IN Round 4 of the Melbourne United Victorian Junior Basketball League (MUVJBL) Under-18 Girls competition, the Nunawading Spectres continue to have their streak tested when they face the Bendigo Braves for a chance to make it 10 in a row. The Hawthorn Magic and Knox Raiders will also host a similarly tight contest with the Raiders coming off their first loss of the season and the Magic looking to break into the top four.
Bendigo Braves (4th, 8-4) vs Nunawading Spectres (3rd, 9-3)
In the game of the round, the Bendigo Braves will test their undefeated home record (5-0-0) against a dominant Nunawading Spectres for a chance to reclaim third. Last round, the Spectres shut down the Raiders’ 11-win streak to keep their own streak (nine) alive. The win took them ahead of this week’s competition, Bendigo Braves, who suffered a poor result last round after forfeiting to Hawthorn. Likely to have won their last game, the Braves will be determined to set the record straight with a big scalp over the Spectres. Piper Dunlop and Tess Barnes sit fifth and sixth for league scoring, averaging 16.5 and 16 points per game (PPG) respectively. The pair, along with Madeline Marks (11.3), have been stellar for Braves and should be eager to take the floor after their extended hiatus. For the Spectres, Louisa Fakalata has been immense, averaging 20 points per game to put her second for league scoring. Teammate, Maddison Zugna, has also been important with 15.3 PPG this game.
Hawthorn Magic (5th, 8-2-2) vs Knox Raiders (1st, 11-1)
In the second biggest outing of the round, the Hawthorn Magic will hope to take advantage of a wounded Knox Raiders with hopes of breaking into the top four. Last round came with unusual results for both sides, with the previously undefeated Raiders losing their first game and Hawthorn gaining a win from a Bendigo forfeit. Coming off the break, Knox are likely to rebound and build some space between them and the Bulleen Boomers in second. Rhyleh Killian has dominated for the Magic, averaging 19 points from two games this season. No other player averages over 10 points for the Magic this season – Ella Crump following on nine PPG. For the Raiders, Charlise Dunn and Georgia Baldwin have led scoring, with 13 and 11.3 PPG respectively. Since the Magic have not played a game in three weeks, the extended break presents a chance of lower cohesiveness when faced with the league-leaders, who will undeniably plan on responding following last round’s result.
Diamond Valley Eagles (11th, 6-5-1) vs Southern Peninsula Sharks (13th, 6-6)
In eleventh and thirteenth, both sides sit only one win below seventh place, making this game a must win for both. On Friday, the Diamond Valley Eagles host the Southern Peninsula Sharks, where the Sharks hope to snare their first win in the VC Championships. Despite coming off the loss last week, the Eagles’ impressive record (5-1-1) dictates that they win this week’s game. Comparatively, the Sharks record on the road leaves much to be desired (2-3-0). For the Eagles, Jade Dunne leads scoring with 15.3 PPG, followed by Abby Hildebrand on 10. Last round, Georgia Kitchell was immense for the Eagles, snaring 19 points to lead her team in scoring – followed by Dunne on 17. For the Sharks, Charli Dobson sits fourth for league scoring with 18.7 PPG, with her teammates, Gemma Simon (10.3) and Emirson Devenie (10), rounding out the top-20 at 17th and 18th respectively.
Altona Gators (9th, 7-4-1) vs Bulleen Boomers (2nd, 10-2)
The Bulleen Boomers have a real chance to steal top spot if they can topple the Altona Gators at home this week. Though in ninth, the Gators sit just one win below fourth, meaning a win for Altona could see them scale the ladder. Thus far, the Boomers are without a loss on the road (5-0-0), while the Gators haven’t defined a real preference at home (4-2-1) or away (3-2-0) but came extremely close to defeating the once undefeated Raiders (46-47) in the opening round of the VC Championship. Despite all that, the Gators are yet to win a game in the VC, recording a draw in their second game and losing their other two by a combined margin of four points. The Gators also lack damaging scorers with no player inside the top 20. Kayla Salmons so far leads with 9.3 PPG, followed close by Tylah Paraha with 8.7. For Bulleen, Alexandra Keating leads the league in scoring with 23.7 PPG, with Casey Valenti-Paea and Olivia Tsantarlis following close on 12 and 10 PPG.
Dandenong Rangers (8th, 7-5) vs Geelong Supercats (12th 6-6)
The Dandenong Rangers present a real chance to contest next round if they can beat the Geelong Supercats at home. Like many other sides, the Rangers sit just one win below fourth, while the Supercats also have a chance of lifting decently in the standings. Both sides are coming off wins from the break, with the Rangers surpassing the Gators in a tight win. Emily Sewell leads scoring for the Rangers with 15 PPG from two games, followed by Leia Hanafin who dropped nine points in her first game last round. For the Supercats, Chloe Skinner and Alishia Knights share the lead for points, both averaging 13 PPG. Carly Remmos follows close with 12, presenting a big chance alongside Skinner and Knights to punch a few holes in Dandenong’s defense.