FROM the pool stage we’ve booked three spots into the quarter finals on the back of undefeated campaigns from Victoria Metropolitan girls and boys and a hard-fought slog by our Victoria Country girls.
VICTORIA METROPOLITAN BOYS
STARTING with a bang – running up a 14-0 lead to start proceedings on Court One – the Vic Metro boys put the home-town side to the sword and kept it there in a 92-58 triumph.
Josh Woodford (22 points) dialled in early and went to town on the three-point line. His 5-from-8 outside the arcs left the WA contingent shell-shocked to start with. It took a renewed effort from the black-and-yellow brigade to make a match of it. WA Metro had plenty to be proud of in the loss, as the final score-line exacerbated what was at times an interesting back-and-forth as neither side truly grasped the advantage through the second and third terms.
Joining Woodford down town, Darrien Herbert (10 points) and Matthew Honeyman (15 points) let fly to keep the WA roster guessing about the last pass.
With Zac Taylor (13 points), Leyi Adebayo (nine points) and Fraser Elliot (eight points, eight rebounds) getting the job done inside, it spread the load pretty evenly going into the quarter finals.
Victoria Metropolitan coach Dom Linossier was pleased with the result, but didn’t want the side getting ahead of themselves despite their unbeaten run.
“The boys played really well together and we’re really happy with how we’re sharing the ball and making plays across the board through lots of different contributors,” Linossier said. “Bumps in games is what a nationals tournament is about – we took our fair share of hits and it was great to be able to take those punches and go in plus-seven at half-time then come out and play a little bit more Vic Metro basketball in the second half.
“The way we play defence – to keep a quality team like WA Metro – they’ve been putting up 60-70 each game – to mid-50s that’s a great job defensively.
“Also love the fact that we share the ball – it’s not about my shot, it’s about our shot.”
Undefeated through the pool stage is a great achievement, but Linossier didn’t want the past dictating the boys’ effort and resolve heading into the finals.
“It all counts for squat at this point of time – we’re into the quarter finals and that’s what we’re after – that next match up,” Linossier said. “6-0 is great, but 6-0 doesn’t mean anything unless we come out and get a win in the quarter finals.”
The Metro boys face SA Metro from 7pm on Court 4.
VICTORIA COUNTRY BOYS
The tough time in Perth continued yesterday for the Country boys, downed 63-88 by Queensland North. Victoria Country played its heart out to match the pace of the northerners with the first term proving a captivating back-and-forth. But any in-roads were swiftly halted by QLD North and especially Tamuri Wigness (26 points, six assists). That’s not to say we laid down and gave in though – the Vic Country effort was gutsy. Bendigo’s Dyson Daniels (18 points, 11 rebounds, nine steals) went as close as you can to an #AusChamps triple-double, with Daniels making the most of his opportunity as a late-call up to the side.
In league with Daniels, Keith Robinson (nine points), Jordan Michel (eight points) and Luis D’Angelo (seven points) toiled for the Country crew, but in the end – as has been a common thread throughout this week – the obstacles they’ve faced have been a bit too high to surmount.
Taking on Tasmania for ninth place today, Vic Country’s championship run will come to a close with higher hopes and the challenge ahead pencilled in for 2018.
VICTORIA COUNTRY GIRLS
The rollercoaster of emotion continued for Victoria Country girls on Wednesday. Their best efforts left them short 52-64 in the first-versus-second clash against New South Wales Metro.
At 26-29 down going into the half, it was truly anyone’s game… but the third term proved the big problem for our hopes. Missed opportunity and a spree of NSW steals left us staring down a tall task at 36-45 down. It took the girls four minutes to get on the board in the third – as Olivia Pollerd (13 points) rained in back-to-back drought-breaking treys.
Add to that another lay-up from Pollerd and frees off Jade Melbourne (nine points) and the third term was a disaster best left in the past. Piper Dunlop (21 points, eight rebounds) fired up early – finding room under the basket to own the scoreboard. She rattled off the first 12 in a row through the final stanza, before Melbourne bombed in another trademark three. All told it was a tough day, but thankfully saved for the pool stage and not the finals.
Back-to-back losses have pushed the Country girls into third in Pool B and will face NSW Country in the quarter final today from 3pm on Court 4.
VICTORIA METROPOLITAN GIRLS
Our last Victorian pool stage clash was all Metro from the get-go. Running out 99-55 winners, the spree started early through an Erin Riley (19 points, seven assists, six steals) barrage. She had 13 alone in the first term – knocked down 5-5 including two textbook threes from the corner. Add to that her defensive prowess – reeling off rebounds and making steals with ease – and it was a powerhouse performance… off only 26 minutes.
A 32-5 second term left no question about Victoria Metro’s intent to finish the pool stage on a strong note with everyone getting amongst the action. Gemma Potter (19 points, six rebounds, five steals) was equally impressive – as WA Metro paid the price for not guarding the ball well enough against her while Casey Valenti-Paea (12 points, six rebounds) slashed and smashed her way through the WA Metro defence. It would be hard not to highlight the whole side as Sam Thornton’s charges completed a team-wide job and the 44-point result proved the best indicator of it.
The girls take a 6-0 record thus far into the quarter finals where they will battle New Zealand from 5pm on Court 4.
AUSTRALIAN JUNIOR CHAMPIONSHIPS – QUARTER FINAL FIXTURE
Victoria Metropolitan Boys v SA Metro
Victoria Country Boys v Tasmania (classification match)
Victoria Country Girls v NSW Country
Victoria Metropolitan Girls v New Zealand