Tag: caleb connick

MUVJBL U18 Boys VC review: Qualifying and Elimination Finals – Tsapatolis returns for Keilor

WEEK one of the Melbourne United Victorian Junior Basketball League (MUVJBL) Under-18 Boys Championship Division kicked off with the Kilsyth Cobras defeating Dandenong Rangers in the first qualifying final. In the match-up, the Cobras took a 39-27 lead into the main break after dropping a game-high 27 points in the opener. They followed with 22-15 and 17-11 terms in the second half, finishing 25-point victors. Kilsyth’s Lachlan Vandervorm led from the front with 19 points, followed next by Josh Duach on 16 and Ned Dillon on 10. Duach’s game moves him to eleventh spot for points per game (PPG). Harrison Bowater and Joshua Heywood were Dandenong’s most dominant utilities, controlling the floor to rack up 13 points each in the loss. Despite the result, Bowater remains one of the league’s most consistent shooters, moving to eighth spot for overall points.

The second qualifying final placed the Nunawading Spectres against Bulleen Boomers, which saw the Spectres walk away four-point victors. The 50-46 contest in Hawthorn was an undeniable thriller with countless momentum swings. The Spectres set the standard in the first at 20-8, leaving the Boomers to respond (3-15), tying the scores up at the main break (23-23). Despite keeping close, Nunawading led the remainder of the game. Dihan Wigget recorded a team-high 13 points, with Curtis Brecko following close on 11 and top-five scorer, James Roche, maintaining form with 10. For Bulleen, Owen Foxwellimpressed on both ends, amassing 12 points to move into the league’s top 10 for PPG, while Anthony Dell’Orso closes out in sixth with 10 points of his own.

The Melbourne Tigers earned their first win in the final series after eliminating the Diamond Valley Eagles with a 66-53 showing in Hawthorn. The Tigers’ efforts in the first half shut the contest down by the main break (38-25). Their lead extended three more points into three quarter-time, before easing off to concede the last. Jordan Adams backed up last week’s performance to lead his side with another 15 points. Patrick Twigg followed next with 14, while Lyzel Mataika and Joshua Giddey round out with 12 points each. Giddey’s efforts place him in twelfth for PPG in just his second game of the year. For Diamond Valley, Ethan Bateman led the game with 17 points – accompanied well by Matt Marasco with 10.

The last Elimination Final saw Keilor Thunder get the better of Bendigo Braves (81-62). Keilor started poor in the match-up, but built momentum in the second. For the remaining three terms Keilor recorded over 20 points in each quarter. Bendigo did well to maintain their efforts from the first, but failed on the defensive end, losing their opportunity for semi-finals. Paul Tsapatolis‘s return to Keilor could have revived their chances at finals. After missing five games in the regular season, Tsapatolis returned to drop a round-high 38 points – taking him to first for PPG (23.4). No other player recorded over 10 for Keilor, with Jeffrey Ofoedu following with eight. For Bendigo, Caleb Connick impressed with 19 points, but could not match Tsapatolis in offense – slipping from the top two. Isaac Murphy also played well, finishing his season with 14 points.

In the Reserve grade, the Casey Cavaliers record a 65-60 win over the Waverley Falcons, the Ballarat Rush defeat the Eltham Wildcats (63-46), the Collingwood All-Stars best the Hawthorn Magic (60-57), and the Knox Raiders win 67-48 over the Dandenong Rangers. The Championship Division kicks off the semi-finals next week with the Dandenong Rangers facing the Melbourne Tigers, and the Bulleen Boomers facing the Keilor Thunder for a spot against Kilsyth and Nunawading in the Preliminary Finals.

MUVJBL U18 Boys VC preview: Qualifying and Elimination Finals

THE Melbourne United Victorian Junior Basketball League (MUVJBL) Under-18 Boys Championship Division begins its first round of finals on Friday, which will see only six teams remain at the round’s end. All games will be played on neutral courts, with Nunawading and Bulleen along with Melbourne and Diamond Valley hosting games at Hawthorn in two of the more exciting match-ups of the round.

