SOUTH Gippsland and Bass Coast are well represented at the Victorian Country Basketball Championships being played at regional venues including Traralgon and Bendigo with several of the teams winning through to the finals.
Meanwhile, others including the Korumburra Under 16 Boys were punching above their weight all weekend at Bendigo, beating some of the big regional towns to make it through to the quarter finals.
Another of the local sides, the Wonthaggi Under 18 Coasters featured in “prime time” on the Herald-Sun streamed match of the day against the Mildura Heat on Sunday morning.
The Korumburra Under 16 Boys, who’ve qualified in the top division right through from Under 12s, Under 14s and now Under 16s, tied for second in their group after a guelling round robin series and won through to play the highly fancied Geelong in the Quarters.
“They did really well to lose by only a few points especially when you looked across the court and practically all of the Geelong players were head and shoulders bigger than our boys,” said Michell Mabilia.
“Geelong have a two or three players in the national program so we were really proud of the way our team played over the weekend and the way they competed with Geelong in the finals.”
It is expected that Geelong will either win or at the least play-off for the title.
The Wonthaggi Under 18 Coasters have progressed to the Semi Finals in the Victorian Country Championships being played at Bendigo this weekend after a thrilling victory over a talented Mildura team in their final group match and a crushing result against Hamilton in the quarters.
Their semi final will be played at 1pm today, Sunday, February 21 against Ballarat see live stream: https://www.facebook.com/TheBendigoNews/posts/179893023937121
A key to the victory against Mildura was the team’s composure in the first half when they established a double-digit lead and looked to have a firm grip on the match.
But with the Heat surging back into it in the second half, largely due to the field shooting of Archer Hammond, who knocked down a couple of clutch three-pointers, it was “game on” between the teams in the final stages.
The Wonthaggi team got out to an early lead in the first period and held that through the second period but the game really tightened up in the third with strong play by Mildura cutting the lead to just five.
A nice end-to-end run by Harry Scott for two points gave the Wonthaggi boys a breather at the four-minute mark of the third quarter, ironically their only points for the term, leading by seven at that stage, but Mildura continued to threaten again cutting the Wonthaggi lead to five with a minute to go in the third with some good field shooting.
The Mildura coach was off his seat with 40 seconds to go in the third when one of his attacking players was called for the charge going to the basket, instead of getting the free throw and the teams battled it out until the third-quarter buzzer.
At the last change Wonthaggi was still only five points in front but it was a handy lead in a generally close match.
The teams traded shots in the early minutes of the last quarter without success but in a purposeful drive to the basket, a Mildura player got the two points and earned the foul for an extra one and all of a sudden it was a two-point game.
That became three with success at the charity stripe for Wonthaggi and some good defence had them in place to score soon after but they came up short and it was Mildura which again closed the gap with a three-pointer.
Wonthaggi answered the challenge with two from the field and then with a crucial steal went coast to coast for another team effort score – the lead of four points allowing the boys in blue to settle over the ball.
Wonthaggi’s Archer Reid nailed one of his free throws to stretch the lead again but another Mildura three cut it back, making it two the difference.
Wonthaggi’s Angus Murdoch was active in general play and drove hard to the scoring zone to pick up the foul but was unable to land either of the penalty shots and it was still only two the diff as Mildura ran down the court at the 2-minute mark.
Wonthaggi’s point guard Reid directed play up their scoring end but Mildura called a tactical timeout for a final reset with just 1.49 on the clock and plenty of excitement in the crowd.
Reid came back on and landed a clutch two-pointer to extend the lead again but equal to the task, Mildura nailed another three and it was only one point in it with a minute to play.
Next Wonthaggi’s Murdoch went to the penalty stripe but was unable to make either of his throws and Mildura again went into attack however a speculative three-point shot from long range lipped out and Wonthaggi went into attack.
They came up short as the shot clock ran out and there were some tense seconds as Mildura’s team shaped up for one last shot with just seconds left.
Finally, though, an errant pass from one of the Mildura boys went over the sideline and Wonthaggi took possession with a handful of seconds left.
They got some penalty shots for a professional foul and nailed one of them to win the second-last game in their qualifying round of the Victorian Country Championships at Bendigo by two, 33 to 31.
It might not have been their best half of basketball for the week but they hung in their and got the crucial win.
The Under 16 Wonthaggi Girls also made the finals at Traralgon.
Watch the Under 18 Wonthaggi Coasters in their Semi Final today at 1pm: https://www.facebook.com/TheBendigoNews/posts/179893023937121