The Melbourne United Victorian Junior Basketball League (MUVJBL) Under-16 Girls Championship Division kicked off week one of finals with the Keilor Thunder upsetting the Dandenong Rangers in Hawthorn (42-47). The low-scoring affair had Keilor take control in the second (14-17) and third (9-12) terms, with just one point separating their first and fourth terms. Despite sitting three wins below their opponent, Keilor’s efforts send them straight into the Preliminary Finals. Tess Heal was quick to take control in the match-up, paving her way to a game-high 18 points. Heal remains 2.8 points ahead of second-place as she jumps to a 17.9 points per game (PPG) averages atop the table. Jaz Salon assisted well in the win to notch up 12 points. For Dandenong, Nyadiew Puoch led with 12 points, but lacked support inside. Dallas Loughridge and Jessica-Belle Catheray-Harvey finished next with eight points each.
The next qualifier saw Diamond Valley Eagles bring down the Bulleen Boomers (53-39) with their fourth consecutive win. With the top two both suffering losses, Diamond Valley proceeded with Keilor into the preliminaries next fortnight. It was an unrivalled defense which led the Eagles to victory – conceding less than 10 points in the first three terms. In offense, Genevieve Broadbent aided Diamond Valley to a decisive 26-12 lead at half-time – recording 11 points for the game. She finished the only player to break double-digits, with Aseka Ratnayake following next on nine. For Bulleen, only one player managed over five points, with Aleisha Cadee leading with eight, Kobie Kino next with five. Next week, Bulleen will proceed into semi-finals nursing back-to-back losses.
Nunawading Spectres were bundled out in the elimination final after a 46-56 loss against Ballarat Rush. At Keilor Stadium, the Rush took control with two decisive openers. In the first, Ballarat raced to 13-8 and 15-8 in the third. Despite tying the second and winning the fourth, Nunawading’s fight-back was to no avail. Georgia Cox was one of two players to crack into the 20s in week one of the finals – recording 20 points on her way to seventh for PPG. Bella Clark was also impressive with 11 points on Ballarat’s end, while Madison Sinclair and Sarah Shelton both led for Nunawading on eight points each. Sinclair’s efforts move her to fifteenth for PPG with a 9.6 average.
Week one of finals capped off with the Sandringham Sabres eliminating the Melbourne Tigers following a 63-50 win. In the contest, both teams kept close throughout the first three terms. Despite winning the first, the Sabres trailed 26-29 at the break. By the end of third they managed to close the gap to a point, before blazing away with 23-9 in the final term. Hannah Wickstrom led the round in scoring with 22 points to take her team into next week. She currently ranks in second behind Heal for PPG – moving to 15.1 in her eighth outing. Lily Mao, Maya Dear and Jemima O’Toole also impressed for Sandringham with 12 points each. For Melbourne, Amy Kurkowski and Hayley Hermus topped off their seasons with 16 and 12 points respectively. Kurkowski’s final game moves her to fifth for PPG with 13.
In the Reserve grade, Waverley Falcons fell to the Frankston Blues (38-47), Bendigo Braves suffered similarly against the Sunbury Jets (53-58), the Eltham Wildcats defeated Southern Peninsula Sharks (57-48) and Kilsyth Cobras defeated the Bellarine Storm (59-52). The semi-finals kick off next week in the Championship Division with the Dandenong Rangers facing the Sandringham Sabres, and the Bulleen Boomers facing the Ballarat Rush for a spot in the Preliminary Finals. Diamond Valley and Keilor proceed to the next round.