ARISE the best eight Australian junior teams… and aren’t we stoked that six of them are Victorian!
AUSTRALIAN UNDER-14 CLUB CHAMPIONSHIPS – QUARTER FINAL DAY REVIEW
The boys division has boiled down to Dandenong, Eltham and Hawthorn while the girls have Eltham, Dandenong and Bulleen squaring off in the semi-finals following a spate of frenetic quarter final clashes.
It’s amazing what happens when the pointy end of the tournament rolls around as A grade side seem to find that extra level… that little bit more… just to push themselves ahead another day.
With two all Victorian quarter-finals, it made for impeccable viewing across the courts on Thursday evening.
Nunwading vs Eltham girls. 38-41. The first big salvo between two Victorian clubs at #ClubChamps. Everywhere you looked this match had something big happening.
Jessica Del Brocco vs Neave Hancock-Wolfe in a guard battle for the ages. Genevieve Broadbent surging around the baseline. Power from Madison Sinclair. Dyani Ananiev and Lauren Jatzcak toiling under either basket. Yasmin Spargo using herself as a human cannonball… It was the clash the #ClubChamps deserved and the Wildcats and Spectres brought their best to match it.
Neither side truly grasped the initiative as the lead bounced back and forth. Every point was agony; this was a true grind. Neither side gave an inch defensively and the pressure ramped up with every attempt. Broadbent (12 points) soldiered on across the entire evening.
It would take a remarkable fourth from either side to clinch it. Nunawading threw its hand up early, pitching it to Sinclair (10 points) and Spargo (13 points) to go from three down to two up in the blink of an eye. On a day where the three ball barely dropped, Jatczak (six points) proved the Wildcat saviour as she nailed the go-ahead ball at 39-36 before dropping the next two to finish the job. The Wildcats are back into the All-Victorian maelstrom on Friday as they battle Bulleen.
Our second all-Victorian quarter final was just as incredible. Dandenong girls held on by a thread to take the points over Diamond Valley 42-38. A true back-and-forth in every sense of the word. The sides were dropping threes for fun in the last term; especially H Sparks (12 points) who had three of her own half way through the fourth in an extraordinary shooting display. Not to be outmatched, Abbey-Lee Wood (15 points) had four of her own for Dandenong. When you add in the power post plays from Eleanor Bollands, Holly Anthanasopoulos (nine points) and Nyadiew Puoch (six points) it led to a nailbiter – the only fitting end for one of these almighty squads in 2017. After the Sparks flew for Diamond Valley, locking the game up 35-35, Dandenong flew through Darcy Loughridge (two points), Puoch and Wood to build the buffer up… but the Eagles never quit and almost returned the favour. But in the end the Rangers claimed the gutsy victory to advance and face Gold Coast Waves in a thriller on Friday afternoon.
Facing North Adelaide in a tough quarter final, Eltham Wildcats boys had to grind out their 58-51 triumph. The Wildcats had to hunt down their prey, after the Rockets surged to a 11-21 lead early. Bu the likes of Kristian Ferronato (16 points), Harrison Stones (12 points) and Anton Stratov (11 points) found their way onto the scoreboard to chip away at that margin. Neither side gave up though; leading to an incredible final few minutes as shots flew everywhere and bodies crunched in for desperate rebounds. Josh Weddle (four points) was the cool hand on the free throw line – hitting four on the trot to push the Wildcats up before a Ferronato trey had the crowd going ballistic. They will face Hawthorn in 4pm semi-final; an absolute epic is definitely on the cards when the Mullet Men battle the Balloon Brigade. There’s every chance I’ll run out of mullet puns and balloon jokes by the end of that clash… but it will be worth it I guarantee you that.
Hawthorn Magic had its clash against Sturt Sabres well under control early as the scoreboard ballooned out to 83-49. Running his own on-court clinic, Denzel Timmons (26 points) was unstoppable wherever he found it. Defensive rebounds, fast breaks, grinding his way through the defence… it was another strong showing from the Hawthorn star. Jordan Lin (12 points), Guy Chalfon (10 points), Max Lefrooy (10 points) and Luca Cawthorn-Breheny (eight points) also took their time in the spotlight to help the Magic advance.
Bulleen Boomers girls had probably the most comfortable quarter final win of our girls’ sides – downing Sydney Comets 63-32 as Ally Marshall (17 points), united with Tess Heal (12 points) and Ella Mcintyre (12 points) to run riot. They will face Eltham in an explosive Championship semi-final.
On the other hand the Bulleen boys had the inverse result; losing to the Sydney Comets 43-61 despite almighty games from the entire roster. On a day where the ball didn’t drop right for them, the likes of Daniel Poelsma (11 points), Darius Winata (10 points) and Marcel Haj (nine points) surged on the scoreboard.
Dandenong boys continued their whirlwind run towards “the triple” with a 73-44 win over Norwood. Jerome Pierre (29 points) stole the show once again and does it so often he should have his own segment on the daily highlights package. His efforts were highlighted by the strong showing of Beau Tranter (13 points) and the expert assisting of the entire roster.
Ballarat easily accounted for North West Tasmania in their Shield quarter final as Jada Skennerton (14 points), Rosie Todd (10 points), Georgia Cox (eight points) and Bella Clark (eight point) split the scoring duties to great effect. The Rush will battle Forestville from 1pm on the main court to stay in the hunt for the Shield.
The Supercats boys proved too mighty for the Norths Bears, as the usual suspects Billy Dawson (17 points), Xavier Muhor (13 points), Jet Kneebone hit the scoreboard hard alongside Caleb Belcher (10 points). The Supercats will square off against Willetton in the Shield semi-final.
AUSTRALIAN UNDER-14 CLUB CHAMPIONSHIPS – CHAMPIONSHIP SEMI-FINAL DAY FIXTURE
Gold Coast Waves v Dandenong Rangers girls, 2.30pm, Dandenong 1
Eltham Wildcats boys v Hawthorn Magic, 4pm, Dandenong 1
Bulleen Boomers girls v Eltham Wildcats girls, 5.30pm, Dandenong 1
Dandenong Rangers boys v Sydney Comets, 7pm – Dandenong 1
AUSTRALIAN UNDER-14 CLUB – SHIELD SEMI-FINAL DAY FIXTURE
Forestville v Ballarat, 1pm, Dandenong 1
Geelong v Willetton, 3pm, Dandenong V1