Kilsyth Cobras (1st, 13-2-3) vs. Dandenong Rangers (4th, 12-4-2)

In the first round of qualifying finals, the Dandenong Rangers face the Kilsyth Cobras in Knox. Despite Kilsyth’s dominant record, the neutral territory is likely to favour Dandenong, with most of Kilsyth’s success having come from home (8-1-0). With six wins to five on the road, Dandenong enter as unlikely favourites in this contest, but are yet to beat the league-leaders. In their past meetings, Kilsyth won in April (59-53), before both teams fell short in the proceeding months with a 64-64 draw. Kilsyth’s Josh Duach will be closely watched in this match-up, having averaged 13.3 points per game from nine outings. With Roosevelt Williams (11.4) and David Okwera (11.9) also firing for Kilsyth, the Cobras enter likely to match Dandenong’s offensive weapons. For Dandenong, Harrison Bowater (12.7) remains most damaging, followed next by Jyelin Moli (11.7). They also enter this match-up having had every player crack double-digits on the scoreboard last week against Korumburra, with Moli and Riley Simmons leading the way with 21 and 15 respectively.

Nunawading Spectres (2nd>, 14-4) vs Bulleen Boomers (4th, 12-4-2)

The second qualifying final follows soon after with the Nunawading Spectres and Bulleen Boomers going head-to-head in Hawthorn. With the league’s most dominant away record (9-1-0), plus having snared the most wins this season (14), this match seems like a lock for the Spectres. They also currently boast three consecutive wins, having defeated Kilsyth, Dandenong and Diamond Valley over the last month. Last week Bulleen suffered a frustrating 60-63 loss to Bendigo, but should proceed boldly having defeated Nunawading earlier in the year (53-54). The Spectres will look to James Roche , currently sitting third for PPG (19.7) and first for overall points (177). He will be accompanied by Curtis Brecko (11.8), who has also put together an impressive year. Anthony Dell’Orso will be Bulleen’s greatest utility, sitting two below Roche in fifth with an average of 16 points per game. Owen Foxwell has also impressed with 14.3 PPG, including 22 points in last week’s loss.

Melbourne Tigers (5th, 10-7-1) vs Diamond Valley Eagles (8th, 9-9)

The first elimination final pits the Melbourne Tigers against the Diamond Valley Eagles. In their last two match-ups, Diamond Valley got the better in the first (74-61) but lost in horrible fashion a month later (71-39). Currently the Eagles boast consecutive wins, while Melbourne’s last fortnight has been poor, facing a thrashing against Bulleen (41-70) before tying with bottom-enders, Werribee.

Despite their positioning, Melbourne still sit without a top-20 shooter. Ezrah Vaigafa (10.5), Jordan Adams (10.4) and Lyzel Mataika (10.2) have all combined well this season but could struggle against some of the league’s bigger threats. Similarly, Diamond Valley are also without a top-20 shooter. Ethan Bateman currently leads the way with 10.9 PPG, followed close by Matt Marasco on 8.5, but dropping 19 points in last week’s win over Keilor.

Bendigo Braves (6th, 9-8-1) vs Keilor Thunder (7th, 9-9)

The last elimination final pits Bendigo Braves against Keilor Thunder. Last week both teams faced three point margins, with Bendigo defeating Bulleen (60-63) and Keilor falling short to Diamond Valley (57-60). In their last meeting, Keilor snared a 12-point victory over the Braves – handing Bendigo a rare loss at home. With neutral territory for both, Bendigo’s poor away record (3-6-0) could be a talking point in the lead-up. League standout, Caleb Connick, has been the pillar of Bendigo’s offence all season. Currently, he boasts fourth spot for PPG with 19.4 and sits third for overall points (155) from eight outings. William Smythe has also been effective in recent weeks – recording 14 points close behind Connick (15) in last week’s win. For the Thunder, Tonga Matapule Otutaha (14) and Jeffrey Ofoedu (10) have been impressive and should be backed to win the duel with Connick – having both outscored him in their last meeting.

