THIS week in the Melbourne United Victorian Junior Basketball League (MUVJBL) Under-18 Girls Championship Division, there are plenty of entertaining contests. The Boomers will host the Magic in what could be the game of the round. The clash between Southern Peninsula and Altona Gators could prove to be a close one, with both sides still vying for a finals opportunity. Knox will hope to get further separation from second when they face the sixth-placed Dandenong Rangers to close out the round.
Bulleen Boomers (2nd, 10-3) vs Hawthorn Magic (7th, 8-3-2)
In possibly the game of the round, the Hawthorn Magic travel to Bulleen where they face the second-placed Boomers in a must-win clash. Of those already in the top-eight, this game should prove the hardest fixture for both sides. The Boomers are coming off a defeat, losing to Altona on the road as the Nunawading Spectres move into their place in second. The Magic fell to the top of the table last week, losing 35-45 against Knox. Luckily for the Boomers, they still boast top league scorer in Alexandra Keating, who has averaged 23.7 points per game across three outings. Casey Valenti-Paea and Olivia Tsantarlis have also been impressive for the home side with 12 and 10 PPG respectively. For the Magic, Ryleh Killian leads scoring with 14.3, but unfortunately lacks support similar to the Boomers – possessing no players within the top 40 other than herself. Casey Dunstan and Ella Crump are Hawthorn’s next highest scorers, both averaging six PPG.
Geelong Supercats (13th, 6-7) vs Bendigo Braves (6th, 8-5)
The Geelong Supercats hope to rebound from last week’s loss with a win over a struggling Bendigo Braves. Both sides sit on the edge of leaving and entering the top-eight, making a win in this match-up one of the most important outcomes of the round. For their position, the Supercats boast an impressive record at home (4-1-0). Contrastingly, Bendigo’s record on the road (3-4-0) is one of the worst in the top-eight. Chloe Skinner and Alishia Knights have proven a dangerous duo for the Supercats, averaging 13 PPG each across two and three games respectively. Carly Remmos has also been in form, following close on 12. For the Braves, Tess Barnes (16.7) has been dominant. When paired with teammate, Piper Dunlop (15), there isn’t a lot oppositions can do. With such scoring power, this game looks a real chance to be a round favourite.
Nunawading Spectres (3rd, 10-3) vs Diamond Valley Eagles (11th, 7-5-1)
The Spectres look to keep their huge streak alive when they face the Diamond Valley Eagles in what could be their eleventh consecutive win of the season. Like the Spectres, the Eagles are also coming off a win but are still battling to consolidate their position. A win for the visitors would be a big confidence boost as we move past the season’s midway mark, while a loss could threaten their chances with teams like Geelong and Southern Peninsula on the rise. It is no surprise that the Spectres have two players within the top-five for league scoring. Louis Fakalata has been in top form over the last month, averaging 20.7 PPG in second, while Maddison Zugna follows on 15.8 in fifth. Two spots below Zugna sits Jade Dunne in seventh – Diamond Valley’s top scorer with 15 PPG. Abby Hildebrand and Keeley Evans round out the top 20 in 18th and 20th, averaging 11.3 and 9.7 PPG.
Southern Peninsula Sharks (14th, 6-7) vs Altona Gators (8th, 8-4-1)
Southern Peninsula Sharks look to prove their worth at home when they face the Altona Gators this week. The pair have been in unusual form since joining the Championship Division. Southern Peninsula is yet to record a win in the new division, but despite some bigger margins, came close to knocking the Knox Raiders (77-79) in the second round. Similarly, the Gators came close against Knox (46-47) in the first round, tied with the Magic in the second, lost another close one to Dandenong before finally taking a big scalp in the Bulleen Boomers. The game could go either way, but the Gators have shown much more quality in their losses. For Peninsula, Charli Dobson has been damaging, picking up 16.5 PPG to sit in fourth spot for league scoring. Teammates, Emirson Devenie and Gemma Simon, have also been producing with 11.8 points each per game. Altona are without a player in top 20, with Kayla Salmons just missing the cut in twenty-first with 9.3 PPG. Tyla Paraha follows next on 8.7.
Knox Raiders (1st, 12-1) vs Dandenong Rangers (5th, 8-5)
The Dandenong Rangers have a big job ahead this week when they face league-leaders, Knox Raiders, on the road. Knox will not be looking to give up their two-win lead up easy, but have lost at home once before. In recent weeks, Knox have come close to losing from bottom-end sides in Southern Peninsula and Altona – plus suffered their first defeat of the season against the unstoppable Nunawading Spectres. The Rangers have fallen on both sides of the coin, collecting two wins and two losses in the Championship Division. For the home side, Charlise Dunn has been a stellar producer, averaging 13 PPG, followed close by Georgia Baldwin on 11.8. The Rangers will hope Emily Sewell delivers on her form, having averaged 15 PPG from two games. Hannah Rapp will also need a big performance if Dandenong intend to compete with the Raider’s lock-down style.