Basketball Australia Under 18 and Kevin Coombs Cup – Semi-final review

THEN there were two.  


Victoria Country women and Victoria Metropolitan men booked their spots in the #AusChamps grand finals today with emphatic semi-final triumphs over Victoria Metropolitan women and NSW Country men respectively.

Victoria Metropolitan women and Victoria’s Kevin Coombs Cup team will head into the bronze medal matches today to round out the potential podium presence for Victoria on the final day in Townsville.

All eyes shifted to court one early as the eagerly awaited battle between Vic Country and Vic Metro women picked up at a frenetic pace.

Matching pace with Vic Country women this tournament has proved a monstrous challenge, but Vic Metro took it eagerly early. The first term clamp-down from Vic Metro forced Country to play its best cards quickly or risk taking a deficit into the break.

Innika Hodgson

Innika Hodgson flies to the rim. Picture: BASKETBALL VICTORIA

As it has done all week, the defence shone brightest for Vic Country. While the sharpshooter side of Steph Gorman (17 points, eight steals, six rebounds) gets a lot of the kudos, her defensive nuance and ability to strip the ball back at will was just as impressive. In league with Jaz Shelley (21 points, seven rebounds) and Chelsea D’Angelo (20 points, five assists), the Country wrecking crew started going to work on Vic Metro’s rhythm.

They forced the error – Vic Metro suffered at the hands of Gorman and D’Angelo in particular as they ripped it away from them time and time again. A 35-14 turnover count stood out from the myriad of stats Vic Country excelled in.

Gorman put the game out of Vic Metro’s reach through the second half with her three-point shooting – especially back-to-back efforts at the start of the third.

It pushed the margin out to 20 points and from there Country would rotate the roster and give itself the best chance at gold on the final day.

The fourth was much of the same as Country held sway over the tempo. Capping things off… Country centre Abbey Sutherland sunk a monster three on the buzzer to seal Country its ticket to the grand final with an 88-48 triumph.

“We’ve been sitting there telling the girls it’s game by game and really you’re constantly eyeing off the gold medal game all week… so it’s good that we can do the work to get here but it’s good it’s finally here,” Country coach Gerard Hilliard said. “I think our defensive socut every game has been really well executed – the girls have really bought in and are playing for each other and our defence kick-starts our offence and that’s our game at the moment.”

Victoria Country women have a chance to earn their first national under-18 title since the 2000 success in Penrith. They will face South Australia Metropolitan at 5pm at Townsville Stadium.

The only cause for concern in the Vic Country camp is with Ahlise Hurst (two points), who was ruled out part way through the semi-final with a concussion, but she is expected to play today in the finale.

There weren’t any lowlights in the Metro team… just that they didn’t shine as brightly as the Country brigade on the day. Metro fought. It would be easy to concede; it’s harder to run out a 40-point defeat with nothing left in the tank. Sharna Ayres (14 points), Madi Puli (10 points) and Lana Hollingsworth (eight points) led the stat-sheet for Metro.

But it was the determination of the likes of LT Poa (two points), Isis Lopes (four points) and Cassidy Gould (five points) that really stood out. Energy and attitude can’t be shown on the sheet and for Metro, they still had spades of confidence throughout the encounter. That’ll put these women in a great position going forward with their careers and lives on and off the court.

In the end Country had too many answers to the Metro brigade, but nonetheless Metro fought it out and showed the grit and determination demanded for any Victorian squad.

It brings to a close a golden run for Victoria Metro women, having taken home the Maree Jackson Trophy on the last three occasions and a staggering eight-of-10 over the last decade.

Deng Dut

Deng Dut pops up for another two in Vic Metro’s semi-final triumph. Picture: BASKETBALL VICTORIA

Victoria Metropolitan’s men were last up.

There was no warm up phase. Nothing Metro did screamed of “taking it easy”. They ran, they shot, they dominated. When you look up at the board following the first term and see “22-5” in bright green lights, it’s safe to say you’ve done a lot of things right.

It was emphatic… and for Vic Metro do it in a semi-final speaks of next-level brilliance.

NSW Country stood as spectator for most of the first half as Vic Metro ripped chunks out of their defence. The light blue boys couldn’t hit their shots and struggled to work around the likes of Oliver Hayes-Brown (23 points, 12 rebounds), Deng Dut (eight points) and Joel Capetola (eight points, six rebounds) put in work and earned their just rewards.

Tyler Robertson (eight points) opened his account in the third with back-to-back bombs and in league with Sean Macdonald (16 points) shot the three-ball exceptionally.

But importantly as well heading into tomorrow, the rest for the entire roster was there. Not even Hollywood could script a better outcome for Darren Perry’s charges heading into the last outing of the 2017 tournament.

To get the 86-60 win and recuperate his roster as well… Perry couldn’t have been more pleased from Friday night’s defensively-minded effort.

“We’ve been talking about playing defence all week and have probably let ourselves down in games this week on the transition defence and some of it was our communication,” Perry said. “But the first half tonight everything was in place – we knew what we were doing in our pressure defence, we knew what we were doing in the half-court defence and we were aggressive playing our offence and at the rim which was good to see.”

Standing between them and bringing the Merv Emms Trophy home for the second year in a row is a star-studded QLD North team, featuring Sam Froling, Kody Stattman and Aiden Krause amongst others.

Needless to say, this will be a fitting end to an amazing tournament when it tips off at 7pm at Townsville Stadium.

Jaylen Brown

Jaylen Brown fights for a rebound. Picture: BASKETBALL VICTORIA

It was a tough day on court for our Victorian wheelchair stars with the Kevin Coombs Cup team defeated in the semi-final and the preliminary final by both Queensland teams.

It started with QLD Maroons breaking through the Victorians 81-57. With Australian representative Tom O’Neill-Thorne (33 points, 11 rebounds, 12 assists, 11 steals) knocking in a rare quadruple double at this tournament… it made an uphill battle all the more difficult.

Brian Carminati (17 points, seven rebounds), Jeremy Tyndall (12 points) and Jontee Brown (eight points, 14 rebounds) led from the front in game one of the day.

It would be much of the same in the second clash as Victoria couldn’t find outs to Queenland Whites’ top efforts. The best efforts of Brian Carminati (12 points), Jontee Brown (eight points) and Will Crooks (six points) wasn’t enough to stop the QLD White juggernaut steaming past them in 35-58. It leaves the Kevin Coombs Cup side with a chance at bronze when it battles New South Wales from 12pm.

Vic Country men were bested 57-80 in the classification match against QLD South. Jay Rantall (13 points), Matthew Cumming (10 points, 11 rebounds) and Joshua Gatbel Kunen (nine points, nine rebounds) excelled for the Country men, who now face WA Metro in their final clash of the tournament from 11am today.


11am – Victoria Country men v WA Metro

11am – U18 Women’s bronze medal: Vic Metro v QLD North

1pm – Kevin Coombs Cup bronze medal: Victoria v New South Wales

5pm – U18 Women’s gold medal: Vic Country v South Australia Metro

7pm – U18 Men’s gold medal: Vic Metro v QLD North

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