MUVJBL U18 Boys VC review: Round 9 – Nunawading wins final preview against Kilsyth

THE regular season for the Melbourne United Victorian Junior Basketball League (MUVJBL) Under-18 Boys Championship Division finishes with the Nunawading Spectres as 58-64 victors over league-leaders, Kilsyth Cobras. The win marks Nunawading’s third consecutive win in the lead up to finals, finishing second with a home final, second chance and a standout 9-1-0 record on the road. In the match-up, Spectres opened better with a 9-14 first term, before the Cobras tied the half with 18-13 in the second. Despite impressive performances from NBL1 guard, Roosevelt Williams (18), and David Okwera (15), Kilsyth’s efforts were not enough as they went on to record their first home-loss of the season. For Nunawading, James Roche lead the game with 20 points, followed next by Luke Spurling on 12. Across the league, Roche moves to third spot for points per game (PPG) on 19.7 and finishes first overall with 177.

A three-point victory over the Keilor Thunder sends the Diamond Valley Eagles into finals. On the road, the Eagles faced a must-win contest against the Thunder – impressing to record their second consecutive win. In the match-up, the Thunder owned the first half. After conceding a one-point deficit in the first term (10-11), Keilor responded by tripling their total, taking a 31-24 lead into the break. Though despite their response, Keilor gradually slipped from the top as Diamond Valley delivered five-point wins in both remaining terms. Matt Marasco responded well from his three points last week to lead the game with 19. Ryan Hoffman finished next best on seven points, while Keilor’s Tonga Matapule Otutaha landed plenty with 14. Nicholas Guida and Jeffrey Ofoedu also impressed for Keilor, topping off their season with 10 points each.

Bendigo Braves returned to the winner’s list this week after handing the Bulleen Boomers their first loss at home with a 63-60 victory. The Braves climbed to sixth spot following the result, while the Boomers held onto fourth with a second chance for finals. In the contest, Bendigo secured the second and fourth terms by a single point after conceding the first at 18-14. In the third term, the Braves assumed a two-point lead following a 13-18 effort, eventually extending to thee points before the final buzzer. Caleb Connick finishes the season in fourth for PPG (19.4) and second overall (155) from eight games after recording 15 points in the final match. William Smythe also impressed on 14, while Bulleen’ss Owen Foxwell dominated on the board with 22. Thomas Giannatos finished next best with 10.

The Melbourne Tigers capped off their season in fifth with a 68-68 tie against the Werribee Devils. Unfortunately for Werribee, the tie ruined their chances of returning to the eight, finishing the season in ninth. In the match-up, Melbourne took a 32-29 lead into the main break after tying 12-12 in the opening term. The Devils went on to chip away at Melbourne’ lead for the remaining two terms, finishing 14-16 and 22-23. On the scoreboard, Lyzel Mataika and Jordan Adams shone brightest for the Tigers, scoring 17 and 15 points respectively. For Werribee, Darrien Herbert moves to sixth place for PPG after dropping a game-high 19 points, Aaron Dolny impresses with 16, while Makur Jongkuch places one below Herbert with a 15-point performance.

The Dandenong Rangers earned a second chance in September after defeating Korumburra Wildcats 88-69 at home. The Rangers moved to third place following their victory with 12 wins, four losses and two draws, while the Wildcats remained outside the top eight, missing finals in tenth.

In the Reserve grade, the Ballarat Miners defeated the Geelong Supercats at home (68-44), the Hawthorn Magic won similarly against the Casey Cavaliers (83-61), and the Knox Raiders won comfortably over the Dandenong Rangers (79-66). The round continued with the Eltham Wildcats losing at home to the Collingwood All-Stars (51-55) and the Waverley Falcons defeating the Ringwood Hawks (69-59).

In the Championship Division next week, four teams face off in elimination finals with the Melbourne Tigers hosting the Diamond Valley Eagles, and the Bendigo Braves hosting the Keilor Thunder. The qualifying finals follow with the Kilsyth Cobras hosting the Dandenong Rangers, and the Nunawading Spectres hosting the Bulleen Boomers.

MUVJBL U18 Boys VC preview: Round 9

THE regular season reaches a close in the Melbourne United Victorian Junior Basketball League (MUVJBL) Under-18 Boys Championship Division with each side fighting for the best possible position in the lead up to finals.

