WEEK one of the Melbourne United Victorian Junior Basketball League (MUVJBL) Under-18 Boys Championship Division kicked off with the Kilsyth Cobras defeating Dandenong Rangers in the first qualifying final. In the match-up, the Cobras took a 39-27 lead into the main break after dropping a game-high 27 points in the opener. They followed with 22-15 and 17-11 terms in the second half, finishing 25-point victors. Kilsyth’s Lachlan Vandervorm led from the front with 19 points, followed next by Josh Duach on 16 and Ned Dillon on 10. Duach’s game moves him to eleventh spot for points per game (PPG). Harrison Bowater and Joshua Heywood were Dandenong’s most dominant utilities, controlling the floor to rack up 13 points each in the loss. Despite the result, Bowater remains one of the league’s most consistent shooters, moving to eighth spot for overall points.
The second qualifying final placed the Nunawading Spectres against Bulleen Boomers, which saw the Spectres walk away four-point victors. The 50-46 contest in Hawthorn was an undeniable thriller with countless momentum swings. The Spectres set the standard in the first at 20-8, leaving the Boomers to respond (3-15), tying the scores up at the main break (23-23). Despite keeping close, Nunawading led the remainder of the game. Dihan Wigget recorded a team-high 13 points, with Curtis Brecko following close on 11 and top-five scorer, James Roche, maintaining form with 10. For Bulleen, Owen Foxwellimpressed on both ends, amassing 12 points to move into the league’s top 10 for PPG, while Anthony Dell’Orso closes out in sixth with 10 points of his own.
The Melbourne Tigers earned their first win in the final series after eliminating the Diamond Valley Eagles with a 66-53 showing in Hawthorn. The Tigers’ efforts in the first half shut the contest down by the main break (38-25). Their lead extended three more points into three quarter-time, before easing off to concede the last. Jordan Adams backed up last week’s performance to lead his side with another 15 points. Patrick Twigg followed next with 14, while Lyzel Mataika and Joshua Giddey round out with 12 points each. Giddey’s efforts place him in twelfth for PPG in just his second game of the year. For Diamond Valley, Ethan Bateman led the game with 17 points – accompanied well by Matt Marasco with 10.
The last Elimination Final saw Keilor Thunder get the better of Bendigo Braves (81-62). Keilor started poor in the match-up, but built momentum in the second. For the remaining three terms Keilor recorded over 20 points in each quarter. Bendigo did well to maintain their efforts from the first, but failed on the defensive end, losing their opportunity for semi-finals. Paul Tsapatolis‘s return to Keilor could have revived their chances at finals. After missing five games in the regular season, Tsapatolis returned to drop a round-high 38 points – taking him to first for PPG (23.4). No other player recorded over 10 for Keilor, with Jeffrey Ofoedu following with eight. For Bendigo, Caleb Connick impressed with 19 points, but could not match Tsapatolis in offense – slipping from the top two. Isaac Murphy also played well, finishing his season with 14 points.
In the Reserve grade, the Casey Cavaliers record a 65-60 win over the Waverley Falcons, the Ballarat Rush defeat the Eltham Wildcats (63-46), the Collingwood All-Stars best the Hawthorn Magic (60-57), and the Knox Raiders win 67-48 over the Dandenong Rangers. The Championship Division kicks off the semi-finals next week with the Dandenong Rangers facing the Melbourne Tigers, and the Bulleen Boomers facing the Keilor Thunder for a spot against Kilsyth and Nunawading in the Preliminary Finals.