IN Round 2 of the Melbourne United Victorian Junior Basketball League (MUVJBL) Under-18 Girls competition, just one match pits two sides that are yet to play this season against each other. It will likely be the game of the round with Bulleen Boomers hosting Bendigo Braves, while Dandenong Rangers travelling to face Diamond Valley Eagles will be another cracking contest.
Bulleen Boomers (3rd, 1-0) vs. Bendigo Braves (4th, 1-0)
The only game of the round that sees sides without history against each other this season is a top four clash between Bulleen Boomers and Bendigo Braves. The Boomers are coming off a really successful month, winning the National Junior Classic over the long weekend, and then knocking off the highly fancied Diamond Valley Eagles in Round 1. The Braves have been a solid team all season and have one of the tougher assignments in the league, travelling to Bulleen to try and come away with an upset win. Alexandra Keating (27 points) and Casey Valenti-Paea (20) were on fire in Round 1 for the Boomers and are just a couple of the names Bendigo will need to stop if they are to win this game, while the Braves have some talented players of their own, with Tess Barnes (15) and Piper Dunlop (13) among the top scorers from the opening match. Bulleen go in as favourites given their accolades and likelihood to be overall favourites with Knox Raiders to take out the title, but Bendigo are capable of an upset.
Southern Peninsula Sharks (10th, 0-1) vs. Knox Raiders (5th, 1-0)
Last time: Knox Raiders 64 defeated Southern Peninsula Sharks 40
These teams come into the match with differing results from the previous round, as the Sharks were humbled by the red-hot Nunawading Spectres, while Knox got over the line against Altona in a battle of the two top sides from the previous Pools. In the last match they had, Knox got home fairly easily with a 24-point win. Alannah Chatfield (12 points) led the way, as Charlise Dunn and Arielle Mackey-Williams (both 10) contributed in the 64-40 victory. Southern Peninsula’s Charli Dobson had a huge game of 25 points, but also picked up the majority of her side’s final score. In this match the Sharks will need to share the points around if they are to cause an upset, with the home court advantage something playing in their favour. In saying that, the Raiders are one of the most damaging teams, who can share the points around and have multiple scoring options, so expect them to come home with the points.
Diamond Valley Eagles (8th, 0-1) vs. Dandenong Rangers (7th, 0-1)
Last time: Dandenong Rangers 70 defeated Diamond Valley Eagles 43
While the final points scorers were not confirmed in the last time they met, Dandenong Rangers comfortably got home over Diamond Valley Eagles in a 27-point victory. Now both sit side-by-side on the table with an opening round loss, albeit against two of the contenders in the competition in Bulleen Boomers and Bendigo Braves. Whilst their ladder position might not look idea, they lost by a combined five points, so expect both these sides to be red-hot in this rounds searching for victory. Abby Hildebrand reached 20 points for the Eagles in the last match, with Jade Dunne and Keeley Evans both notching up 12 apiece. For the Rangers, Emily Sewell sank 14 points in a shared effort. A tough match to pick given both sides’ form against quality opposition, but the Rangers will head in arguable favourites despite being the visiting side.
Nunawading Spectres (1st, 1-0) vs. Geelong Supercats (9th, 0-1)
Last time: Geelong Supercats 65 defeated Nunawading Spectres 43
Nunawading Spectres had no issues blowing aside Southern Peninsula Sharks, and one of the title contenders is ready to make amends for a shock loss in the Pool stage. With their place in the Championship Division settled, the Spectres went down to the Supercats by 22 points which was a bit of a surprise, but credit to the desperate Geelong side determined to make the top grade. In that game, every player from the Supercats got their name on the scoresheet, led by Alisha Knights (20 points) and Grace Brown (14). Louisa Fakalata scored 16 points, one of eight players to get her name on the scoresheet from the Spectres. Considering the sparse differences in their Round 1 results, Nunawading will head into the match as strong favourites and will be keen to make it two consecutive wins, while the Supercats hope lightning can strike twice and they can try and penetrate the Spectres’ fortress.
Altona Gators (6th, 0-1) vs. Hawthorn Magic (2nd, 1-0)
Last time: Hawthorn Magic 39 defeated by Altona Gators 48
The last time these sides met, Altona grabbed the points in a low-scoring contest on their way to topping the Pool. The Gators suffered a loss in Round 1, but it was a one-point defeat at the hands of the super talented Knox Raiders outfit. The Magic on the other hand made light work of Geelong, running out 19-point victors on the road. When they met in the Pool stage, it was a 15-6 third term that was the difference for the Gators, as Trinity Steele (18 points) and Kayla Salmons (13) led the way. Ryleh Killian and Alycia Kennedy both scored 14 points for the losing side, but did not have enough contributors across the board. Altona will be favourites in this game, especially at home, but you cannot discount the Magic after a strong first round appearance.