By Danika Dent
DALLAS Loughridge plays, trains and dreams basketball 24/7.
She gives herself one day off and plays netball on Saturdays!
The Loch Primary School student has taken inspiration from Olympian Leilani Mitchell, another small, fast and effective point guard.
However, the 12 year-old has a few more trials to get through before being called up for the Opals.
She’s well on her way, playing in the School Sport Australia Basketball Championships, representing Victoria in Terrigal, New South Wales from August 6 to 12 in the Under 14 squad.
In the 10-person squad, she was the second country representative chosen to represent Victoria.
During the intense competition, she played eight games, including the grand final, and was selected as opening point guard in seven.
Victoria was undefeated in all eight games.
Her team won: 76 to 37 against Western Australia, 92 to 12 against Northern Territory, 58 to 28 against NSW, 64 to 32 against ACT, 55 to 43 against South Australia, 56 to 40 against Queensland; then 48 to 30 in the semi-final against ACT, and 62 to 39 against South Australia in the grand final.
“Playing in the grand final was my favourite part,” Dallas said.
“We knew we were coming home with a medal either way, but when we won we were screaming and yelling and hugging everyone.”
Dallas was joined at the championships by mum Tanya and dad Matthew, who were screaming with excitement just as much.
Tanya said the competition was fantastic, with all the basketballers bonding around their teams, states and even cheering on each other during the championships.
“We all went out for dinner with the Northern Territory kids and they came and supported each other during the games,” Tanya said.
“Then at the end of the grand final, they all swapped tops.
“The kids all bonded together.”
Along with the chance to compete for a national gold medal, the championships are also an opportunity for youngsters to see if they have what it takes to become elite sportspeople.
The Victorian team is well on the way: the Under 14 boys won gold, the Under 18 girls won silver and the Under 18 boys won bronze.
“The selection process to get into the team was very full-on,” Tanya said.
“But Dallas pushes herself to get to the top, it’s all her.
“The games were high-pressure but she learnt a lot from set plays and what it takes to get to the next level.”
Dallas hopes to be selected for the Under 16 team eventually, but as a junior player she’ll be eligible for the Victorian squad for another couple of years.
She’ll also continue to compete in her Victorian games.
She started out at Poowong as a six year-old under coach Prue Blackwood, who was kept abreast of the results throughout the championships.
She now plays in the Warragul Warriors 14 A representative side, in the VGBL Victorian Championship Division 14 1 team with the Dandenong Rangers and is part of the Basketball Victoria Country Academy that trains at Korumburra.
She now plans to train with the Academy to make the Gold Nugget team, from which the state teams for the Southern Cross Challenge and Australian Junior Basketball Cup teams will be selected.
Dallas and her parents intend to take a short break before the next season starts shortly.