The under-18 team had a tough draw with four games on Saturday kicking off at 8.50am and finishing up at 8pm.
First up we hit Castlemaine on its home court, and with a slow start never got back in to the game.
Floyd Vincitorio worked hard in defence with some great rebounding and hard work on Castlemaine’s point guard. Josh Evans and Matt Rennie showed they could shoot, and Tom Dooley-Heath did his best against Castlemaine’s tall men, but poor rebounding and defensive lapses in concentration and effort gave Castlemaine easy points.
Not a good start to the day with a 29-44 loss.
A two-game break then we were back on court against Warracknabeal, with both teams coming off first-round losses and keen to get a win on the board.
Matt Rennie repeatedly got to the basket, Josh Evans showed he could do it both ends with strong rebounds and three-point shooting, Michael Coonerty put in a much better game stepping it up in defence and coping with some unlucky referee calls, and Riley O’Neill shot some timely points.
We had our chances, but still didn’t rebound well enough and gave up some easy fast break points, and when the siren came we were two points down 29-31.
A quick bite to eat during a two-game break, while cheering on the under-12 boys to their first win, and we were back on court again for the third game in five hours — this time up against Gisborne.
This was a repeat of game one with the boys not working hard enough in defence, giving Gisborne too many second chance points off the boards and not doing a good enough job of controlling the ball in offence.
We were 10 points down at half-time, and despite a much better effort in the second half, we were unable to get back within touch and went down 25-42.
A four-hour break saw the boys back on court with renewed energy, but tired legs, for their fourth game, up against Terang, who was unbeaten for the day.
The boys kept their best till last — Jarom Owen-Horn used his athleticism and rebounded with more aggression, Floyd Vincitorio was always there to help bring the ball down the court, Tom Dooley-Heath posted up and played his role with some good passes to our guards, Matthew Rennie scored repeatedly from fast break opportunities, Riley O’Neill played the team game, Josh Evans worked hard under the ring with blocks and rebounds and still contributed in offence, and Michael Coonerty gave his all.
In the final seconds we were two points down and had control of the ball, but were unable to get the final score to give us a win, going down 39-41.
Two two-point losses — oh so close — and we missed out on finals.
A big thanks to coaches Maddi Rijs and Zac Collyer for giving so freely of their time and expertise.
— Lisa Cullum
Backing up from the Shepparton tournament, the under-12 boys went straight on to the Castlemaine tournament on the next weekend.
First up the boys met Bendigo 5, who beat us by three points at the Shepparton tournament.
Again it was a competitive game, with both teams showing improvement from their meeting the previous weekend. But unfortunately we were unable to improve on the result and again went down by three points, 23-26.
Next up we played Maryborough, an association much closer to our own in size. The boys played a fantastic game, using all of their defensive skills and keeping the opposition to only six points.
Offensively we were much improved with better passing resulting in better shot opportunities and all players scoring to help us win 33-6.
This result put us in to the qualifying final against Bendigo 4, and we expected a tough game given we had been beaten by the Bendigo 5 team.
The boys played their best, and took it up to the taller Bendigo boys.
In a game that went down to the last seconds we were unfortunate to just miss out on moving on to the next round of finals, losing again by three points.
Our fourth game for the tournament was a consolation game, where we met Maryborough again, resulting in another definite win.
It was a great tournament by the boys — two wins and two losses by three points. Well done. Congratulations to all the players — Reece Butler, Cooper O’Neill, Ryan Shalley, Luke Hamilton, Shannon Wills, Marcus Perry, Robbie Hamilton and Cooper Gow — on their marked improvement over the two weeks. And to coach Maddi Rijs who is doing a great job of teaching these boys the game of basketball. They are looking forward to competing at Benalla in February.
The Tatura Amateur Basketball Association Autumn Competition will start on Monday, February 26.
This competition is open to players eight to 16 years of age (must still be 16 on June 30, 2018), and is played Monday and Wednesday nights. Registration will be open on the website in mid-January. Go to www.tatura.sporting pulse.net for more information.