By Sam Watson
LOCAL basketball star Dallas Loughridge has been selected in the Australian Under 19s Gems squad for the World Cup selection camp.
Loughridge, 17, is one of 19 girls who will travel to the Australian Institute of Sport in Canberra to take part in the four-day camp from June 25.
The first couple of days of the camp will include two-to-three training sessions per day and then the final days will include a lot of scrimmages.
The Bena local made the under 17s team last year, but COVID-19 cut short her opportunity to represent the country.
So, she’s “super excited” to have another crack and hopefully make the team once again.
If the point guard does make the team, she’ll travel to Hungary for the World Cup in August.
Staying true to her humble self, Loughridge said she wasn’t sure she’d make the squad this year.
“I don’t really know how I felt, I was kind of just seeing how it went I guess,” said Loughridge.
But anybody who’s been paying attention to her NBL1 season for the Dandenong Rangers wouldn’t be surprised she’s amongst the country’s best.
The NBL1 is the second highest level of basketball in the country and the 17-year-old has been on fire against opposition, much older than her.
After eight games she’s averaging 16.57 points on 46.46 per cent shooting, 4.71 assists and 3.71 rebounds.
In April’s national titles, Loughridge was also in dominant form for the Vic Country Under 18s, dropping 38 points and dishing five assists in a game against NSW Country.
The day before she had 28 points and four assists against Western Australia Country.
As a youngster, Loughridge watched her older brothers Cody and Darcy tear up the basketball court, so she was only six when she first started playing in the under 10s at Poowong.
She soon went to Warragul in the under 12s and then went to play in Victorian Junior Basketball League in the under 12s for Dandenong.
Loughridge has called Dandenong home since then, and one of her best accolades was winning Grand Final MVP of the National Junior Classic in 2019.
“That was pretty cool,” Loughridge said.
After a fantastic 2019, Loughridge’s momentum was halted with the state-wide lockdown in 2020, but she still found a way to work on her game from her parents’ farm in Bena.
“It was hard, but I just made sure I was doing fitness and strength training.”
“We have a tractor shed so I put our basketball ring in there, except I couldn’t shoot threes because the beams were too low.”
You wouldn’t know she couldn’t practice her threes because she’s been deadly from deep ever since basketball returned in Victoria.
The floor general isn’t ruling anything out for the future of her basketball career, and she’s already received offers from professional teams in Australia and colleges in the US.
“I’m hoping to make Australian national teams, play in the WNBL, eventually play for the Opals and then making it to the WNBA would be pretty cool,” Loughridge said.
“I’m not quite sure what I’m going to do with college or going pro, but we’ll see I guess.”
Loughridge will find out if she makes the Australian under 19s team shortly after the camp at the end of month.