Kilsyth Cobras (1st, 13-1-3) vs Nunawading Spectres (3rd, 13-4)

The finals preview between Kilsyth Cobras and Nunawading Spectres has a lot on the line for both sides. Kilsyth currently holds top spot, boasting a second chance and home final in the coming weeks. Nunawading has cemented their second-chance spot, sitting two wins ahead of Dandenong (fourth) in third. The Spectres will be determined to get up in this contest as they look to catch one of the two home-final spots still up for grabs. Though with their success on the road (8-1-0), a home final might not be the advantage they hope for. Comparatively, Kilsyth boast an unbeaten record in front of the home crowd, which, interestingly, will be tested against the competition’s best away record. Josh Duach will look to get up for the Cobras, having averaged 14.1 points per game (PPG) for the season. Similarly, league-scoring leader, James Roche, will be expected to maintain his dominant form for the Spectres.

Melbourne Tigers (6th, 10-7) vs Werribee Devils (13th, 8-9)

Sitting one spot out from the finals, the Werribee Devils will be looking to lift when they travel to MSAC to face the Melbourne Tigers on Friday. Over the last month Werribee’s record has been less than ideal, losing three of their last four games. Comparatively, the Tigers have won two of their last four, which includes a 29-point thrashing against Bulleen last week. Mathematically, a second-chance opportunity is still available for Melbourne as they sit just one win below the fourth-placed, Dandenong Rangers. Over the last fortnight, Jordan Adams and Patrick Twigg have been standouts for Melbourne. Adams’ ability was made known in their clash with Bulleen, scoring 18 points, while Twigg led with 12 in their win over Keilor. For Werribee, Darrien Herbert emerged last week with 15 points, while Makur Jongkuch dominated in their tight clash with Nunawading. Sitting sixth and seventh for PPG, big things will be expected for this pair.

Dandenong Rangers (4th,11-4-2) vs Korumburra Wildcats (14th, 7-10)

Dandenong will look to stay in touch with the top-four when they face the Korumburra Wildcats. Currently, the Wildcats sit at the bottom of the table but are still a chance to make finals if a few results fall their way. Dandenong sit ineligible for a top-two spot but continue to have their spot threatened with Melbourne just one win behind. Last week, they suffered a critical one-point loss to Nunawading, while Korumburra fell short against bottom-end rivals, Diamond Valley (73-65). In this week’s match-up, Harrison Bowater and Riley Simmons will be expected to fire for the Rangers, having averaged 12.5 and 10.9 PPG. The pair will be up against equal-best league scorer, Keith Robinson. Robinson dropped 28 points in Korumburra’s loss to Diamond Valley, moving his average to 20 PPG. Luis D’Angelo is also expected to fire for the Wildcats, sitting thirteenth with 13.1 PPG.

Keilor Thunder (10th, 9-8) vs Diamond Valley Eagles (12th, 8-9)

Diamond Valley Eagles head to Keilor Park this week where they hope to cement their finals spot with a win over the Thunder. Both teams recorded wins against bottom-end sides last week, with Keilor getting the better of Werribee and Diamond Valley defeating Korumburra. The stakes ramp up for both sides this week, with the threat of missing finals a reality for both. Jeffrey Ofoedu (17) and Tonga Matapule Otutaha (16) were big in Keilor’s win last week, while Paul Tsapatolis continues to lead in PPG (19.8) after dropping 22 points in Round 7. For Diamond Valley, Ethan Bateman has been standout with 11.5 PPG in 17th for league average. Ryan Hoffman and Joseph Brazier will also look to maintain form from last week, having drop 17 points each in their win over Korumburra.

Bulleen Boomers (2nd, 12-3-2) vs Bendigo Braves (11th, 8-8-1)

With the top-two still presenting for three teams, the Bulleen Boomers should look to cement their second spot with a comfortable win over the Bendigo Braves. The Boomers currently hold at two consecutive wins with one of the better percentages in the game. Over the last fortnight, they earned victories against Melbourne (41-70) and Korumburra (72-62), while Bendigo fell consecutively against two other top four sides in Dandenong (80-60) and Kilsyth (70-55). A loss for Bendigo may mean missing finals, with two teams below also on eight wins, and one below them on seven. Anthony Dell’Orso continues to be Bulleen’s greatest scoring threat, having recorded 18 points in last week’s clash to move to fifth across the league. Owen Foxwell also remains a threat with 13.4 PPG, while Bendigo’s equal-first league-scorer, Caleb Connick, looks to close out the league on top with 20 PPG.

