A HUGE night of finals action takes place in the Melbourne United Victorian Junior Basketball League (MUVJBL) Under-16 Girls Championship Division tonight with red-hot favourites Dandenong taking on the only side to find a chink in its armour, while do-or-die clashes include a rematch from last round.
Dandenong Rangers (1st, 17-1) vs. Keilor Thunder (4th, 13-5)
The top-of-the-table Dandenong Rangers look to make it 13 consecutive wins when they host Keilor Thunder at Hawthorn tonight. In their last clash, the Rangers won on the road by 16 points, 53-37 reversing the result from the earlier game between the sides back in May. In that match, Keilor broke history being the only side to defeat the Rangers, winning 40-33 on the road in a memorable match. Good luck to Keilor trying to stop the machine that ended the regular season with 154.1 per cent which included the best offence and best defence in the competition. Dandenong is also yet to lose on the road with 10 wins from 10 games, while the Thunder are not too far behind with seven wins from nine games. This game pits the top three shooters against each other with Dandenong duo Dallas Loughridge (13.5 points per game) and Nyadiew Puoch (13.4) going up against Tess Heal (17.9) who will be crucial to Keilor’s victory, along with Jaz Salon (10.7) and Bella Peterson (10.9). Dandenong’s Myah Healey (10.1) is the other scorer in the game averaging more than 10 points per match.
Bulleen Boomers (2nd, 13-3-2) vs. Diamond Valley Eagles (3rd, 14-4)
These sides have just played the once, and it went down to the wire, with Bulleen getting up 44-41 at home. It was the difference in the end with these sides finishing on the same amount of points, though the Eagles had the extra win to their name. The Boomers had one less loss, and two draws to level the proceedings, though the Eagles finished the season with a massive percentage of 135.1 per cent. Bulleen was fairly healthy itself with 123.5 per cent, and had no fear on the road with six wins and a draw from nine matches. Diamond Valley also just had the two losses, recording seven wins. Both these sides can rack up big numbers with Emily Maltezos (9.1 points per game) one of three players in the top 20 for the Boomers, while Eleanor Bollands (10.1) leads the way for Diamond Valley.
Sandringham Sabres (5th, 11-6-1) vs. Melbourne Tigers (8th, 8-10)
While it is not a home ground advantage, the Sabres do not have to travel to far when they play Melbourne Tigers in a do-or-die elimination final at GESAC in East Bentleigh. They have accounted for the Tigers on both previous meetings, getting up by 17 points in May and then 14 points in June, but have not played for more than two months. The Sabres finished seven points clear of their eighth placed opponents and won five and drew one of eight games on the road, while Melbourne finished with four wins from nine games both home and away. Sandringham heads into the game as strong favourites, but anything can happen in finals. Hannah Wickstrom averages the second most points of any player in the competition, with the Sabres’ shooter banking 14.1 points per game, while Jemima O’Toole has 9.6. Melbourne has just one scorer in the top 20, with Leila Davis (10.3 points per game) the main avenue to points.
Nunawading Spectres (6th, 10-8) vs. Ballarat Rush (7th, 10-8)
In the final game of the round, Nunawading Spectres face Ballarat Rush, and you only have to look to last week for when the Spectres got up by 12 points over the Rush in a 61-49 victory at home. They have traditionally been better on the road with seven victories from nine outings, while the Rush have split their 10 games, 5-5. It was the two sides only clash for the year, and now there is no turning back in the elimination final held at Keilor. Evelyn Curtis (10.9 points per game) and Olivia Morris (10.0) are the two key scorers for the Spectres, while Milly Simpson (11.3) and Georgia Cox (10.3) average double-figure points for the Rush.