FOUR of the five games in this rounds Melbourne United Victorian Junior Basketball League (MUVJBL) Under 16 Girls Championship Division are between teams that sit at most three spots between each other in the standings. The Diamond Valley Eagles will host the Keilor Thunder in the game of the round, while the Bulleen Boomers host a similarly tight contest against the Ballarat Rush. The Melbourne Tigers will also face the Knox Raiders at home where both sides hope to record their first win of the VC.
Diamond Valley Eagles (2nd, 10-2) vs Keilor Thunder (5th, 9-3)
The Diamond Valley Eagles hope to remain in the top four this week when they face the Keilor Thunder at home. The Thunder suffered a rare loss last week against the Ballarat Rush (56-51), dropping them out of the top-four, while the Diamond Valley Eagles soared to second with a big win over the Sandringham Sabres (4th). The Eagles currently boast the best home record in the league (6-1-0). Eleanor Bollands has been huge for those standings, averaging 14.7 points per game on her way to fourth for league scoring. Aseka Ratnayake has also been immense for the Eagles, with a 13-point average from two games. For the Thunder, Tess Heal has been immense – leading the league in scoring with 19.7 PPG, while Bella Peterson (12) and Jaz Salon (10.3) have also been impressive.
Dandenong Rangers (1st, 11-1) vs Hawthorn Magic (8th, 6-6)
The Dandenong Rangers look to have the easiest fixture this week as they come up against the Hawthorn Magic at home. This match-up has the biggest split for position on the table compared to all others. The Rangers could potentially go seven wins in a row with a victory over the Magic, while the Magic risk slipping further. Though Dandenong’s home success is largely untested (3-1-0), having played the least amount of home games this season. The Magic may find an unknown weak spot with the Rangers missing the mark their before. Nyadiew Puoch leads scoring for the Rangers with 17 PPG, followed close by Dallas Loughridge and Myah Healey on 13 and 12.5 respectively. For Hawthorn, Amy Ohara has been impressive, averaging 14.3 PPG, with Ally Marshall also gaining props with 11.3.
Melbourne Tigers (9th, 6-6) vs Knox Raiders (11th, 5-6-1)
The Melbourne Tigers host the Knox Raiders in what might be one of the biggest affairs of the round. Neither side has recorded a win in the VC thus far. The Tigers sit one win outside the top-eight, though the Raiders could assume their spot with the right result. Again, neither side claims a preference for home or away, recording similar success on both ends. Amy Kurkowski leads Melbourne’s scoring average with 10 PPG but has only managed the one game this season, while from two matches, Camille Letts averages 9. For the Raiders, Gemma O’Donnell has been immense, averaging 15 PPG to sit third place for league scoring. Though like Melbourne, Letts lacks support. The Raiders next biggest scoring threat is Jaida Reid who averaged 7 PPG from two outings.
Bulleen Boomers (3rd, 9-2-1) vs Ballarat Rush (6th, 8-4)
With both sides coming off a victory and just one win separating them in the standings, the clash between the Bulleen Boomers and Ballarat Rush is set to be a big one. If Diamond Valley fall to Keilor this week, second place should be Bulleen’s for the taking. On the road, Ballarat’s success has been subpar (3-2-0), while Bulleen boast a fair record at home (5-1-1). Despite taking a rare loss in the VC, the Boomers are still title contenders and would hope to make a statement with consecutive wins off the break. Ella McIntyre leads the Boomers in scoring with 11.5 PPG, with Tabitha Betson following on 8.5. For the Rush, Milly Simpson and Georgia Cox lead scoring with 11 PPG each, with Jade Skennerton following close with 8.7. With Ballarat’s combination, the game could fall either way.
Sandringham Sabres (4th, 9-3) vs Nunawading Spectres (7th, 7-5)
This week the Nunawading Spectres travel to Sandringham where they face the Sabres in a big contest. Both teams are coming off a loss and will be eager to set the record straight. The Sabres have a real chance at contesting for top-four but will a face tough task in beating through Nunawading’s 6-1-0 record on the road. Both teams faced tough competition last round with the Spectres falling by two points to the Boomers and the Sabres losing by three to the Eagles. Hannah Wickstrom leads scoring for the Sabres with 13.5 PPG, while Summer Keating (10) and Jemima O’Toole (10) have also been impressive. For the Spectres, Evelyn Curtis leads scoring with 10 points, with Madison Sinclair follows with 7. Their lack of a big scorer will make things hard for Spectres – especially coming up against the Sabres line-up.