RESILIENCE was the key to Thursday.
HELLOWORLD BASKETBALL AUSTRALIA U18 AND KEVIN COOMBS CUP – DAY 6 RESULTS
No matter the side, it was the desire to push on against the odds that mattered most.
Everyone faced their struggles; some persevered, some were left to wonder what happens next… but above all the level of respect for the Victorian jersey was without comparison.
It started (and in some ways ended) with the Kevin Coombs Cup on court – knocking over the mountainous front court of NSW 65-39 before blasting past WA by 34 points to round out the pool stage. Annabelle Lindsay and Georgia Munro-Cook helped NSW get out of the blocks fast.
It took the blanket-defensive work of Will Crooks (six points), Brian Carminati (22 points) and Jeremy Tyndall (12 points) to throw a spanner in the NSW plans.
There were no easy routes to the basket – forcing Lindsay and Munro-Cook to shoot it long to some success… but even that avenue started to fade.
Jontee Brown (13 points, 15 rebounds) led from the front – continuing his stellar form across 2016-17 on court. Victoria’s three-pronged offence started to wear down the lion’s share of NSW’s roster… as the shots flicked out. From 12-15 down at the start of the second to 65-39 when the final siren sang, it was an emphatic end for Victoria.
Coupled with its 76-42 route of WA Black Ducks last night – led by a whopping 38-4 opening term – the emphatic evening was just the order head coach Craig Campbell wanted.
“It wasn’t meant to be that way at the start (against NSW),” Campbell said. “We had some very specific words and the head coach of the Australian under-23s also gave the guys a bit of encouragement to say they hadn’t played to their standards, so we got down to start off with our backs against the wall and then knuckled down.
“Wheelchair basketball is a lot more tactical than able-bodied basketball; you don’t have that lateral step to recover, so that we were able to negate Threat A, Threat B, and some teams you go even further down the line, so once we did our job on that today, it became quite frustrating for the opposition.”
The Victorians now face QLD Maroon in a semi-final from 12pm – with QLD’s star Australian Tom O’Neill-Thorne set to be “Threat A” for sure.
Then it was Victoria Country women’s turn to step up… and it wasn’t the cakewalk some suspected as they toiled to get clear of NSW Country. Don’t let the final 81-40 score-line fool you; this was way tougher than that.
To give you an idea, the first break was even… 10 points to 10 points. Shots rarely hit their mark and the NSW Country offence started piercing holes in the well made plans of Vic Country.
Breaking things open required Vic Country’s best and the best delivered – Chelsea D’Angelo (17 points, five rebounds), Steph Gorman (12 points, five rebounds) and Jaz Shelley (12 points) didn’t just turn the tables… they threw them out the window.
D’Angelo’s attack on the basket in particular impressed – drawing defenders left and right on the drive before dishing out to Gorman and Shelley on the edges.
The bench in particular needs a lot credit too – they stepped up and shifted the tempo back our way. Georgia Amoore (10 points), Agnes Emma Nnopu (five points, nine rebounds) and Ella Ogier (five points, six rebounds) showed this is a team-wide approach and all 10 made it a day for Vic Country.
From 10-10… it soon ballooned drastically to 53-17. Yeah… a 43-7 run in a quarter and a half. That’s the power of Vic Country women at full stride. A 41-point margin later and the girls had booked their way into the final four.
Victoria Country women will battle Victoria Metro women in a semi-final thriller from 2pm. Check in to our Twitter for live updates and we’ll also livestream the final few minutes on the Basketball Victoria Facebook page.
Then their opponents today – Victoria Metro – took the court against SA Country. Another day, another clash where you just can’t be surprised. SA Country brought their best and forced Vic Metro to use its all to overcome them. There was no skating to the line; SA Country led for most of the day after all.
Things got fiery at times, but the cool, calming presence of Sharna Ayres (13 points) and Maddi Puli (13 points, 11 rebounds) started shifting the state of affairs.
The second half belonged to Victoria Metropolitan as they started racking up steals and outrebounding the South Australians.
“You get to the final stage of this tournament and it’s always going to be tough,” head coach Paul Flynn said. “We’ve tried really hard over the course of the week to spread the minutes across the team; we probably played a few players a little bit more than what we wanted to yesterday considering how our pool games finished, but we were a bit flat today.
“We were lucky that they locked into our defensive assignments in the second half and we were able to bust open a little bit of a gap.
“We can’t come out like that tomorrow… or we’re in big trouble.”
Last, but not least by any stretch, was the first All-Victorian clash. Winner takes its place in the semis – Vic Metro men v Vic Country men.
There was no relenting. Court 3 was a molten mix of scorching heat, ample atmosphere in the form of cheering, vuvuzelas and Vic Metro’s bucket drum squad and most of all – passionate action on court.
Vic Country led from the front first – the Country crew had played in its fair share of hothouse courts around the state and knew how to play through the heat.
They dialled in quickly and made some incredible early gains – Noah Gown (16 points, six rebounds) was without blemish from beyond the arc after the first term, as the Warragul wonder started the quarter final in style.
The pace was relentless; there was no thought of tomorrow or beyond for either side. This was about winning the intra-state battle.
Throughout it all Keli Leaupepe (23 points, seven rebounds) was the glue that held Vic Metro together. During the best of Vic Country’s onslaught, Leaupepe kept his head and kept the Metro scoreboard ticking over.
Shooting the lights out, Leaupepe was at one stage 5-5 from the field and finished 7/8 and an equally impressive 9/10 from the line. In league with Leaupepe was the long-range bomber Sean Macdonald (15 points) and Deng Dut (14 points).
Slowly Vic Metro took to the front and started breaking through the Vic Country defence.
It was never by much though; the lead switched rapidly through the second term and at 40-39 at the break, you could barely split them.
That tempo was going to stay throughout and neither was going to fall over without a fight.
The third saw the best of Metro shine though – Joel Capetola (eight points, four rebounds, three assists) shone in his limited minutes as did Oliver Hayes-Brown (nine points).
Country never folded though; Joshua Gatbel Kunen (12 points, 12 rebounds) still soared at everything – bringing down the house with a driving lay-up – as well as the diligent defence of Jay Rantall (10 points) and Harrison Pepper (7 points).
But a 26-9 third term disparity put Country on the backfoot and it struggled to break back. In the end the score blew out beyond what the on-court display would suggest as both sides played extraordinary basketball til the final whistle.
Vic Metro has the late clash tonight; facing NSW Country in the semi-final from 8pm. Vic Country men will face QLD South at 2pm in a classification clash.