MUVJBL U18 Boys VC review: Round 8 – Kilsyth locks up minor premiership

THIS week in the Melbourne United Victorian Junior Basketball League (MUVJBL) Under-18 Boys Championship Division, Nunawading Spectres drastically hurt the Dandenong Rangers’ chances of securing a home-final following their 70-69 victory. The Spectres added to their impressive away record (8-1-0) with their second win on the road in a fortnight. Despite Dandenong’s game-high 29 points in the final term, Nunawading refused to let them back in – recording a similarly impressive 23 points to close out the game. James Roche, Curtis Brecko and Dihan Wigget all impressed on the floor – recording 19, 16 and 10 points respectively. Roche moves to top spot for league scoring (157) and fourth for points per game (PPG) on 19.8, while Brecko moves to sixteenth with 11.8. Joshua Heywood came to play for the Rangers – recording a game-high 20 points alongside Jyelin Moli (16) and Zac Taylor (12) who assisted well on offense.

Kilsyth Cobras continued their hold at the top of the table following their 70-55 win over the Bendigo Braves. The Braves sit seventh after losing their second game in a fortnight, with only one round to go. On the other hand, the Cobras secured the minor premiership sitting three points clear of Bulleen and Nunawading unable to catch them with a point at least to come their way in the final round. In the contest, Kilsyth opened the first term strong at 21-7. Bendigo fought hard to close the second term’s margin to five (17-12) before tying (17-17) and winning (15-19) the remaining terms. Though it was not enough with James Duach and Eythan House dominating the floor with 14 points each for the game. Duach’s performance moves him to eleventh spot for PPG on 14.1. Similarly, William Smythe and Levi Geyer tied for Bendigo on 11 points each – impressing in the absence of Caleb Connick and Dyson Daniels.

Following their 70-41 thrashing over the Melbourne Tigers, the Bulleen Boomers moved to second on the table with one win to go. Given Melbourne’s fifth position, the margin comes at a shock, especially given their victory over the third placed Nunawading Spectres, only two rounds ago. The result marks Bulleen’s second win in a fortnight as they continue to vie for a home-final in the coming weeks. They opened strong in the contest – outscoring Melbourne 21-6 before conceding their only losing term (16-10) in the second. Bulleen went onto double Melbourne’s score in both remaining terms to walk home 29-point victors. Anthony Dell’Orso moves to fourth spot for PPG following his 18-point performance for Bulleen. Otto Mananov and Oscar Hyde followed next on 13 and 12 respectively, while Jordan Adams (18) led on the floor for Melbourne alongside Justin Bond (9).

In one of the tightest games of the round, Keilor Thunder earned a 58-55 victory over Werribee Devils. The win moved Keilor one win below fifth, while Werribee sliped outside of finals territory with one round remaining. The loss marks three consecutive for the Devils after losing similarly to Nunawading (57-63) in the round prior. In the match-up, Werribee owned the second-half – outscoring the home-side 22-28. Though despite their efforts, the Thunder opened significantly better – outscoring 36-25 to ease comfortably into the second-half and subsequent victory. Jeffrey Ofoedu led for Keilor with 17 points alongside Tonga Matapule Otutaha, who followed close with 16. For Werribee, Darrien Herbert was at usual best – recording 15 points alongside Kane Hynes’ 13. Hebert’s efforts move him to fifth for PPG from eight outings.

The Diamond Valley Eagles continued their push for finals following their 73-65 win over the Korumburra Wildcats. After losing to Kilsyth in the round prior, a win was absolutely necessary for Diamond Valley to continue competing for finals. In the contest, both teams opened well with Diamond Valley trailing 13-14 at the end of the first. The Wildcats bolstered their lead in the second with a 22-12 term – taking a 25-36 lead into the break. The Eagles responded perfectly in the second half to hit back-to-back 24-point terms – outscoring their visitors 48-29 to pick up an eight-point win. Ryan Hoffman and Joseph Brazier were impressive for the Eagles – scoring 17 points each. The Wildcats boasted top performances from league-leader, Keith Robinson, and Luis D’Angelo (13th) who scored 28 and 19 points respectively.

