AND so there were three.
AUSCHAMPS – QUARTER FINAL REVIEW
Our Victorian under-18 squads still in the hunt for a national title were whittled down to our two Victoria Metropolitan sides and the Victoria Country women following another intense day on court.
Our Kevin Coombs Cup team split their results on Thursday, but remain at the right end of the ladder approaching their own finals series ramping up tonight.
VICTORIA COUNTRY WOMEN
It wasn’t a great 24 hours for NSW Metropolitan squaring off against Victorians. Following on from the outstanding comeback of Wednesday evening by the Metro women, our Country women dished up its best effort of the championships to roll one of the title contenders 81-65 and take the spot in the final four.
It was a simple strategy set out by the coaching group – run hard, break the defence and push the NSW shooters out of their comfort zone. Vic Country gave scarce space to Shyla Heal and Catriona Henderson amongst all of NSW Metro’s powerhouse long-range shooters as the game-plan clamped them down.
On the other side of the equation, Vic Country ran all day and physically burst through the defence to keep fatigue in the NSW Metro legs following the loss to Vic Metro the prior night. Georgia Amoore (10 points, six assists) and Ally Knights (eight points) made sure the ball zipped up court and fell into the waiting hands of Agnes Emma-Nnopu (21 points, 14 rebounds, six assists) and Olivia Pollerd (18 points). Agnes has well and truly imposed herself on her second under-18 championships as the BA COE scholar dished out some lessons of her opponents. Playing the perfect 40, Emma-Nnopu cracked the Metro defence and drew the attention of the second defender way too often for NSW comfort. Olivia Pollerd’s inside-outside game gave headaches to the defence as well as she dialled in for four maximums as well as a moving inside to add another tall body in the key.
In spite it all though the NSW Metro resolve didn’t crack. They kept the tempo up and forced Vic Country to seize the win in the fourth term.
From all parts of the roster, the fourth quarter belonged to Vic Country as the initiative drove the reigning champions back to the semi-finals.
Head coach Gerard Hillier was thrilled to see his charges execute a match-winning strategy and clamp down on some of the better players in the tournament.
“It was fantastic – we had our ups and downs in the pool games but for the girls to come to the quarter finals and play against a quality team and bring a defensive scout like that together was really pleasing.
“Our scout was just to take them out of as much of their stuff as we could and they’ve got some quality players to contend with, so to try and limit them as much as we could was our goal.
“They still got their points but we were able to settle into the game earlier than they could in both halves and take control.”
The Country women battle SA Metro from 1pm on the show-court to keep their title defence alive.
VICTORIA METROPOLITAN WOMEN
It wasn’t a start to remember for the Metro women, but the finish showed the calibre of Reece Potter’s squad heading into the final four. Trailing 0-11 through the first term is not ideal, especially when it put a fair bit of wind into the sails of Queensland South, but in the end the cooler heads prevailed to post the 81-59 victory.
It was a tale of two halves for the Victorians as they struggle to wake up and get into the action early. Gemma Potter (21 points, eight steals) was one to break the shackles and ignite the Metro women. Guarding up on the Queenslanders, Potter’s wingspan and sharp defence forced the error time and time again as the sight of her pressing up, taking possession and finishing yet another end-to-end layup was far too often for Queensland’s comfort.
Lily Scanlon (22 points, seven assists) and Abbey Ellis (12 points) continued their strong showings in Geelong, especially Ellis’ three-spree late in the clash to seal the deal.
With Sophia Locandro (eight points, nine rebounds), Eliza Hollingsworth (eight points, 1 rebounds) and Lara Edmanson (four points, six rebounds) grinding out the hard yards under the ring, the second half showed the true capabilities of this side as they shook off the fatigue of Wednesday’s incredible buzzer-beating win in emphatic style.
The Metro women will square off against NSW Country from 5pm on the show court.
KEVIN COOMBS CUP
Victoria split the results of their double-header on Thursday with an emphatic win over New South Wales tempered by the loss to Western Australia later in the day.
It was an 88-38 win over NSW that started the ball rolling on Thursday as Jontee Brown (18 points, eight rebounds, eight assists, six steals) flirted with a quadruple-double in league with Brian Carminati (27 points, seven steals) and James Weinert (24 points, eight rebounds) who terrified the NSW legion under the basket. The off-the-ball work of Victoria’s defenders also stood out, especially some of the wheel-to-wheel work of Campbell Fraser to keep the NSW captain Georgia Munro-Cook out of the action and stranded in the back court.
The second session didn’t prove as fruitful for our wheelchair team as the Western Australians gave us a 74-60 defeat to ponder heading into the finals. A poor first term had the Victorians chasing wheels from there on and despite a stronger finish, the side couldn’t reel in the likes of Andrew Dewberry – who notched a triple-double – and Thomas McHugh.
For the Victorians, we were exceptionally served by Jontee Brown (25 points, 16 rebounds, nine assists, five steals) as well as Brian Carminati (15 points, six rebounds, five assists) with a nice cameo from Jaylen Brown (seven points) off the bench generating a point of difference late in the clash.
The KCC team battles Queensland this morning from 9am but will need to wait for completed results from the final round before knowing their path through the finals.
VICTORIA METROPOLITAN vs VICTORIA COUNTRY MEN
It’s a game that always forms a nice rivalry no matter the circumstance. It’s starting to become a bit commonplace at under-18 nationals to see the Country men and Metro men lock horns in the quarter finals as the sides continue to duke it out in style.
It wasn’t the outing Victoria Country would’ve hoped for however as Victoria Metropolitan asserted itself thoroughly and did so quickly within the 103-50 clash. Metro was just too potent for Country to contain the likes of Kobe Williamson (20 points, nine rebounds), Josh Bannan (20 points) and Will Tattersall (eight points, 12 rebounds).
A 51-24 rebound discrepancy says a lot about Metro’s dominance at the coalface and it didn’t get much better for country across the floor. The sheer presence of Vic Metro’s crew of talls is enough to make life difficult, but to their credit the Country men never wavered and continued to grind it out even as the scoreboard started to grow more and more lopsided.
Jay Rantall (eight points), Jeremiah McKenzie (eight points) and Broden Collins (eight points, five rebounds) led the Country scorers in the midst of the defeat.
The Country men will face NSW Metro on court 3 from 3.30pm today while the Metropolitan men lock horns with WA Metro in the final four from 7pm on the show court.