THE Dandenong Rangers and Kilsyth Cobras kicked off Round 4 of the Melbourne United Victorian Junior League (MUVJBL) Under-18 Boys Championship Division with a 64-64 tie. Despite the result, Kilsyth managed to end the Rangers five-game win streak on the road, taking home their second draw of the season. The Cobras retained top spot with the result, but the Bulleen Boomers and Nunawading Spectres both pressing with equal 10 wins. Mason Perry led scoring for the Rangers with 15 points, with Riley Simmons (12) and Zac Taylor assisting well in the tight affair. For the Cobras, Liam Croney led on the scoreboard with 18 points, followed close by Eythan House who dropped 16 with Josh Duach dropping eight to maintain his spot on the top scorers list (9th).
The Bulleen Boomers strung together their fourth consecutive win of the season, beating the Keilor Thunder (56-67) to remain the only undefeated side since the beginning of the VC post-split. The loss drops Keilor to sixth, with the Melbourne Tigers on the climb. Bulleen continue to threaten in second place, matching Kilsyth’s 10 wins following their draw with Dandenong. Owen Foxwell put on a clinic in the win, dropping an equal game-high 22 points on his way to fifth for the league scoring list. Anthony Dell’Orso and Otto Mananov were also impressive, scoring 13 and 12 points respectively. For Keilor, Paul Tsapatolis scored 22 points in the loss, jumping back to second on the league scoring tally. Tonga Matapule Otutaha finished next best for the Thunder with 10 points.
The Melbourne Tigers added to their impressive home record with a comfortable 68-54 win over the Bendigo Braves. The loss marked three consecutive for the Braves as they slipped further down the table. The Tigers passed Keilor Thunder, jumping to fifth and making top four within grasp in the coming rounds. Despite the game looking close at half-time (33-29), the Tigers ran over the Braves in the third (22-9) for an easy run home. Lyzel Mataika moves into the top-20 for league scoring with a dominant 18 points in the win. Teammates, Jordan Adams and Ezrah Vaigafa, were also impressing with 12 and 10 points respectively. For the Braves, Caleb Connick retains top spot for league scoring with 15 points, while Dylan Mccauley (nine) and Isaac Murphy (nine) both assisted well in offence.
In what was almost the biggest upset of the round, the Diamond Valley Eagles went down by a point in their 60-61 loss to the Nunawading Spectres. The Eagles opened strong with a 17-8 first term, closing out the half with a five-point lead as the Spectres hit back in the second. Quickly putting the opening term behind them, the Spectres went on to outscore the Eagles, hitting 17-18-18 compared to 13-15-15 to close out the game. Curtis Brecko led scoring for the Spectres with 17 points, alongside the league’s 3rd best scorer, James Roche, who put up 15. For the Eagles, Ethan Bateman had a star performance, amassing 22 points on his way up to thirteenth on the league scoring list, while Erik Kafritsas and Ky Cargin were similarly impressive with 13 points each in the loss.
The Werribee Devils ended their 0-4 losing streak since the two-grade split, collecting their first win in the VC after defeating bottom-end rivals, Korumburra Wildcats, by five points (53-58) on the road. The game moves the Devils to tenth, while the Wildcats drop to twelfth. Werribee’s Makur Jongkuch did well to match a top league scoring threat in Keith Robinson (second), putting up a game-high 24 points to snare fifth on the league scoring list. Darrien Herbert (13) was similarly impressive for the Devils, while the Wildcats’ NBL1 representative, Patrick Ryan, dropped 15 alongside Robinson’s 17.
In the Reserve grade, the Geelong Supercats got the edge over the Ringwood Hawks with 84-63 win, the Ballarat Miners earned a 67-52 victory at home over the Knox Raiders, while the Eltham Wildcats won similarly over the Hawthorn Magic (70-63). In the fourth consecutive home win of the round, the Collingwood All Stars won 61-51 over the Dandenong Rangers, while the Casey Cavaliers tied it up on the road against an in-form Waverley Falcons.
In the Championship Division for Round 5, the Bendigo Braves hope to get a leg-up on a struggling Korumburra Wildcats, the Kilsyth Cobras look to snare a comfortable win at home over the Melbourne Tigers, while the Bulleen Boomers and Dandenong Rangers battle it out in a huge top four clash. To close out the round, the Nunawading Spectres host the Keilor Thunder with the Werribee Devils hoping to go two in a row when they face the Diamond Valley Eagles.