MUVJBL U18 Girls VC preview: Round 8

THE penultimate round of the Melbourne United Victorian Junior Basketball League (MUVJBL) Under-18 Girls Victorian Championship Division gets underway tomorrow night with some teams’ last chance for finals, while others hope to secure home finals with important wins.

Geelong Supercats (13th, 7-9) vs. Knox Raiders (2nd, 13-3)

Geelong Supercats are relying on an upset win against title contender Knox Raiders, and a victory in the final round to have any hope of making finals. They sit second bottom of the Championship Division teams, but do hold a strong record of five wins from seven matches at home. Their opponents are unbeaten on the road though, which means this match will be as tough as it gets for the home team. With the Raiders facing top-of-the-table Bulleen Boomers in the final round, this is a must-win to keep in contention for top spot. Charlise Dunn averages 11.0 points per game as the top Raiders shooter in what has been an even team season along with Georgia Baldwin (10.4). For Geelong, Carly Remmos and Alisha Knights have both averaged 12.4 points per game in the Championship Division.

Bendigo Braves (8th. 9-7) vs. Diamond Valley Eagles (10th, 8-7-1)

A win for the visitors in the Bendigo-Diamond Valley clash will secure the Eagles a finals spot, and potentially move them clear of a couple of opponents to even position themselves for a home elimination final. They are just two wins from seven matches away though, while the Braves have won five from seven at home. They win and they are able to keep touch with Altona Gators just above them, and will be keen to also secure a home elimination final. Piper Dunlop (14.3 points per game) and Tess Barnes (13.5) are players to watch from the home side, while Jade Dunne (13.7) has been a standout shooter for Diamond Valley this season.

Altona Gators (7th, 10-5-1) vs. Nunawading Spectres (3rd, 12-4)

In another crucial clash for these sides, Altona Gators must win to ensure they grab a home final, but more importantly put themselves in pole position for a double chance. The Spectres might have a double chance locked up barring a complete disaster run – two losses and Altona and Dandenong both overtake them, but will be keen to take advantage of a top two clash in the final round to potentially grab a home qualifying final. The Gators are four wins and a draw from seven games at home, while the Spectres have not done too much wrong on the road with just the one loss from seven games, and losing its first game last week in a number of months. Louisa Fakalata has been a scoring machine, averaging 19.2 points per game and the top points scorer in the competition, while Maddison Zugna (12.4) has also been impressive this season. For Altona, Kayla Salmons has been a shining light, contributing 11.8 points per game.

Hawthorn Magic (9th, 8-6-2) vs. Southern Peninsula Sharks (14th, 7-9)

The lowest ranked side in the Championship Division, Southern Peninsula Sharks are coming off a win last round by 22 points over Bendigo Braves and will be keen to make it two on the trot to give themselves any chance of finals. They need to win both games and Diamond Valley and Geelong Falcons to lose both in order to lock up a finals spot. For the Magic, they need to win to maintain their spot in the top eight with Diamond Valley chasing their spot, along with the bottom two sides trying to force their way into the top eight. The Magic is three wins and a draw from seven games, while the Sharks have won three from seven on the road making this head-to-head tough to predict. Ryleh Killian has been a super player in the grade, sinking an average of 15.0 points per game, while for the Sharks, Charli Dobson and Emirson Devenie have both notched up 14.1 points per game.

Dandenong Rangers (5th, 11-5) vs. Bulleen Boomers (1st, 13-3)

In a game which could mirror a qualifying final in a fortnight, the top-of-the-table Boomers travel to Dandenong to face the fourth placed – in the Championship Division – Rangers. Dandenong has won five on the trot and is in fine form with five wins from eight games, while the Boomers have won the past three with an undefeated run when travelling from six matches. Alexandra Keating averages the most points of any player in the competition, with the Boomers shooter putting up 19.4 points per game, teaming well with Casey Valenti-Paea (14.5) and Erin Riley (10.3). The Rangers have also shared it around, with Emily Sewell (14.0), Elly Morgan (10.1) and Leia Hanafin (10.0) all showing they have the capability to put good numbers up when in the side.

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