As the 2017 Australian School Championships approaches, last year’s Victorian champions reflect on their historic wins.
The 2016 tournament saw two Victorian teams take out the men’s and women’s Championship Division titles, showcasing the strength of Victorian basketball. Marcellin College and Box Hill Senior Secondary College emerged as national champions after hard a fought tournament, emphasising the strength of Victorian school basketball.
A young, but resilient Box Hill Senior Secondary College took out the women’s division title with a commanding 75-40 victory over Rowville Secondary College to cap off their clean sweep of the tournament.
In the men’s division Marcellin College clinched a 73-65 victory in a heart-stopping final against a strong Trinity College outfit to claim their first national title in 29 years.
Box Hill girls’ basketball coach Trevor Burnette said the win was massive for the school and gave players the opportunity to compete amongst top-class athletes.
“I’ve seen an influx of girls in our program and I think it is great for publicity for the schools and I think it is another good chance for kids to play in a tournament atmosphere,” Burnette said.
— Basketball Victoria (@Basketball_Vic) December 14, 2016
“It showed that Box Hills girls program is relevant and that the school’s competition is growing on a yearly basis – I think it is heading in the right direction.
“The experience was really good, we ended up playing against a lot of good players last year and I think there were state players on all the other teams so that was good.
“Anytime you win anything and it gets publicised on Basketball Victoria or Basketball Australia websites it helps the profile of the school.
In the men’s competition, Marcellin’s impressive clean sweep ended a twenty-nine-year draught for a school known for its sporting success. A proud Head Coach in Brett Atley said the victory did wonders for team culture.
“The culture in our basketball team has been going from strength to strength and this was really the cherry on top – this is really a show of hard work that has gone into the program over many years,” Atley said. “It is not often you can say you are a national champion.
“As far as schools go that is the mantle, that is really the judge – and to go there and play in the Championship Division really means a lot to us.”
After a long season, Atley said the December tournament was a great opportunity for the teams to showcase all their hard work and achievements throughout the school year.
“The players have heavy work-loads – youth leagues, other teams, VJBL, PP ITP, state teams and for them to always come back to their school and play for their school jersey means a lot to me as a coach and also means a lot to the school.
“The development they made over that tournament and their ability to use all their years of experience together was really a true indication of that.
“I’ve never seen a group of boys hang tough so much and their heart and desire was second to none,” he said.
— Basketball Victoria (@Basketball_Vic) December 9, 2016
With over 2,000 athletes competing from over 70 schools in 2016, the Championship draws huge talent from across Australia with players like Dante Exum (Lake Ginnninderra), Mate Colina (Lake Ginnninderra), Joel Capetola (Marcellin) and Anneli Maley (Box Hill SSC) having competed in recent tournaments.
Trevor Burnette believes the opportunity to compete with top class players like Anneli Maley, who relished her return to basketball – gave Box Hill’s younger players a chance to develop their game.
“It was just a fun experience for the girls, Anneli Maley has been out of basketball for a while and it was kind of a comeback for Anneli.
“We took some younger kids and let them have a run including Tayah Kelly, Leia Hanafin and Madeline Brancatisano and I think they had a really enjoyable experience of getting to play with someone like Anneli and a chance to see how hard she plays,” he said.
Burnette believes playing in a competition of this caliber is good preparation for players who are wanting to further their basketball career both in Australia and internationally.
“In terms of the players, anytime they are competing in a good environment with good players they have a chance to get better and a chance to grow their game,” he said.
“I think the tournament atmosphere helps prepare them for whatever they are going to do in their career whether it’s go play in the big V or stay here and play NBL or play WNBL or go over to America to go to a university.
“It is just a good preparation for all of that.”
Anneli Maley, who capped off her return to basketball with an unbelievable 20 points and 36 rebounds in the final, said the tough competition showcased the strength of Victorian basketball and was a deeply enjoyable experience that will stay with her throughout her career.
“It’s such a high standard of basketball and it’s such a fun environment,” Maley said.
“We were coached so well and played with a lot of heart and that tournament meant a lot to me because it was my first tournament back after a year off.
“It also showed the high level of basketball we keep in Victoria – every game was a hard game but each game we played against a Victorian team challenged us as a group.
“I loved my teammates, they are what made the tournament so worthwhile for me, I made lifelong friends,” she said.
The Championships are open to all Australian high schools with Basketball Victoria supporting this year’s tournament, held at the State Basketball Centre and Nunawading Basketball Stadium.
In 2016, a record 154 teams competed with 535 games contested across the five days. This year’s event is set to be even bigger.
For more information on registering your school to join the Australian Schools Championships, click here.