THE top five teams were able to gain some separation from the bottom five sides in Round 7 of the Melbourne United Victorian Junior Basketball League (MUVJBL) Under-18 Boys competition with the dominant sides all getting wins over their lower ranked opponents three weeks out from finals. The bottom five teams are just one win apart from sixth to tenth, as three sides look to round out the top eight finals spots.
The closest game of the round was Nunawading Spectres’ six-point victory over Werribee Devils. The second placed Spectres maintained their top two ranking and extended their record on the road to eight wins from nine encounters. They led by just one point at the main break, but gained some separation in the second half, scoring 29 points to 24. James Roche was important with 24 points himself, while Luke Spurling (10) was a key contributor in the win. For the Devils, it was Makur Jongkuch who was everywhere sinking 27 points, while teammate Darrien Herbert managed 10 in the loss.
The top-of-the-table Kilsyth Cobras maintained their advantage with an eight-point win over Diamond Valley Eagles. They found themselves seven points down at the main break, but piled on 42 points to 27 in the second half to run over the top of the Eagles, 66-58. Roosevelt Williams stood out with 22 points, well aided by 16 from David Okwera, while Josh Duach (nine) was also impressive. For the Eagles, Ethan Bateman finished with 15 points, while Ryan Hoffman slotted 11.
Fifth placed Melbourne Tigers kept touch with the top four courtesy of an eight-point win over Keilor Thunder. The Tigers raced out to an 18-11 opening term advantage, but the Thunder reeled them in to trail by a point at half-time. The Tigers regained control in the second half to post 30 points to 23 in the 56-48 victory. Keilor’s Paul Tsapatolis sank 22 points to be the standout scorer despite the loss, while Tonga Matapule Otutaha was next best with 10. Melbourne shared its points around with Patrick Twigg (12 points), Tom Koppens (11), Ezrah Vaigafa (10) and Lyzel Mataika (nine) all having plenty of impact on the court.
Fourth placed Bulleen Boomers took control in the first half against Korumburra Wildcats to set up an impressive 10-point victory. The Boomers held a 16-point lead at the main break and extended that to 18 by the last chance. The Wildcats hit back in the final stanza but could not recover from the heavy deficit, going down 62-72. Anthony Dell’Orso sank 21 points for the Boomers, one of a trio of stars who went big as Owen Foxwell and Nicholas Woodall both delivered 15 points. For Korumburra, Keith Robinson scored 18 points, while Luis D’Angelo and Brodie Mabilia helped themselves to 13 apiece.
The biggest win of the round went to Dandenong Rangers who toppled Bendigo Braves by 20 points, The Rangers showed no mercy in the first half, racing away to 22 points and while it was much closer in the second half, the damage was done. Harrison Bowater scored a game-high 26 points, as Jyelin Moli (15), Riley Simmons (10) and Mason Perry (10) all reached double figures. Contrastingly, Caleb Connick was a lone scoring machine with 20 points for the Braves as the sole scorer to reach double figures in the loss.
In the Reserve grade, Ballarat Magic and Eltham Wildcats continued their dominance in the grade, picking up wins over Geelong Supercats and Waverley Falcons respectively to make it six and four wins on the trot. In other results, Hawthorn Magic defeated Geelong Supercats by 10 points, Collingwood All Stars downed Knox Raiders in a two-point thriller, while Dandenong Rangers 2 piled on more pain for Ringwood Hawks with 63-56, making it eight consecutive defeats for the Hawks.
Next week, Dandenong hosts Nunawading and Melbourne plays Bulleen in a couple of matches that will shape the order of the top eight, while Kilsyth will look to go further on top with a home match against Bendigo. In the other two games, finals hopes are on the line when Korumburra travels to Diamond Valley and Werribee meets Keilor.