AFTER taking out the National Junior Classic four days prior, Bulleen Boomers’ Under-18 Girls were always going to be a team to beat in the Melbourne United Victorian Junior Basketball League (MUVJBL) Championship Division. On Friday night, Diamond Valley Eagles threw everything at the Boomers in a bid to grab an early win, but it was the champs that held firm in a three-point win – one of three matches in the grade that were decided by three points or less. Alexandra Keating (27 points) and Casey Valenti-Paea (20) were a tag team of horror for the Eagles, while Olivia Tsantarlis finished with eight points in the Boomers’ victory. For the losers, Abby Hildebrand (20 points) stood tall, while Keeley Evans and Jade Dunne both sank 12 points.
In the most thrilling game of the round, the two top sides from the pool stage went head-to-head and resulted in Knox Raiders defeating Altona Gators by just one point. Charlise Dunn (13 points) stood tall for the Raiders when it counted, while Georgia Baldwin (nine) and Zoe Jenkins (eight) were also important. For the Gators, Jordan Wilson (11 points) led the way, while Tyla Paraha sank nine in a strong effort.
In another thriller, Bendigo Braves got up on the road by just two points against a determined Dandenong Rangers side. With the Rangers having five players on the court with National Basketball League (NBL)1 experience, it was always going to be tough, but the Braves stood up to claim the win thanks to the team sharing the points around. Tess Barnes (15 points), Piper Dunlop (13) and Madeline Marks (11) all reached double figures, while for the Rangers, Emily Sewell was the only one to do so with 14, while Leia Hanafin was consistent with nine.
Nunawading Spectres flexed their muscles against Southern Peninsula Sharks on their way to a 32-point win at Dromana. Maddison Zugna (19 points) and Louisa Fakalata (15) were the key scorers in the win, while the Sharks had a couple of double-figure scorers themselves with Charli Dobson (14) and Keely Toohey (11) up against it. In the other big win, Hawthorn Magic knocked off Geelong Supercats by 19 points, with prominent shooter Ryleh Killian (20 points) leading the way, while Georgia Gray sank 10. For the Supercats, Alisha Knights (19 points) was the sole double-figure scorer, as Brunswick Sharp recorded seven on the night.
In the reserve grade, three games were decided by eight points or less, with McKinnon Cougars coming the closest to a win they had all season, going down to Frankston Blues by five points, while Dandenong Rangers 2 got up over Melbourne Tigers by eight, and Pakenham Warriors and Nunawading Spectres 2 played out a 70-all draw. In the other games, Broadmeadows Broncos proved too good for Warrandyte Venom in an 18-point victory, while Kilsyth Cobras had no issues dismissing Keilor Thunder, 55-35.
In the Championship Division next week, unlucky Round 1 losers, Diamond Valley and Dandenong go head-to-head, while Bulleen and Bendigo clash in what is set to be a beauty. In other games, Knox travels to take on Southern Peninsula, Altona hosts Hawthorn and Nunawading welcomes Geelong.