THE Knox Raiders gained valuable separation on the Melbourne United Victorian League (MUVJBL) Under 18 Girls Championship Division table following their 35-45 win over the Hawthorn Magic on the road. The loss added serious pressure for Hawthorn’s next match, with multiple teams building fast on the table. The Raiders soared two wins ahead of their main competitors, Bulleen Boomers (second) and Nunawading Spectres (third), and four wins away from the remaining top-eight. Despite the low scores, Georgia Baldwin managed to crack double-figures with 11 points in the win. While not serious numbers, Georgia Robinson and Meg Robinson also impressed with seven and six points respectively. Hawthorn’s Casey Dunstan recorded a game-high 12 points in the loss, while her teammates, Henrietta Donoghue (seven) and Bridget Patel (six) worked hard on the floor.
Friday’s win marks 10 in a row for the Nunawading Spectres as they toppled the Bendigo Braves on the road by 13 points (73-60). The Braves pick up back-to-back losses – still reeling from their forfeit issued before the bye. The Spectres climbed to third on the table, presenting as possibly the most in-form side since in recent weeks as they pressure for top-spot. Second best league scorer and NBL1 representative, Louisa Fakalata, put up a game-high 22 points, with Maddison Zugna (17) and Tayha Watkins (10) also damaging in the win. For the Braves, Tess Barnes had 18 points, moving a spot behind Fakalata in third. NBL1 representatives, Piper Dunlop and Olivia Noter, were similarly impressive on their way to 12 and 10 points respectively.
In the biggest upset of the round, the Altona Gators trumped the Bulleen Boomers in a 56-41 thriller, handing the Boomers their first loss on the road. The loss slows Bulleen’s chase on the Knox, who sit two wins ahead following the rounds results. The Spectres continue to pressure Bulleen’s top two chances, mounting an impressive run since Round 4, while the Gators now become a threat for the top-eight’s bottom end.
The bottom-of-the-table battle it out in a big clash, with the Diamond Valley Eagles coming out on top against the Southern Peninsula. The loss marks Peninsula’s fourth consecutive loss – remaining the only team in the VC without a win since the division split. For the Eagles, a win makes them a threat. With the top-eight’s bottom end tightening, the Eagles present a chance to crush a few final hopes. There was lots to like in this contest from both sides. The Eagles showed stars in Abby Hildebrand and Jade Dunne, dropping 15 and 14 points respectively. Dunne pushes to seventh on the table, while Charli Dobson holds in fourth with 10 points for the Peninsula. Gemma Simon and Emirson Devenie were also immense for the Peninsula, snaring 16 and 17 points respectively.
In the reserve grade, the McKinnon Cougars copped a 22-62 belting from Keilor Thunder, Nunawading Spectres finished close over Melbourne Tigers (48-43), while Pakenham Warriors also suffered a 87-56 loss against the Frankston Blues. Closing out the round, Broadmeadows Broncos lost 57-66 to the Dandenong Rangers and the Kilsyth Cobras hosted a rare Round 4 win at home over the Warrandyte Venom.
In the Championship Division for Round 5, Geelong Supercats face off against the Bendigo Braves at home, Nunawading Spectres hope to add to their streak against Diamond Valley Eagles and Southern Peninsula challenge a resurgent Altona Gators in front of their home crowd. The remaining two games will be Knox Raiders facing Dandenong Rangers at home and Bulleen Boomers hosting the Hawthorn Magic at Mullum Mullum.