THE Melbourne United Victorian Junior Basketball League (MUVJBL) Under 18 Girls Championship Division was decided two weeks ago, and now the 10 teams begin the second half of their journey with nine matches with the best of the best to determine the overall champion in a couple of months.
Dandenong Rangers (3rd in Ashe) vs. Bendigo Braves (2nd in Watson)
Another tough contest to predict, both the Dandenong Rangers and Bendigo Braves finished on six wins from nine games. The Rangers were in the stronger pool with Knox and Bulleen seemingly the top two sides overall, and therefore the Rangers were just behind them. They were a little shaky at home with three wins from five games, while the Braves have not had kind results on the road, with all their three losses coming when at an opposition’s venue. The Braves are ranked second for points for, while Dandenong are ranked second for least points conceded meaning that it could be a battle of offence versus defence, and whether or not the Rangers stingy defence can nullify the Braves shooters.
Southern Peninsula Sharks (4th in Ashe) vs. Nunawading Spectres (4th in Watson)
Two sides that finished on highs to end the season were Southern Peninsula Sharks and Nunawading Spectres. The Sharks won their final three games and remained unbeaten at home, which is where they find themselves for this clash. Nunawading rode a tidal wave of momentum into the Championship Division, remarkably digging themselves out of an 0-3 start to win six consecutive games and slot into fourth – not without some nervous moments throughout the back-end of the season. The Spectres are fairly strong on the road with just one loss in four games, and rank third in points for overall, which makes them hard to stop. They might want to tighten up their defensive end however, with the Spectres conceding the most points of any of the 10 sides in the first half of the season.
Bulleen Boomers (2nd in Ashe) vs. Diamond Valley Eagles (5th in Ashe)
Last time: Bulleen Boomers 52 defeated Diamond Valley Eagles 44
In one of two match-ups for Round 1 that have already occurred this season, the second placed Bulleen Boomers take on fifth placed Diamond Valley Eagles in the Championship Division. Now sides are back even, the Boomers will be looking to build on the form they had since losing Round 1 of the season – piling on eight consecutive wins, including an eight-point victory over Diamond Valley. Sascha Korakis sank 14 points and Erin Riley managed 11, while for the Eagles, Keeley Evans was the standout shooter with 22. Coming off a title victory at the National Junior Classic, the Boomers will be keen to kick off the division reboot with a big win. At home once again like they were in the original match-up, the Boomers will be strong favourites.
Altona Gators (1st in Watson) vs. Knox Raiders (1st in Ashe)
In the match of the opening round, the two table-toppers from the first half of the season go head-to-head in what is set to be a beauty. Altona Gators dropped their last two matches, but with top spot and a Championship Division place locked away after seven straight wins, there is not too much to read into the defeats with other teams needing wins more. For Knox, they had no such lapse in concentration, going through the season undefeated with nine wins, including victory over one of the title favourites in Bulleen in Round 1. They ranked number one in points for and number three in least points conceded, so the Raiders will be tough to beat. Altona is known for it’s defensive work, ranked fourth in defence, but only ranked eighth in offence, meaning to win they will look to keep it low-scoring.
Geelong Supercats (5th in Warson) vs. Hawthorn Magic (3rd in Watson)
Last time: Hawthorn Magic 53 defeated Geelong Supercats 39
In the second of the two match-ups to have previously clashed, Hawthorn Magic will hope to make it two wins this season against a strong Geelong Supercats outfit. Despite the Supercats holding multiple players with National Basketball League (NBL)1 experience, it was the Magic who powered to a 53-39 win courtesy of 31-15 in the first and last quarters. Alycia Kennedy scored 15 points, as Ryleh Killian sank 14, while for the Supercats, Carly Remmos was the danger with 16. Now the game is held in Geelong, expect the game to be a cracker with the Supercats unbeaten at home, while the Magic’s road trips have been fairly successful with four wins from five games.