IN Round 3 of the Melbourne United Victorian Junior Basketball League (MUVJBL) Under-16 Girls Championship Division, three teams boast win streaks over six within the top-four. The Sandringham Sabres host the Diamond Valley Eagles with a chance to add to their seven win streak as well as steal second spot, while Diamond Valley hope to bounce back and threaten first. Third place also stands up for grabs, with Keilor Thunder looking to beat the Ballarat Rush on the road.
Bulleen Boomers (5th, 8-2-1) vs. Nunawading Spectres (6th, 7-4)
Despite sitting a spot ahead in fifth, the Bulleen Boomers have not fared well in the VC. The Keilor Thunder and Sandringham Sabres have handed Bulleen’s first two losses in the last fortnight and passed them on the table. The Nunawading Spectres took their first win in the VC last week but are still yet to crack over 40 points. A win will create some separation from the bottom, but it won’t be enough to jump their competition. Evelyn Curtis has been the most dominant for the Spectres, averaging 12 points per game. While not a high average, Curtis’ numbers still trump Bulleen’s, Tabitha Betson and Emily Maltezos who both average 8.5 PPG. Regardless, Bulleen’s best have combined well for the last fortnight and should hope to get a result before they slip down the table.
Dandenong Rangers (1st, 10-1) vs. Melbourne Tigers (8th, 6-5)
Dandenong have an opportunity to gain some separation on the table when they face the Melbourne Tigers on Friday night. Currently, the Rangers sit one win above second, with some serious competition posed by Sandringham (3rd) and Keilor (4th) who boast seven and six consecutive wins respectively. A win for Melbourne may see them jump a spot but given their unimpressive away record (3-4-0), it’s unlikely they will get the result. Dallas Loughridge (13 PPG) and Myah Healey (13) have led well for the Rangers this season and should likely put a show on for the home crowd. Camille Letts is Melbourne’s leading point-scorer with 9 per game, followed close by Leila Davis on 7.5. This pair will need a huge lift if they plan on leaving with a win, but from what we’ve seen so far, it seems unlikely.
Sandringham Sabres (3rd, 9-2) vs. Diamond Valley Eagles (2nd, 9-2)
In the game of the round, the Sandringham Sabres host the Diamond Valley Eagles in a battle for 2nd place. Depending on the outcome of Dandenong’s game, the win could send a team as high as first. The Sabres have been in outstanding form since their consecutive losses earlier in the year. They currently boast a seven-win streak, two wins in the VC, including an impressive win over competition, Bulleen Boomers. Hannah Wickstrom has been in great form, averaging 13.5 points per game, with Summer Keating close behind on 10. However, they will have their work cut out for them with the Diamond Valley Eagles boasting the top league scorer in Eleanor Bollands (18). Though coming off a loss, Diamond Valley stood strong against Dandenong, losing 53-57 against the top of the table. With Sandringham Sabres looming as potential finalists, it will be interesting to see if Diamond Valley can prove if they deserve their position.
Ballarat Rush (7th, 7-4) vs. Keilor Thunder (4th, 9-2)
Ballarat face serious competition in Keilor Thunder, who are currently vying for a top-two spot and are undefeated on the road. The Thunder have knocked off the undefeated, Bulleen Boomers, in Round 1 of the VC and followed it up with a comfortable win against the Melbourne Tigers in Round 2. So far, they have won six games in a row and pose a real threat come finals. Last week, Ballarat lost a game at home to Hawthorn which they were expected to win. Their success at home has been average and they are yet to face a top-side in the VC. Their top-scorer, Milly Simpson, has played well with 13.5 PPG – Jade Skennerton following close on 10. However, when compared with Keilor’s, Tess Heal (17) and Bella Peterson (12), who sit second and tenth on the league-scoring table, it’s hard to say they’ll be able to compete.
Hawthorn Magic (10th, 5-6) vs. Knox Raiders (9th, 5-5-1)
A win in this game keeps one of these teams off the bottom of the table. The Hawthorn Magic snared a much-needed win against Ballarat to keep them a single win off clearing Knox on the table. Knox have been much less successful in the VC thus far, losing their first to the Ballarat Rush and their second Nunawading Spectres. Though competitive against the Spectres, Knox recorded the lowest score in VC despite Gemma O’Donnell scoring half their points alone with 17. Similarly, Amy Ohara (13) and Ally Marshall (10.5) remain shining lights for Hawthorn, carrying their side to important win in Round 2. Magic’s poor home record (1-3-0) raises doubts on if they’ll lift from the bottom on Friday, but it’s likely to motivate more than hinder.