HAWTHORN Magic have kept their finals dream alive with an upset eight-point win on the road over Nunawading Spectres to move within a point of Melbourne Tigers in the Melbourne United Victorian Junior Basketball League (MUVJBL) Under-16 Girls Championship Division.
The Magic just scraped into the top grade on the back of terrific late form pre-split, and could repeat the effort with their win over the Spectres giving them belief they can make finals. In the match against Nunawading, a 16-8 first term set up the win, with the Spectres fighting back to lead by three at the final break before a dominant 16-5 last quarter saw the visitors secure the victory. Ally Marshall scored 16 points in the win, as Evangeline King and Amy O’Hara both scored 10. Madison Sinclair was the top shooter for the home side, scoring 12 points in the loss.
The team in the firing line for Hawthorn’s late run is eighth placed Melbourne Tigers who suffered a huge loss at the hands of title contender Bulleen Boomers. The Boomers were restricted to 11 points in three of the four quarters combined, as Bulleen won each of the four quarters in a dominant performance. The heavy loss also meant Melbourne’s percentage dipped below Hawthorn’s, with a win in the final round against third placed Diamond Valley Eagles the only way to guarantee a finals place, though the Magic play fourth placed Keilor Thunder. In the match on Friday night, Bulleen’s Emily Maltezos was the only player to reach double figures, registering 14 points.
They might be unable to achieve a double chance in this year’s finals series, but Sandringham Sabres went a long way to securing a home final thanks to a three-point victory over fourth placed Keilor Thunder. In a match-up that could well be repeated in the finals series, the Sabres overcame a five-point deficit at the final break to pile on 15 points to seven in the last term and run over the top of their opponents, 49-46. Hannah Wickstrom (14 points) and Maya Dear (13) were the top two shooters in the winning side, while Tess Heal (12) and Bella Peterson (11) produced good numbers for Keilor.
Despite Bulleen’s percentage-boosting win, Diamond Valley Eagles kept on the Boomers’ tail with an impressive 53-37 win over Knox Raiders. While they were playing the bottom side, the Eagles did what they had to do in the penultimate round, winning every quarter on their way to the 16-point victory. Aseka Ratnayake was the dominant scorer for the Eagles with 15, slightly bettered by Knox’s Jaida Reid (17).
Meanwhile Dandenong Rangers sent a message to the competition with their eleventh straight win, destroying Ballarat Rush by 32 points at home. They scored 28 points to nine in the first half, and despite a spirited fight by the Rush in the third quarter, still extended the lead by five, and then controlled the final term 15-7, to win 60-28. Nyadiew Puoch (17 points), Jessica-Belle Catheray-Harvey (13) and Dallas Loughridge (11) outscored the Rush themselves, while Milly Simpson (11) did all she could on the losing side.
In the Reserve grade, top side Waverley Falcons got the points against Eltham Wildcats, 42-32, while Frankston Blues and Bellarine Storm maintained their places inside the top four with wins over Southern Peninsula Sharks and Bendigo Braves respectively. In the other games, Kilsyth Cobras had a shock loss to Sunbury Jets, while Ringwood Hawks got up over Altona Gators in the bottom two clash, 71-53.
In the final round of the Championship Division, it is hard to look past the two huge ladder-defining clashes of Melbourne Tigers hosting Diamond Valley Eagles and Hawthorn Magic taking on Keilor Thunder to determine who slots into eighth place. Not to be overshadowed, a top-of-the-table clash between Dandenong Rangers and Bulleen Boomers means all eyes will be on the Dandenong Stadium clash. In the other games, Nunawding Spectres hope to break what has been a home hoodoo of two wins from eight games – and also a three-game losing streak – when they face Ballarat Rush, while Sandringham Sabres can secure a home final with a win over Knox Raiders.