THIS week in the Melbourne United Victorian Junior Basketball League (MUVJBL) Under-18 Girls Championship Division, only two teams within the top eight face off. Knox Raiders host Bendigo Braves in what will likely be the match of the round, while the match-up between Nunawading Spectres and Hawthorn Magic also looks set to impress.
Knox Raiders (1st, 12-2) vs Bendigo Braves (6th, 9-5)
After suffering a rare loss to the Dandenong Rangers in Round 5, the Knox Raiders face a similarly placed Bendigo Braves in a match that they hope will return them to the winner’s list. Since joining the Championship Division, the Raiders have won three of their five games but are yet to take a scalp from a top-end contender. Also, two of their three wins have come from margins below three points, raising questions regarding their worthiness for the top spot. Comparatively, the Braves have also lost two of their five outings in the Championship Division – one of which was a forfeit. Unlike Knox, the Braves have taken big wins against Dandenong and Boomers, making them seem the favourites coming into this match-up. Charlise Dunn, has been in decent form for the Raiders, averaging 11.5 points per game (PPG) from two outings. She’s followed close by Georgia Baldwin, who averages 10.8 from five appearances. For the Braves, Piper Dunlop continues to impress as she placed third across the league for PPG (16.5) from four outings, alongside Tess Barnes who averages 13.5 in ninth spot.
Nunawading Spectres (3rd, 11-3) vs Hawthorn Magic (9th, 8-4-2)
Hawthorn Magic face a huge challenge this week as they face Nunawading Spectres on the road. This year the Spectres have boasted the most dominant streak (11) seen in recent times – going through teams high and low to make it happen. The Magic have faced two top-end sides in recent weeks but may face their biggest yet when they travel to Nunawading. Hawthorn have not had a genuine win in the Championship Division since the opening round against Geelong (41-60) – following up with a draw then a forfeited win against the Braves. With their record in mind, the Magic seem unlikely to break the streak. The Spectres also boast second-best league scorer in Louisa Fakalata (19.5), followed close by Maddison Zugna (15.2) in sixth place. The Magic seem unlikely to match, despite holding Ryleh Killian (15.8) in fifth spot. With Ella Crump just barely rounding out the top-40 in scoring with 6.8 PPG.
Southern Peninsula Sharks (14th, 6-8) vs Dandenong Rangers (5th, 9-5)
Dandenong Rangers will hope to crack into the top four this week as they face the struggling Southern Peninsula Sharks on the road. Still yet to record a win in the Championship Division, the Sharks have the odds stacked against them. The Rangers have won their last three outings and sit two wins away from second spot. A win will help them press for second-chance territory in the coming weeks. Though despite Southern Peninsula’s current record, they still boast three players in the top 20 for league scoring. Charli Dobson has been in top-form, sitting in fourth spot with 16.2 PPG, alongside Emirson Devenie in 12th with 12.2 PPG and Gemma Simon in fourteenth with 11.6. Comparatively, the Rangers only have one player in the top 20, with Emily Sewell averaging 14 points from three outings in seventh spot. Hannah Rapp has also been impressive for the Rangers with 9 PPG.
Bulleen Boomers (2nd, 11-3) vs Geelong Supercats (13th, 6-8)
Bulleen Boomers home record (6-3-0) will be tested this week when they face Geelong Supercats this Friday. Though when compared with Geelong’s away record (2-6-0), it seems unlikely that the Boomers will fall. Since joining the Championship Division, the Boomers have won all but one of their outings. Though much like Knox, Boomers have been so far blessed with an easier fixture and are yet to take a win against a top-end sides. It is not unbelievable that the Supercats cause an upset this week – presenting an impressive contest (53-51) against the league’s most dominant side, Nunawading Spectres. Bulleen’s, Alexandra Keating leads the league in scoring with 21.8 PPG from four outings. She has been accompanied well by Casey Valenti-Paea who averages 13.8 in eighth spot, while the Supercats’ top players, Alishia Knights (13.4), Carly Remmos (12) and Chloe Skinner (10.3), sit below in eleventh, thirteenth and nineteenth respectively.
Diamond Valley Eagles (12th, 7-6-1) vs Altona Gators (7th, 9-4-1)
Looking to make it three in a row, Altona Gators look a serious chance to climb the table when they face Diamond Valley Eagles on the road this week. The Eagles have been less than successful in the Championship Division but boast an impressive 6-1-1 record at home. Considered with Altona’s 5-2-0 record on the road, this game has the potential to be a big one with both sides set to lift a few spots with a positive result. Jade Dunne has been impressive for the Eagles all season, averaging 13.4 PPG from her five outings in tenth for league scoring, alongside Abby Hildebrand who has been similarly impressive with 10.5 in eighteenth. Comparatively, the Gators’ best players both round out the top-20 with Kayla Salmons (10.5) in seventeenth and Trinity Steele (10.3) in 20th.