FOR the second week in a row in the Melbourne United Victorian Junior Basketball League (MUVJBL) Under-18 Boys Championship Division, the Bulleen Boomers have picked up a draw against a top-end side – finishing 63-63 at home against the Kilsyth Cobras. In the contest, both sides remained close throughout. Bulleen opened the first term 23-18 before letting Kilsyth back in touch in the second with a 17-18 term. The Cobras tied up the third term at 53-53, with both teams scoring 10 points each to continue the trend into the final buzzer. On the board, Bulleen had a lot to like. Anthony Dell’Orso led his team in scoring with a solid 18-point performance, taking him to fifth spot in the league for points per game (PPG). He was accompanied well by Thomas Giannatos and Isaiah Harvey who emerged with 15 and 12 points respectively. For the Cobras, David Okwera made himself known with 17 points, cracking into nineteenth spot in the top 20, while Josh Duach continues to hold strong in the top-10 (seventh) with a 12-point performance.
Dandenong Rangers rebounded in dominant fashion this round with a big 48-93 thrashing on the road against the Werribee Devils. After taking a 56-56 draw at home last round against Bulleen, Dandenong looked to set the record straight. They opened the first term 29-12 before following up with 22-16 to take a 23-point lead into the main break. Werribee remained competitive for the third term to keep the Rangers to 16-14, but they let off the accelerator in the final term as they Rangers surged home with 26-7 closer – winning by 44 points. Seven Dandenong players cracked into double-digits on the scoreboard, with Zac Taylor leading the way on 20 points – moving to seventeenth spot on the league scoring table. Riley Simmons (13), Joshua Heywood (12) and Harrison Bowater (11) were among others who impressed for the Rangers. For Werribee, Darrien Herbert led the way with 14 points, followed next by Kaelan Matejin with eight.
Nunawading Spectres missed their opportunity to snare top-spot after losing 57-60 to a resilient Melbourne Tigers at home. After losing to the Cobras in the round prior, the Tigers looked to rebound against their competition as they push closer to the top four. Despite losing the second-half, their dominant work in the first two terms set them up perfectly for victory – taking a 35-28 lead into the main break. The result, along with the Bulleen and Kilsyth tie, has made the top-four and top-two available for a lot more teams as we pass the halfway mark of the season. Patrick Twigg led scoring for the Tigers with 14 points, while Lyzel Mataika followed close with 12. Despite the result, Nunawading boasted a solid performance from James Roche – scoring 16 points to retain second spot for league scoring. He was accompanied well by Curtis Brecko who had 11 to move to fifteenth.
A major streak continued as the Diamond Valley Eagles suffered their sixth consecutive loss against the Bendigo Braves (52-45) on the road. Despite keeping close for most terms – with only three points separating them at the main break (16-19), the Braves’ work in the third shut the Eagles out with 20 points to nine to effectively win them the game. League-leader, Caleb Connick, was immense in the match-up with 20 points, alongside Ethan Cunningham (eight), Jordan Michel (seven) and Isaac Murphy (seven), who all combined well on the floor. The Eagles had Joseph Brazier hold strong in the loss with a team-high 11 points. Ethan Bateman followed next with 10 points to move to eighteenth spot for league-scoring.
Korumburra Wildcats also kept one of the division’s less-glamourous streaks alive after handing the Keilor Thunder their fourth consecutive loss (65-50). Despite sitting two positions below Keilor in fourteenth, the Wildcats held the game from the very beginning. They scored 17-6 in first term and 15-9 in the second – taking a 32-15 lead into the second half. The Thunder won the next two terms by a point each but the Wildcats closed out the game with ease. Brodie Mabilia was dominant on the floor with 17 points, moving to 13th spot for league-scoring. NBL1 representative, Patrick Ryan (14) and Luis D’Angelo (13) were also impressive – standing up in the absence of top-scorer, Keith Robinson. For Keilor, Aleksander Bandilovski and Tonga Matapule Otutaha held up strong with 11 points each.
In the Reserve grade, the Casey Cavaliers took a 52-41 win over Collingwood All-Stars, Ringwood Hawks copped a 56-80 belting at home against the Ballarat Rush, and Knox Raiders picked up a big 66-77 win on the road against Hawthorn Magic. The round continued with Geelong Supercats losing 64-71 to Eltham Wildcats and Dandenong Rangers losing to Waverley Falcons (52-69).
In the Championship Division for Round 7, Dandenong Rangers hosted the Bendigo Braves, Keilor Thunder face an in-form Melbourne Tigers, and Kilsyth Cobras look to re-join the winners’ list against the Melbourne Tigers. We finish the round with Bulleen Boomers hosting Korumburra Wildcats and the Werribee Devils hosting the Nunawading Spectres.