THE FINAL Four awaits our Vic Metro and Vic Country charges following their extraordinary quarter finals yesterday.
VICTORIA COUNTRY MEN
Digging deep and finding that extra gear… that’s the Victorian way. It would’ve been pretty easy to pack up shop against Queensland South. They had size, they came in as favourites. But our Country Men endured the early going.
Their 76-71 overtime bonanza was hectic… in the best way possible.
A potent start saw our boys match QLD South blow for blow.
Coby Burgiel (22 points, six rebounds) had a day. It wasn’t so much Thursday but Coby’s day. Slash and attack? Check. Outside three-ball? Check? Defensive pressure? Check. It was a red letter day for the Maffra megastar and one that helped define the Country triumph.
The crash and bash brigade Jack Hrehoresen (19 points, 10 rebounds) and Jamie Bottrell (six points) impacted the key and sent bodies flying. Harry Stones (10 points, nine rebounds) and Macey Eaton (seven points, six assists) marshalled the floor and kept the tempo up. The bench launched into their roles when called up.
Their energy at the coalface was to be admired as they scrounged second chance points and made going difficult for the Queenslanders.
The action was so tense and nail-biting that even our Country parents were getting into it. Unable to sit with nervous energy, many Country Mums left their chairs and stood courtside and cheer on the action.
Overtime was Country time as the lads began to seize control of the final five minutes.
Hrehoresen matched his inside game with some superb perimeter shooting to boot – launching a trio of treys that brought the crowd to their feet. His two threes overtime caught QLD South completely off-guard and in league with Stones and Burgiel started to wrest advantage our way permanently.
Inch by inch it started to come together. Despite QLD South rallying to force it to overtime, our Country Men had the cool heads necessary to target the win and take it. Burgiel’s final lay-up sealed the deal and booked our place in the final four.
The Victoria Country Men now face ACT Men in the semi-final from 3.30pm for a chance at the title.
VICTORIA COUNTRY WOMEN
Surging past Queensland South in an extraordinary 80-68 victory, Victoria Country Women showcased the same never-give-in attitude.
Queensland South had come in with the better record and had turned many heads this week with their energy and play-style. But it’s never a great idea to write off a Victorian side.
Leading from the front, Dallas Loughridge (19 points, five rebounds, four assists) and Georgia Koopmans (16 points, five assists) started launching heavy artillery from the get-go – knocking down seven treys between them. The interior presence of Dyani Ananiev (10 points, seven rebounds, six steals) was just as impressive as the side found multiple avenues to the basket.
Speaking of… our bench provided a huge spark. Sienna Privitera (12 points), who knocked in three treys of her own, Rosie Todd (eight points) and Milie Sharp (six points) all savoured their minutes and had the scoreboard ticking from the moment they stepped on court.
The rotations continued to wear down the QLD South resolve and eventually the Victorians had too much momentum to be slowed down. It was an emphatic win against an outstanding team – and if that’s not Victorian basketball then I don’t know what is.
The Victoria Country Women will square off against South Australia Metro from 1.30pm today with a chance to return to the big dance on the line.
VICTORIA METROPOLITAN MEN
It was a slog, but in the end Vic Metro emerged with the W, taking a 75-55 win over South Australia Country in the quarter final.
The early going didn’t favour Vic Metro, as the shots didn’t drop and SA Country seized their chances. We trailed at the first break but that would only be a temporary setback.
The Metro Men continued their high-rotation strategy and kept all 10 active through the clash. Everyone relished the opportunity as all Vic Metro players hit the scoreboard, worked through their defensive tasks and greatly affected the course of the clash. You can’t really ask for more than that.
With fresh legs and keen motivation to advance, the Vic Metro effort corrected course through the second half as the likes of Jerome Pierre (16 points, 10 rebounds, five steals), Cooper Ferdinando (nine points) and Jarryd Remy (eight points) started to drain the defining shots. With David Amum (six points, 11 rebounds) and AJ Magbegor (10 points) defending ably as well, it ensured Vic Metro would go on to take the victory.
The Victoria Metropolitan Men will battle it out against South Australia Metro to try and punch their ticket into the grand final.
VICTORIA METROPOLITAN WOMEN
Surging past Tasmania, the Victoria Metropolitan Women emphatically claimed one of the semi-final spots with a 55-39 victory. It was an all-round performance from our superstar Metro Women, with everyone impacting the clash when it mattered most.
The likes of Nyadiew Puoch (12 points), Amy O’Hara (12 points, four rebounds) and Tess Heal (11 points, 10 rebounds) continued to relish the opportunities that only a National Junior Championships can provide. It was a textbook performance from an almighty team… and there’s plenty left in the trick bag that’s for sure.
It’ll be time to unveil a few more of those today as the Victoria Metropolitan Women will battle NSW Metro from 5.30pm today for a shot at a four-peat.
AUSCHAMPS SEMI-FINAL SCHEDULE
Vic Country Women v SA Metro – 1.30pm
Vic Country Men v ACT – 3.30pm
Vic Metro Women v NSW Metro – 5.30pm
Vic Metro Men v SA Metro – 7.30pm