half-time as the girls racked up an 86-60 victory over South Australia Metropolitan. Bottom age rising stars Gemma Potter (19 points, four rebounds, four assists) and Erin Riley (14 points, four rebounds) led the Victoria Metropolitan scorers alongside Lara Edmanson (12 points, nine rebounds), Abbey Ellis (12 points, six rebounds, five assists) and Issy Anstey (eight points, four rebounds).
Victoria Metropolitan under-18 women’s coach Reece Potter was thrilled with the side’s efforts throughout the week and the reward for that performance will be one they’ll never forget.
“Obviously very comprehensive in the end and it was a real four quarter effort which was really good to see,” Potter said. “SA Metro tried some things early with the press and I thought we handled it pretty well.
“We legitimately go 10-deep and we showed that tonight (Saturday) – we were able to grind them down over four quarters and really, to get up 20 going into the last quarter was pretty comprehensive.
“I’m really proud of the group for the way they went about it – they’re very professional and I’m glad that they can now enjoy being national champions.”
Taking home Victoria’s first ever Kevin Coombs Cup – the national championship for wheelchair basketball in Australia – our Victorian side flourished in the final. The side came back against Western Australia to take out a 68-60 victory. Jontee Brown (18 points, 17 rebounds, seven assists) flourished in what will likely be his final Kevin Coombs Cup appearance alongside Brian Carminati (18 points, eight rebounds) and Jeremy Tyndall (14 points, four assists). Jaylen Brown (nine points, four assists) and James Weinert (seven points, five rebounds) also impressed in the side’s incredible triumph. To cap off the special occasion, the tournament’s namesake Basketball Victoria Wall of Fame member Kevin Coombs presented the team with the championship cup.
Victoria Kevin Coombs Cup head coach Matt Dunstan said it was a brilliant feeling to bring back the cup to Victoria for the first time and there’s plenty left in the tank for the wheelchair basketball side heading into future campaign.
“We did our homework and found some weaknesses and thought we’d exploit them and everything just came together on the day,” Dunstan said. “It’s a great sign – it was the first time Victoria has won the Kevin Coombs Cup and to do it in Victoria and have Kevin Coombs here to present us with the cup was just awesome.
“We have an age range of 13 to 23, with boys and girls within that squad and that’s a tough dynamic to have and to get it to all come together this week was special but the future is looking really, really bright.
“Eight of that 10 come back next year and we’ve got another great group coming through underneath that so everything is going fantastically for our wheelchair basketball team and Victoria’s wheelchair basketball program as a whole.”
Victoria Country under-18 women seized a bronze medal after a 72-51 triumph over NSW Country. Avenging the buzzer-beating loss to NSW Country earlier in the week, the Victoria Country women excelled to take home the bronze through the likes of Ella Ogier (19 points, nine rebounds, five assists), Olivia Pollerd (17 points, four points) and Georgia Amoore (16 points) led the scoring for the Country women to cap off an impressive finish to the tournament.
Victoria Country under-18 women’s head coach Gerard Hillier said it was good to finish a turbulent week on the best note.
“We had some really good wins early and had some very tough losses in the middle of the week, so emotionally for the team you do ride a bit of a rollercoaster,” Hillier said. “But as we kept saying all week, we wanted to finish the week on the best note possible playing our best game with today’s result.
“I think for the bottom agers this week was taking that step up from under-16s to under-18s and getting used to that physicality and the pace of the game.
“It’s a real learning experience and I think they’ve done a great job and good luck to them in the future.
“I’d just like to thank all our families and all the clubs for their support throughout the week, thanks a lot.
Victoria Metropolitan under-18 men took out the bronze medal after a 86-73 victory over Tasmania. Josh Bannan (16 points, six rebounds), Will Tattersall (14 points, nine rebounds), Paul Tsapatolis (10 points, eight rebounds) and Lucas Rocci (10 points) led the scorers for Victoria Metropolitan.
Victoria Metropolitan under-18 men’s head coach Darren Perry remained proud of the group in spite of the side’s disappointment in not making the gold medal clash.
“I’m still proud of the team – they had a great week of basketball,” Perry said. “Last night (Friday) all it came down to was about who made shots and who didn’t and Western Australia Metro made a lot of tough shots, long shots, and we couldn’t keep that pace up.
“We missed some down the stretch and it hurt us, but we always have to come back and play the next day.
“It’s a tough day to play for the bronze, as we were hoping for a shot at the gold, but the boys played hard and got the bronze so it’s always good to come home with something.
“Tasmania was really organised today and that’s why they’re doing well in the tournament – they’re playing well and they’re very disciplined in what they’re doing, so if you make any mistakes and let up on defence they make you pay.
“I thought it was a good fight in the end today knocking over Tasmania and I’m really happy with the boys.”
The Victoria Country under-18 men finished the tournament on a high note, defeating the Australian Capital Territory 71-59 to take out seventh place. Liam Herbert (21 points), Connor Graham (10 points, five rebounds) and Kai Daniels (10 points, seven rebounds) led the Victoria Country scoring charge.
Victoria Country under-18 men’s head coach Lucas Allen said it was a tough week but the boys toiled to make the most of a tricky pool and a consistently difficult schedule.
“We always want our last game of the week to be our best game and I don’t know if that game was our best game but I know that finishing on a win is more positive than finishing on a loss so we’ll take that, as it’s the last memory these boys will have of this nationals campaign,” Allen said. “It was a challenge – speaking to other coaches from our pool, the beauty of it was that we had a tough game every game we played so the kids didn’t get a day off in terms of playing against competition that wasn’t up to it.
“There was a good game every game and at the end of the day it’s about getting these kids better for future teams and tournaments.
“So it would’ve been nice to finish a bit higher in our pool rounds to have a different crossover to start off with but that’s what it is.
“We tried to make the best of it from what we were given.”
Combined with our success at the Australian Under-20 and Ivor Burge Championships in Gosford this year, Victoria and Victorian-based teams have won six out of the seven national championships run by Basketball Australia this year.
Basketball Victoria will send under-16 female and male teams from Victoria Country and Victoria Metropolitan to the Australian Under-16 Junior National Championships held on the Sunshine Coast this July.