#AusChamps – Semi-Final Review

FOUR teams. Four gold medal matches.


It’s exciting to see our sides charge into the last match of their respective tournaments following sensational victories, hard-fought thrillers and diligent, consistent performances.


It was the epic clash many thought would be the grand final. In the end though, Queensland and Victoria were left to lock horns for a ticket to the finale.

As far as battles go – the odds were stacked against our men.

Chris Anstey’s men were undersized and outmatched physically… but a bold game-plan and the diligence to stick with it paid off… big time. Grinding out their best win of the tournament, the Victorians build a slender lead and managed to hold on throughout the clash to take the 80-70 victory.

Matthew Johns glued himself to Kody Stattman to keep Queensland’s long-range bomber under control. The interior game and manning the massive bodies of Samson Froling and Tyrell Harrison was left to Keli Leaupepe (seven points), Josh Kunen (10 points, nine rebounds) and Oliver Hayes-Brown (11 points, five rebounds).

Hayes-Brown and Puoch Puoch (seven points) popped up for exceptional cameos throughout the clash as Queensland struggled to match the entirety of the Victorian offence. The slightest mismatch was exploited as Puoch ran riot through the second term and Hayes-Brown became a nuisance who was constantly earning a spot on the free throw line.

But the best was saved for the one-two punch of Sean Macdonald (21 points) and Tyler Robertson (17 points). The guards lit up Court 1 and robbed Queensland of any of its own hard-earned tempo. Macdonald slashed his way through the defence, proving too difficult  to halt.

Robertson’s three-point game – a four-on-five performance – was yet another headache Queensland couldn’t curtail. He saved his best for the end of the third, with a buzzer-beating three shot somewhere near the Victorian-NSW border to keep the Victorian lead alive. Queensland fought its way back into it through the second half, as Froling, Stattman and Harrison started to grind their way into the clash, but by then the Victorians had the game by the scruff of the neck.

It was the best result yet for the Victorians, who earned praise from their coach Chris Anstey for the determined performance.

“That was the best game we’ve played – we’ve improved throughout the tournament and we played probably a more complex game-plan based on the level of ability a couple of those Queensland boys had,” Anstey said. “I thought we did a really good job sticking to the plan and if they were going to beat it was going to be a particular way and they weren’t able to do that.

“I was proud of the way the boys stuck around defensively and stuck to the game-plan even when they were knocking down some shots and making a run at us.”

Our Victorian Under-20 Men will take on South Australia in the grand final from 2pm.

Kobe King

Kobe King on the move for Victoria in its win over South Australia


Needing to put away South Australia to shut the door on any external threats stealing its spot in the gold medal match, Victoria surged to claim the 87-56 win on Saturday morning and book its rightful place.

South Australia had front row tickets to a three-point masterclass from Jaz Shelley (29 points, six rebounds) as she threw down 7-on-11 from beyond the arc. There was nothing the South Australians could do but watch her barrage in bemusement.  In league with the inside threats of Kobe King (13 points), Rebecca Pizzey (eight points, nine rebounds) and Chelsea D’Angelo (seven points), the Victorian effort was far too much for the visitors to match up against. The triumph put the Victorians second in the pool to earn a rematch against Queensland from 12pm.

Jake De La Motte

Jake De La Motte soars over Niagara Park Stadium.


Knocking over South Australia did a world of confidence for the Victorian Ivor Burge Men yesterday. Their biggest and best competition yet… was brushed aside 110-78 at Niagra Park Stadium on Saturday morning.

The South Australians were the clear second-ranked team following the completion of the pool stage, but even then the likes of Jake De La Motte (30 points, eight rebounds), Daniel Bell (21 points, eight rebounds), Ryan Briggs (16 points) and Cameron Slacik (15 points, 12 rebounds). These Victorians, amongst a roster-wide exceptional performance, proved far too good for the next door neighbours to curb.

Following that up in the semi-final against ACT, the guys were able to make light work to advance to the gold medal match with a 137-55 triumph. Lachlan Brannerley’s side worked hard but at the end of the day were outmatched by the Victorian roster-wide performance. De La Motte (31 points) continued his rampage alongside Frazer Dawber (23 points), Slacik (19 points, 18 rebounds, seven assists), Bell (17 points) and James Myers (15 points).

Our IB Men head into the gold medal match buoyed by confidence, following an undefeated run to the finale, but will be ready to tick the boxes and complete the basic tasks that got them there in the first place. The Ivor Burge Men hit the court from 10am.

Jessica McCulloch

Jessica McCulloch was exceptional in Victoria IB Women’s win over ACT.


This was the match the IB Women wanted. It was a stellar contest as ACT stuck firm in the clash, but in the end Victoria prevailed in a 64-41 winning effort.

ACT took it right up to the Victorians early – as our IB Women nearly fell behind for the first time in ages in this tournament. With foul trouble keeping Kaitlin Zonneveld (10 points, 12 rebounds) off the court for a decent chunk of the game, it threw the reins over to Jessica McCulloch (15 points, 19 rebounds) and Dani Phillips (15 points, 13 rebounds). The Victorian talls ensured there was nothing to worry about as the scoreline pressure from early in the first term started to ease. Kate Leckenby (nine points, five assists) and Jasmine Dellas (six points) performed well in the back-court to keep Victoria’s unbeaten streak alive.

As far as tune ups go before a grand final, it was the competitive clash Victoria needed heading into the last clash of the tournament against Japan from 8am.

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