DANDENONG Rangers have locked up top spot in the Melbourne United Victorian Junior Basketball League (MUVJBL) Under-16 Girls Championship Division following their tenth win. The Rangers moved two games and a massive percentage clear of second with two matches remaining, making certain they would finish as minor premiers. The top five sides all won over the weekend, giving them some breathing space, and more importantly guaranteeing Bulleen Boomers, Diamond Valley Eagles and Keilor Thunder all double chances in the finals series.
Dandenong Rangers made it 10 consecutive victories by defeating Sandringham Sabres as the Rangers loom as the clear team to beat this season. They did not have it all their own way, leading by just two points at the main break, but a 28-17 second half made the difference for the Rangers who took out the match, 52-39. Nyadiew Puoch top-scored with 18 points, while teammate Myah Healey posted 14. For the Sabres, Hannah Wickstrom helped herself to 12 of her own.
Diamond Valley Eagles bounced back after their Round 6 loss to record a comfortable 20-point win over Nunawading Spectres. It took them a half to really take control however, trailing by two points at the main break before going ballistic in the second half, sinking 29 points to a measly seven and completely dominating the game to win, 54-34. Sophie Burrows (10 points) and Evelyn Curtis (11) were the only two double-figure scorers in the game for their respective sides.
Bulleen Boomers scored a regulation 17-point win over Hawthorn Magic with a similar performance to that of the Eagles. It was close for the first half with the Boomers finding themselves two points down at the half, before deciding enough was enough and sinking 28 points to just nine to run away with the 54-37 victory. Emily Maltezos scored 14 points in the win, while Rianna Thiele was prominent with 13 for the Magic.
Keilor Thunder got the vital win over lowly Knox Raiders but it was a lot closer than the Thunder would have liked, escaping with a six-point win to guarantee a top four spot on the table. The Thunder raced to a five-point lead at quarter time, but Knox reeled them in by a point at half-time only for the Thunder to regain ascendancy and extend the advantage to eight by the final break. The last term was a high scoring quarter, with the Raiders winning the term 17-15, but it was not enough with the Thunder getting up, 47-41. Keilor’s Tess Heal scored an impressive 20 points, while Bella Peterson finished with 12, as Zoe Shaw (11) was the key scorer for the Raiders.
In the final game, Ballarat Rush leapfrogged Sandringham with a narrow four-point victory over Melbourne Tigers. The Rush came from four points down at quarter time to have a dominant middle two terms and lead by eight at the final break. Melbourne hit back to cut the final margin to four again but still went down 40-44. Georgia Cox was a dominant player with a round-high 23 points for the Rush, while Neve Giddey was one to watch for the Tigers, sinking 12.
In the Reserve grade, Kilsyth Cobras and Waverley Falcons remain the teams to beat, registering wins over Bendigo Braves and Frankston Blues respectively, while bottom three sides Sunbury Jets and Ringwood Hawks picked up unlikely wins over Southern Peninsula Sharks and Eltham Wildcats, while Bellarine Storm handed Altona Gators yet another loss.
Looking ahead to next round, it will be Ballarat Rush’s turn to try and take down the raging machine of Dandenong Rangers on the road, while Keilor Thunder and Sandringham Sabres looms as an entertaining clash. Diamond Valley Eagles and Bulleen Boomers will be keen to record wins over their lowly opponents in Knox Raiders and Melbourne Tigers respectively, while in the other game, Nunawading Spectres and Hawthorn Magic will get the chance to redeem themselves after a disappointing Round 7.