THREE in, three through.
Quarter final day at the under-16 national championships proved a spectacular success for our finalists with all our remaining sides advancing to the final four.
VICTORIA COUNTRY GIRLS
Victoria Country Girls put their mixed performances through the pool stage to bed yesterday with an emphatic 68-55 victory over NSW Country. They shook off the struggles of Tuesday and Wednesday expertly – making the most of their quarter final opportunity.
NSW Country pushed them every step of the way, but Vic Country’s tall assets shone when it mattered. Traralgon’s Jade Melbourne (15 points, 10 rebounds) continued an exceptional campaign so far alongside Bendigo’s Piper Dunlop (18 points, 12 rebounds) – who thrived under the basket and stood her ground to rack up another double-double as well as the perennially consistent Olivia Pollerd (16 points) from Southern Peninsula.
There was little the northern visitors could do to halt the spread of scoring or the hell-bent intent of the Victorians. There were no easy possessions, no simple transitions and especially no textbook rebounds. It was tough and that’s where the Victorians shone most.
For Vic Country coach Joe Turner, it was a return to the way his side loves to play and the results spoke volumes of their actions on and off the court together.
“I’m excited for the girls – they did a great job of carrying out the scout and executing our game-plan and playing at a high level,” Turner said. “We’re looking forward to the game tomorrow now and hopefully we can get another positive result.
“The girls have done a great job of taking up any piece of defensive instruction we’ve given them and playing that with 100 per cent effort, so that transfer of information has been great and our ability to want to defend has been awesome. We know we have to defend and play strong defence, so for them to be able to do that has been great to see.”
It was a win that meant the world to the girls – who celebrated the victory immediately after the siren – in a fantastic display of mateship and camaraderie.
“They’ve got that great mix of youthful excitement and still staying focused on what we want to achieve this week,” Turner said. “It’s a fun mix to balance and it’s definitely better than any alternative.
“Just want to say thanks for all the support from back in Victoria – we see it all, we see it online – and we’re looking forward to seeing everyone get around us for the semi-final.”
They’ll be out for revenge when they face NSW Metro in the first semi-final from 1.30pm on Court 1.
VICTORIA METROPOLITAN GIRLS
Victoria Metropolitan Girls carried their pool stage form into the quarter finals, making it 7-0 after a convincing 67-48 triumph against New Zealand.
The New Zealand representative under-16 side stayed strong throughout the first half – forcing Vic Metro to dig deep to finish the job. In the end, as many have found out this week, sticking toe-to-toe with the Metro girls for a term is reasonable.
A half is doable.
Three terms prove difficult.
But in the end, the full four terms are downright challenging.
Coach Sam Thornton flexed her roster’s versatility once again – giving the reins early to the likes of Diamond Valley’s Casey Valenti-Paea (14 points, five rebounds) and
The consistency combo from Bulleen continued to shine as Bulleen’s Gemma Potter (23 points, seven steals, eight rebounds) and Erin Riley (11 points, eight rebounds, five assists) maintained their stellar campaigns. Potter’s numbers remain almighty – even despite heavy rotation across the weekend – as she’s averaging 22.3 PPG, 7.83 RPG and 1.67 APG throughout the tournament to date.
The Metro girls will face SA Metro on Court 1 from 5.30pm to decide the other grand finalist.
UNDER 16 VICTORIA METROPOLITAN BOYS
Victoria Metropolitan Boys had to shake off the South Australians in a feisty match on Court 4, but in the end had the tricks up their sleeves to run out 78-62 victors. Melbourne’s Paul Tsapatolis (16 points, nine rebounds), Bulleen’s Fraser Elliot (16 points, nine rebounds) and Dandenong’s Zac Taylor (15 points) led the high-energy performance from under the ring. The interior presence, splashed with outside headaches in the form of Werribee’s Darrien Herbert (nine points) and Knox’s Joshua Woodford (nine points) was too much for the South Australians to corral as Dom Linossier’s men advanced one step closer towards back-to-back titles. The boys will take centre stage today at 7.30pm when they battle QLD North on Court 1.
UNDER 16 COUNTRY BOYS
Victoria Country Boys couldn’t turn around their luck yesterday, as the tough campaign continued with a 63-66 loss against Tasmania in the classification match.
The lead seesawed all morning as neither side could truly put the other down for the count. The dying seconds saw Tasmania hit the crucial three and hold off Vic Country’s attempts to level it up and force overtime. Phillip Island’s Keith Robinson (15 points, 21 rebounds) was dominant under the basket at either end and also found his range further out to showcase his inside-outside credentials while Ballarat’s Ethan Fiegert (14 points, six rebounds) and Shepparton’s Jorden Michel (10 points, 10 rebounds) also filled up the stat-sheet.
The Country boys wind up their campaign today from 9am against Northern Territory in a classification match.
AJC SEMI-FINAL DAY FIXTURE – FRIDAY
Victoria Metropolitan Boys v QLD North – 7.30pm, Court 1
Victoria Metropolitan Girls v SA Metro – 5.30pm, Court 1
NSW Metro v Victoria Country Girls– 1.30pm, Court 1
Victoria Country Boys v Northern Territory (classification) – 9am