THE top three sides in the Melbourne United Victorian Junior Basketball League (MUVJBL) Under-16 Boys Championship Division have gained some crucial separation on their nearest rivals after wins on the weekend. Bulleen Boomers and Eltham Wildcats both guaranteed themselves two of the top three spots with victory, while Keilor Thunder need just one win in the final two games to lock up the third spot.
Bulleen Boomers continued to show why their firepower is better than any other team, powering their way to a high-scoring 82-67 win over Geelong Supercats. They took control in the first half to lead by 12 at the main break, then extended the lead after a minor lapse in the third term to win by 15 points. Marcel Haj finished with a massive 34 points, while Joel Foxwell (16) and Daniel Poelsma (11) assisted well in the big win. Olivier Northam had 31 of his own points for the Supercats, while he and Koby Tranys (20) did the bulk of the damage for the visitors.
Keilor Thunder had a similar-sized win over Latrobe Energy, involved in a relatively tight contest for most of the game, but remaining in control to lead by five and seven points at the first two breaks and then a handy 13 by the final break. A dominant last quarter saw Keilor run away with the contest in a 31-19 term to win 78-53. They shared around the points with Nikolas Ellul (14 points), Brodie McWhinney (12), Xavier Maye (12) and Jackson Djatschenko (10) all having plenty of say in the contest. For the Energy, it was Kody Tibballs (21 points) and Coby Burgiel (17) who were the dominant scorers on the night.
Second placed Eltham Wildcats kept in touch with the Boomers in a much closer game than they would hope, just getting over the line against Dandenong Rangers by five points. The Wildcats trailed at quarter time, regained the lead by half-time and the scores were level at the final break. A 16-11 last quarter resulted in Eltham getting over the line and taking home a crucial win to book a double chance in the finals. Bradley Moorey (14 points) and Harrison Stones (12) led the way for the Wildcats, while Jerome Pierre (18) was the sole dominant scorer for the Rangers.
The loss to Geelong Supercats opened the door for Bendigo Braves who moved within a point of the Supercats courtesy of a seven-point victory over Waverley Falcons. The Braves lead throughout the contest, but it was the first half that set them up with the visitors leading by 12, before the Falcons cut the deficit to seven by the final buzzer. Macey Eaton scored 14 points, while Jett Vandenberg (13) and Jacob Nihill (11) were also big contributors. For Waverley, David Amum was the top scorer on the court sinking 25, assisted by Tesloch Thong (14) and Matt Jefferson (12).
The upset of the round belonged to Pakenham Warriors who sit the lowest of the Championship Division sides, but toppled the highly fancied Knox Raiders by four points at home. They trailed by six points at quarter time but dominated the second term to hit the front by three at the main break. Scores were level heading into the final stanza before the Warriors pieced together a 20-16 term to secure a vital win, 65-61. Jarred Small led the way with 17 points, while Kobe Wilson sank 12 for the winners. Jordan Anderson (20 points) was the key scorer for the Raiders, while Lachlan Heron shot 15 and Brody Harrison also added 12.
While the Diamond Valley Eagles-Nunawading Spectres clash result was yet to be confirmed in the Reserve grade, Melbourne Tigers and Kilsyth Cobras both enjoyed big wins over Southern Peninsula Sharks and Eltham Wildcats 2 respectively. In closer games, Hawthorn Magic got up over Whittlesea Pacers by six points, and Casey Cavaliers triumphed over Sunbury by four.
Round 8 sees a second versus third clash when Eltham Wildcats host Keilor Thunder, while equally as big is the top-of-the-table Bulleen Boomers hitting the road to face Dandenong Rangers. Knox Raiders will hope to take advantage of the top sides facing each other with a home fixture against Geelong Supercats, while Bendigo Braves travel to Pakenham Warriors, and Waverley Falcons host Latrobe Energy in the other games.