BULLEEN. Dandenong. Eltham.
AUSTRALIAN UNDER-14 CLUB CHAMPIONSHIPS – SEMI-FINAL REVIEW
Then there were three.
It all boils down to this as the Eltham boys battle Sydney Comets from 6.30pm on Saturday evening while the All-Victorian girls grand final is between Dandenong and Bulleen from 5pm.
Our mullet men and far more fashionably sensible young women have one last roll of the dice as all eyes turn to the Dandenong showcourt to send off the 2017 Australian Under-14 Club Championships… hopefully with a pair of Victorian teams holding up the trophies.
Eltham advanced in an incredible 50-44 victory over Hawthorn on the showcourt. It was hard to hear anything over Eltham’s incredible crowd – they brought the noise to match their hairpieces as the crowd donned the mullet to support their lads. Hawthorn fought all afternoon; there’s no denying the Magic’s effort across the semi-final. The Magic broke away early on the back of some amazing shooting off Denzel Timmons (20 points), Guy Chalfon (eight points) and Max Lefrooy (four points). It ballooned to 12-2 in the first term; leave Eltham to take a desperately needed timeout and reassess. The Wildcats weaved their way through the Magic defence to return fire through the second term as Kristian Ferronato (11 points) Harry Stones (10 points), and Thomas Neale (seven points) united to slash the gap. There would only be little gaps from there on as Magic nor Wildcats could truly put the match away through the third. It would come down to one last hoorah in the fourth… which started with a Timmons long-bomb to level the ledger at 34-apiece. But Eltham just went back to work from there pushing ahead through Bradley Moorey (10 points) and Neale while the defence clamped down. A flurry of last term shots put the game on ice as Eltham finally established the match-winning advantage and with it – advanced to the final against Sydney Comets. Hawthorn will battle Dandenong boys for bronze.
Bulleen put forward an incredible first term against Eltham girls in the other all-Victorian semi-final, with the scoreboard ramping up dramatically to 22-5 at the first break. It looked all over from there, but Eltham never threw in the towel – even when it would’ve been a lot easier than trying to grind through the Boomers’ defence. Even when the Bulleen offensive charge left them staring down a monster deficit. Even with big hits and sore heads that came from contesting every rebound and every held ball. It was pure gallantry and the Wildcats ladies should not be disappointed in that aspect of themselves as players and people – that’s for sure. In the end the early margin proved too tough for the Wildcats to surmount as it stayed 43-27 by the final buzzer. Bulleen just had the tricks on offer early to make sure Eltham couldn’t match their pace as Ally Marshall (15 points), Ella Mcintyre (seven points), Tess Heal (seven points) and Amisyn Leigh (six points) led the sheets. Amy Temos (six points), Zarah Prendergast (six points) and Jessica Del Brocco (five points) led for Eltham. It puts Bulleen forward to face Dandenong girls from 5pm on Saturday for gold, while Eltham is off to battle Gold Coast for the bronze from 2pm.
There are two ways to deal with a mountain range. You go around them, or you power over the top as you climb them. Dandenong picked the latter in an incredible 47-31 win over the tall and tough Gold Coast. There were no easy lay-ups or sojourns through the key for the Rangers; every possession was earned the hard way. No matter what they did the rubber band didn’t snap through the first half though, as the Waves kept crashing in. The clever off-the-ball work from guard-duo Abbey-Lee Wood (14 points) and Dallas Loughridge (four points) started to chip away at Gold Coast’s confidence while the powerhouses in Nyadiew Puoch (14 points), Holly Anthanasopoulos (seven points) and Myah Healey (two points) did the hard work at the coalface itself – taking on the Waves’ tallest and making every rebound a battle. With one of the taller rosters at the championships, Gold Coast made every contest just that little bit harder… but Dandenong had the answers to the toughest questions. The Rangers started to outsteal, outrebound and outgun the Waves through the second half – driving a wedge into the scoreboard to seal the 16-point victory and earn a ticket to the finale against Bulleen from 5.30pm on Saturday evening.
Dandenong boys’ incredible 2017 was brought to a halt in an agonising 45-47 loss to Sydney Comets. Flinging back and forth, the lead was constantly changing as neither side grabbed the initiative early. As soon as Dandenong built a six-point gap, it was immediately snuffed out by the Comets; such was the intensity and tempo #ClubChamps. Austin Rapp’s (five points) trey squeezed the gap back to one at the half-way stage of the last term, but it started to get hairy from there for the Rangers as the Comets skipped out once again. The best efforts of Jerome Pierre (20 points), Arian Berisha (seven points) and Beau Tranter (five points) weren’t enough as Dandenong was left to taste a rare defeat in 2017. They will head into the bronze medal match to finish off an incredible season against Hawthorn.
Diamond Valley girls held on against Sturt in a 45-40 triumph, led by Teah Reichert (12 points) and Molly Wolfenden (nine points).
Geelong’s rollercoaster #ClubChamps had another twist in it with a narrow 49-56 loss to Willetton. Xavier Muhor (21 points) shone for the Supercats alongside Harry Den Dryver (nine points).
Nunwading girls pushed past Sydney Comets 58-56 on the back of some excellent offence from Evie Curtis (14 points), Yasmin Spargo (13 points) and Neave Hancock-Wolfe (12 points).
Bulleen boys surged past Norwood 83-61 as Marcel Haj (21 points) and Darius Winata (12 points) led from the front.
AUSTRALIAN UNDER-14 CLUB CHAMPIONSHIPS – GRAND FINAL FIXTURE
Championship GF – Eltham boys v Sydney Comets, Dandenong 1, 6.30pm
Championship GF – Dandenong girls v Bulleen girls, Dandenong 1, 5pm
Championship Bronze – Dandenong boys v Hawthorn, Dandenong 1, 3.30pm
Championship Bronze – Eltham girls v Gold Coast Waves, Dandenong 1, 2pm
Shield GF – Ballarat v Newcastle, Dandenong 1, 11am
Nunawading Spectres v Diamond Valley, Dandenong 7, 3pm
North Adelaide v Bulleen boys, Dandenong V1, 3pm
Geelong v Darwin Cyclones, Dandenong V1, 12pm