By Sam Watson

The Bena local will be looking forward to the opportunity to take on Team USA on August 8.

DALLAS Loughridge has earned a scholarship to the Basketball Australia Centre of Excellence (COE) at the Australian Institute of Sport.

The basketball star from Bena has moved to Canberra to take part in the program that has helped shape the likes of Liz Cambage and Matthew Dellevadova.

But the achievements don’t stop there.

She’s also been selected to the Australian Under 19s team who will be chasing gold at the World Cup in Hungary next month.

At just 17, the point guard looks well on her way to making it big in the basketball world.

Her selection was for the scholarship and the world cup team was made easy after her performance for Victoria Country at the Australian Under 18 championships in April.

Loughridge showed off her ability to pass, run the floor, finish at the rim, and drain shots from deep against the country’s best.

And she’s also been enjoying a good year in the NBL1 with the Dandenong Rangers.

In an interview with the Sentinel-Times in May, Loughridge said she wasn’t sure if she’d make the world cup squad, despite her recent performances.

The humility of Loughridge is something that has made her such likeable teammate on the basketball court since she started playing as a six-year-old at Poowong.

At just 17, the point guard’s dominant play has had scouts watching her very closely.

The opportunity to constantly work on her game in an elite environment was an offer too good to refuse for Loughridge.

“I’m really excited about having this opportunity to further my game at the COE and being in a professional environment is something I’m really looking forward to,” Loughridge said.

“One of the man reasons I’m excited to go to the COE is that I won’t have to travel the amount of hours in the car for games and training.”

“I’ll be able to spend that time working on my game.”

The knowledge, skills and experience that the COE will give Loughridge will be a huge advantage in her career aspirations.

“My goal for the next few years is to continue to work as hard as I can to be the best I can be and hopefully that will take me to college, the WNBL and Australian teams.”

The FIBA Under 19’s Women’s World Cup will start on August 7, where Australia will play Egypt.

Loughridge will then face her toughest test yet, when Australia meets Team USA on August 8.

In 2019, it was Team USA who defeated the Gems in the final, so Loughridge and co. will be out for revenge.

Two days later the Gems will play Italy, then finals will run from August 13-15.