Australian Junior Championships – Semi-Final Review

ALL Victorian girls grand final.

AUSTRALIAN JUNIOR CHAMPIONSHIPS – SEMI-FINAL REVIEW

Sounds nice doesn’t it? After last year’s all boys under-16 grand final, this time it’s our girls’ turn to step up and show Australia how good we are. From the city to the far flung reaches of the state, there’s no doubting where the strength of this year’s tournament lies.

Our ladies have flourished throughout this week with Victoria Metropolitan the consistent, unwavering presence while Victoria Country has fought back after a rough start to knock off some big seeds through the finals.

Country girls

Our Country girls are through to the grand final! Picture: BASKETBALL VICTORIA

VICTORIA COUNTRY GIRLS

Taking the win over NSW Metro when it mattered most, Victoria Country girls claimed the 60-54 triumph on the back of an incredible all-round slog from the roster.

NSW Metro’s Isabelle Morgan (23 points) vs Traralgon’s Victorian star Jade Melbourne (seven points, 15 rebounds, four assists). It may look lopsided on the stat-sheet but don’t for a second underestimate just how difficult this match up was on either side. Melbourne took to the hard task with gusto, reeling in a dozen defensive rebounds to keep the Victorians chugging along while keeping a watchful eye over the talented NSW guard.

Showing the strength of the full line-up, Geelong’s Carly Remmos (14 points, eight rebounds) flourished in her time off the bench. NSW Metro had no answers to Remmos’ full-tilt attack on the ring, or her equally as potent team mates under the basket Bellarine’s Karli Bruce (10 points, six rebounds) and Bendigo’s Piper Dunlop (eight points, nine rebounds).

Bit by bit the Victorians started to flash the NSW Metro defence to breaking point. Geelong’s Ally Knights (12 points, five assists) kept the pressure turned up from all parts of the arc. Most crucially, it was a semi-final win with a shared burden and a big rotation. We didn’t try to just win it on the back of our starters and burn them out heading into the grand final – it was a conscious, smartly coached victory that the whole state should be proud of.

It leaves one last clash for our girls against a familiar rival – Vic Metro. Tip off is 5pm Perth time (7pm AEST) and will be livestreamed on the Basketball Australia YouTube page.

 

Erin Riley

Erin Riley let the win take the pain out of her banged up eye yesterday. Picture: BASKETBALL VICTORIA

VICTORIA METROPOLITAN GIRLS

Battered, bruised, but brilliant.

The Metro girls were forced to dig deep to see off SA Metro in a 63-43 semi-final victory. The roster was already down on numbers, with Courtney Willemse sitting out this match through concussion, and it only got worse early for Vic Metro after Bulleen’s Erin Riley (seven points, five rebounds) copped heavy contact and left the game holding her eye. Compounding the problem as well, early foul trouble sat Bulleen’s Gemma Potter (eight points, nine rebounds)… at least until Riley came from the court.

But the magic of this roster is its all-round capacity to pick themselves up and go about business with any five on court. Leading the way, Casey Valenti-Paea (14 points, six rebounds, eight steals) found herself at the tip of the spear and relished the chance to control the tempo and put SA Metro off their game. She chased down anyone careless enough to look only ahead and made sure the visitors’ offence came at a severe cost. Bulleen’s Ally Keating (12 points, five rebounds) ensured the match remained on Vic Metro’s terms throughout the difficult first half.

But that was the whole line-up’s doing – a 22-8 steal count speaks volumes of the defensive prowess they’ve made the foundation of their strategy.

Bulleen’s Sascha Korakis (nine points) came into the game early and found her range. Knox’s Georgia Baldwin (six points, seven rebounds) showed off her versatility on either side of the ball. You can rattle off names all day – showing how strong this team really is.

Things only got better after half time for Vic Metro. Riley returned – even though she could barely see out of her left eye – and still threw herself on everything. Most people would take a spell from diving on loose balls after getting hit in the head… but Riley isn’t most people and that’s probably a big part of why she’s wearing a Vic Metro jersey. Potter had to stay out of further foul trouble early but still kept chugging along, knocking in her lay-ups and menacing the SA offence on the other side of the ball.

All told Victoria tenacity and determination was not something South Australia could match as the final scoreline pushed out to 20, in arguably Metro’s best wins of the tournament.

But that’s the semi-final in the books and there’s one win they’ll cherish even more – today’s grand final against Victoria Country. This is must-watch and is available to livestream on the Basketball Australia YouTube page from 5pm local time/7pm AEST.

 

VICTORIA METROPOLITAN BOYS

An extraordinary performance from Queensland North was what it took to knock our boys out of title contention following the 68-74 defeat. It was a match for the ages – the crowd went ballistic for every moment on court. You couldn’t have asked for a better semi-final… barring the final outcome of course.

Vic Metro threw everything it had on guarding QLD North dynamo Tamuri Wigness (37 points), with Oscar Berry, Darrien Herbert and Lucas Failli all given time on the Centre of Excellence scholarship holder.

Wigness’ stat-line isn’t to say our boys failed against him – just that there is something particularly amazing about Wigness that no team could have stopped in that form.

We had hands in his face, bodies on him throughout the night… but there are some things you just can’t stop.

Our lads threw it all into that one – pinching a small 35-32 lead at the half on the back of the all-court game of Bulleen’s Fraser Elliot (17 points, five rebounds) and the continued long-range sharpshooting of Knox’s Joshua Woodford (11 points). Sandringham’s Luke Cleary (eight points) also kept the momentum moving in our favour on the back of his three-pointers.

It looked all over bar the shouting in the dying minutes as QLD North pushed the gap out to 12 points – but there was fight remaining in our Metro men. The grind back started with Dandenong’s Leyi Adebayo and Woodford as the defence strangled the maroons’ shot selection. Next up Dandenong’s Zac Taylor and Berry – same result, jump shot and a long three… to bring the game back into line at 65-69. The final minute stretched to an eternity, but in the end the ball didn’t fall our way as QLD North held on to book an all QLD final tonight. Vic Metro boys will face New Zealand in the bronze medal match this afternoon.

Vic Country boys

Vic Country boys returned to the winners list yesterday and hope to finish on a high note today. Picture: BASKETBALL VICTORIA

VICTORIA COUNTRY BOYS

Victoria Country boys got back into the winners’ list in emphatic fashion – knocking over Northern Territory 94-53 on the back of some golden shooting from. The NT boys struggled to match our resolve or tenacity through the second half as the margin ballooned through the likes of Ballarat’s Ethan Fiegert (23 points), Mildura’s Caleb Connick (17 points, five rebounds) and a bit of everything from Bendigo’s Dyson Daniels (seven points, 11 rebounds, seven assists, five steals).

The boys wind up their tournament this morning against WA Country.

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