OUR fantastic four remain alive in the race for Australian Junior Championships following a clean-sweep of quarter final victories.
VICTORIA COUNTRY GIRLS
Starting the day strongly at USC Stadium, the Victoria Country girls secured an emphatic 71-37 victory over WA Metro to advance to the final four. WA Metro had its shots and reeled in a staggering 24 O-boards, but in the end they could not match pace with our shooting or our relentless tempo.
The keys to the castle were thrown to rising star Dallas Loughridge (17 points, four rebounds), who put in her best performance of the championships. As an inside-outside threat and elite distributor, Loughridge made some monumental headaches for the WA Metro side, which already had to deal with our other powerhouses to boot. Piper Dunlop (14 points, 15 rebounds, 5 blocks) continued her sensational tournament with another opponent overwhelming performance. It was a shocking idea to let her near the ball as WA Metro found out the hard way as she swatted plenty of shots aside and ensured we took position from the defensive glass.
Her efforts in league with Emirson Devenie (14 points), Charli Dobson (10 points) and a near double-double for Paige Price (nine points, nine rebounds) set the tempo and left our opponents chasing from the get-go.
WA Metro to its credit battled it out to the final siren, making inroads with some fantastic steals and second-chance points, but Country showed it was mightiest on the day.
Victoria Country head coach Joe Turner said the improvement throughout the group across the championships has ensured the results would follow.
“It’s been a great week so far,” Turner said. “The girls have done a great job in improving each game and getting better each game.
“They’re focused on taking care of what we need to take care of and executing our game plan.
“And the results are showing with those efforts and we’re looking forward to the semi-finals.”
Victoria Country faces Queensland North from 1pm at USC Stadium.
VICTORIA METROPOLITAN GIRLS
Remaining undefeated when it matters most, Victoria Metropolitan girls zoomed past NSW Country 76-42 to remain in the hunt for a three-peat. We didn’t let NSW Country have an inch of space as the Metro girls stole it 26 times and forced the error time and time again. It was a relentless pressure that few could fight, especially when coupled with some extraordinary shooting.
Luisa Fakalata (27 points, nine rebounds) sublimely struck 5-from-7 outside the arc and Charlise Dunn (17 points, 13 rebounds, 10 steals) notched an incredible triple-double with a pair of treys to continue the scoring frenzy.
Throw in the elite two-way effort of Tess Heal (13 points, seven rebounds, seven assists) and it’s clear to see just how damaging this team can be.
Our Metro girls will face NSW Metro from 5pm at USC Stadium.
VICTORIA COUNTRY BOYS
Running away with a 78-56 win over Queensland South, the Vic Country boys had to toil through the first half to find breathing space. QLD South us work for our looks and opportunities, but couldn’t keep up with our tempo for long enough. The outside work of Charlie Molan (17 points, seven rebounds), Dylan Mccauley (11 points) and Jordan Michel (eight points, eight rebounds), kept the home-state side on its toes. That added outside pressure allowed Hamish Carey (14 points), Patrick Burgoyne (seven points) and Tonga Matapule Otutaha (six points) to take great advantage inside.
It was a game of two halves as Queensland South couldn’t keep the lead under wraps following an impressive first half. Too many holes were left for the Vic Country boys to squeeze through, as the scoreboard pressure kept mounting. It was a roster-wide performance as Joel Anderson continued to rotate his side to great effect, even now as the intensity starts to build in finals. Whoever stepped in also stepped up. There were no weak links across the roster which remains Country’s biggest asset heading into the semi finals today.
Vic Country boys will face SA Country in the semi-final from 7pm at USC Stadium.
VICTORIA METROPOLITAN BOYS
Tasmania gave everything it had to stick with us. Their sharpshooters caught fire and knocked in some audacious shots, their defenders made the most of every opportunity and overall they pushed us through the opening half. But the difference between pushing us for two terms and pushing us all the way to the finish line became very apparent in Victoria Metropolitan’s 79-52 win over Tasmania.
The first half was a back-and-forth affair – highlighted by the in-the-paint work from Jyelin Moli (22 points, eight rebounds), Jeffrey Ofoedu (12 points, eight rebounds) and Jerome Pierre (nine points, nine rebounds). Under either basket also we dominated the play – as the Metro boys reeled in 58 rebounds to 36, including 22 under our own ring. Across the board we started generating too much advantage, attack and honed our defence to levels Tasmania couldn’t muster. It was a second half rampage as we began to showcase our true might when it mattered most.
The Vic Metro boys face NSW Metro from 3pm at USC 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.