THE Korumburra Wildcats have celebrated their return to the Victorian Junior Basketball League (VJBL), by taking out the Division Two Title in the Under 16 Boys, the first ever VJBL title at any level for the Wildcats.
The team, who finished top of their Division 2 pool, have received praise and respect for their tenacious play and increased skill set, in their convincing win over the Whittlesea Pacers 55 to 39, last Friday night.
The Wildcats have had several tough matches against the Pacers throughout the season, but saved their best basketball for the grand final, displaying tough physical basketball, with strong team work and cool heads.
President of the Korumburra Basketball Association and coach of the Under 16 Boys, Adam Smith, said it was an impressive win, and a great way to end the season.
“The fellas have worked really hard this season, and it’s been great to see their steady improvement since our start in October last year. What was really great was seeing it all come together, for an almost perfect game in the grand final,” he said.
“We narrowly missed out on being graded into Division 1, which was disappointing, but the boys have showed some true grit throughout the year to finish in the best way possible.”
Another highlight for the match was Sam Flanders being named MVP, which capped off a stellar year for the talented youngster, who represented Victoria Country Basketball in the National Titles in July, where they took out the Silver Medal.
“Sam is truly a talented basketballer,” said Adam. “We are really proud of his efforts, and are looking forward to seeing what he does in the future and where his basketball takes him.”
It has been a big year for the Wildcats, having entered four teams into the Junior League, with three making finals in their respective sections. The Under 14 boys were graded into Division 1 and made it to the preliminary final. The Under 16 girls made Division 3 and bowed out in the first round of finals, and the Under 18 boys were graded into Division 4, finishing in 6th position.
“To have a team graded into Division 1, and one just narrowly missing out, just goes to show the depth of talent we have in our region,” said Adam.
“It’s a huge achievement for our area, but we are well aware of the level of ability in some of the kids in South Gippsland. We play teams from all over the state, the majority of which are Metropolitan associations and much larger regional towns. A lot of these teams have told us they weren’t quite sure what to expect taking on a smaller association, but have been pleasantly surprised by the strength and talent of our South Gippsland Basketballers,” he said.
The Korumburra Basketball Association has prided itself on promoting basketball throughout South Gippsland.
“We’ve really tried to grow the VJBL teams, to give all South Gippsland kids an opportunity to play basketball at the highest level possible. We’ve had kids from all corners of our area play this year, with kids coming from Phillip Island, Mirboo North, Leongatha and down past Foster to play. We are really proud that we have been able to provide basketballers in our area the chance to play in the Victorian League, without having to play for a Melbourne Based Team,” Adam said.
“While VJBL requires a huge commitment from parents, players and coaches, it lessens the load, particularly with traveling, if kids can play locally. It’s been great to see kids from other associations come and join the Wildcats. They don’t have to play domestic or representative basketball with our association to participate in our VJBL teams,” he said.
The association will have a few weeks break before starting the new season in October.