DIAMOND Valley Eagles have shaken up the run to the finals with a crucial upset over previously top-of-the-table Knox Raiders in the Melbourne United Victorian Junior Basketball League (MUVJBL) Under-18 Girls Championship Division competition, allowing Bulleen Boomers to pounce on top spot. The result also meant Diamond Valley moved into eighth spot, and sit just one point behind seventh placed Hawthorn Magic when talking Championship Division finals.
The thrilling 55-51 upset victory was the story of the weekend for Diamond Valley, having to come from behind at quarter time to run rampant in the middle two quarters and extend the lead out to nine points heading into the last break. Knox threw everything at the Eagles in the last term, but fell four points short in the end. Jade Dunne (13 points) and Abby Hildebrand (12) were the key scorers for the Eagles in the victory, while Georgia Baldwin (14) reached double figures for the Raiders.
Bulleen took advantage of Knox’s slip-up in the best way possible, not only winning its match, but completely outplaying the third placed Nunawading Spectres in the second half. The Boomers lead by six points at half-time but put the foot down after the main break, piling on 36 points to nine to run away with the 68-45 victory and claim top spot on the table with two rounds remaining. Casey Valenti-Paea continued her scoring spree with 21 points, while Erin Riley (19) and Antoinette Emma-Nnopu (11) were also important in the victory. Louisa Fakalata posted up 18 points in the losing side, aided by Tayha Watkins (10).
Dandenong Rangers put the clamps on Hawthorn Magic early to set up an important 58-40 victory and retain fourth spot in terms of Victorian Championship Division finals. The Rangers piled on 18 points to five in the first term and then withstood a Hawthorn fightback in the second quarter, before adding 29 points to 21 in the second half and enjoying an 18-point win. Leia Hanafin scored 13 points, while Felicity Hilford (11) and Hannah Rapp (10) both assisted with big games. Ryleh Killian put in a terrific effort on the scoreboard, finishing with 15 points in the loss.
Southern Peninsula Sharks moved a step closer to finals whilst pushing Bendigo Braves a step back thanks to an upset win on the road. The Sharks kept their finals hopes alive, restricting the Braves to just two points in the first term, and then winning three terms in total to run away with a more than handy 69-47 victory. Emirson Devenie (23 points) and Keely Toohey (17) were key for the Sharks, while Tess Barnes sank 18 in a hard-working effort for the home side.
Geelong kept its finals hopes alive with an important 15-point win over Altona Gators at home. The Supercats arguably could have won by more after racing to a 25-point lead at the final break, having restricted the Gators to 13 points in the first half, and 24 by the last change. Altona got back on top in the final quarter to score 16 points to four and cut the final score to 40-55, but it was too little, too late. Carly Remmos (16 points) and Alisha Knights (12) were both important in the victory as the National Basketball League (NBL)1 Women’s pair took control of the game. Monique Marcetic-Vaotangi was a shining light in Altona’s loss, reaching a team-high 10 points.
In the Reserve grade, Kilsyth Cobras and Keilor Thunder continued their impressive winning streaks, making it seven and six on the trot respectively against Frankston Blues and Broadmeadows Broncos. Pakenham Warriors gained extra separation on McKinnon Cougars courtesy of a 16-point road win, while Melbourne Tigers downed Warrandyte Venom by 19 points, and Dandenong’s second side defeated Nunawading’s second side by just three points.
In Round 8 of the Victorian Championship, Bulleen Boomers travel to Dandenong Rangers in what could be the game of the round and massive for top four calculations, while the reformed Geelong Supercats have a tough ask up against a Knox Raiders side ready to bounce back from a rare loss. In other games, Altona Gators hopes to cause an upset against Nunawading Spectres, while finals places are on the line between mid-table sides, Bendigo Braves and Diamond Valley Eagles, and Hawthorn Magic and Southern Peninsula Sharks.