In the Reserve grade, the Ballarat Miners snared a 66-48 win over the Dandenong Rangers, the Knox Raiders fell 53-58 at home over the Casey Cavaliers, while the Eltham Wildcats proved dominant at home over the Ringwood Hawks (69-65). The round continued with the Collingwood All-Stars defeating the Geelong Supercats at home (50-38) and the Waverley Falcons coming up short against the Hawthorn Magic (56-72).

In the Championship Division for Round 9, the Dandenong Rangers host the Korumburra Wildcats, the Keilor Thunder face the Diamond Valley Eagles, and the Kilsyth Cobras host one of games of the round against the Nunawading Spectres. The round finishes with the Melbourne Tigers hosting the Werribee Devils, and the Bulleen Boomers hosting the Bendigo Braves.

MUVJBL U18 Boys VC preview: Round 8

A TOP three clash headlines Round 8 of the Melbourne United Victorian Junior Basketball League (MUVJBL) Under-18 Boys Championship Division with the bottom four sides battling for the last two spots in the eight.

Dandenong Rangers (3rd, 11-3-2) vs. Nunawading Spectres (2nd, 12-4)

The match of the round pits third placed Dandenong Rangers against second placed Nunawading Spectres in what could eventuate into a battle for a home final. The teams are on the same amount of points, with the Spectres having one extra win, but one extra loss as well compared to the Rangers’ two draws. The Rangers have only lost one game at home and the Spectres are seven from eight on the road, so it makes for an enticing contest. Harrison Bowater (13.1 points per game) and Riley Simmons (12.1) have been crucial for the Rangers this season and could form a damaging duo, while Nunawading’s James Roche (19.7) will be a danger to watch, as will his teammate Curtis Brecko (11.1). The winner all but takes second spot if they do not stumble in the final round before finals.

Kilsyth Cobras (1st, 12-1-3) vs. Bendigo Braves (10th, 8-7-1)

Top-of-the-table Kilsyth Cobras should not have any problems against Bendigo with an unbeaten run at home from seven games against a Braves outfit that is just two from seven on the road. The Braves are actually sixth on the table when it comes to Championship Division finals, but are still only three points clear of the division cellar dwellers in Korumburra. If they can cause an upset they are guaranteed finals, but a loss and the sides below them move a step closer, though they would need to lose both remaining matches to drop out. As for the Cobras, they could drop to third mathematically with two losses, but will likely secure the minor premiership this round with a superior percentage to all bar Dandenong. Josh Duach (14.1 points per game) and David Okwera (12.2) have been the key scorers, going up against overall division leading scorer Caleb Connick (20.0), who would love to see Dyson Daniels (15.0) return with the young star missing due to National Basketball League (NBL)1 and national representative commitments.

Diamond Valley Eagles (13th, 7-9) vs. Korumburra Wildcats (14th, 7-9)

The bottom two sides clash in what is effectively the last chance saloon for one of the sides to make finals. The loser will be out of the finals race, while the winner will leap frog the loser of the Keilor Thunder-Werribee Devils game and put themselves into the top eight sides. The Eagles are just three from seven at home, while the Wildcats are not any better on the road, with two from seven. What works in the Wildcats’ favour is the fact that the Eagles are yet to win since the post-grade split, dropping seven consecutive games after heading into the new grade as 7-2. Korumburra’s Keith Robinson has been a source of points, averaging 18.7 points per game, teaming well with Brodie Mabilia (12.6) and Luis D’Angelo (12.2), while Diamond Valley looks to Ethan Bateman who is leading the side with 12.1 per game.

Keilor Thunder (12th, 8-8) vs. Werribee Devils (11th, 8-8)

Sitting seventh and eighth in the division, it goes without saying a win in this game is crucial. The winner is set to play finals, while the loser will drop outside the top eight meaning their finals hopes will then rely on favourable results in the last round. Keilor has dropped its past five games and are just three from eight at home, while Werribee has not won for a few rounds now and sit with three wins from seven games on the road. Neither side has a great percentage, both well below the two teams chasing them, meaning a loss here would all but end finals chances. Paul Tsapatolis was a welcome return for Keilor in Round 7 averaging the second most points of any player with 19.8 points per game this season, while Werribee relies on two key shooters in Darrien Herbert and Makur Jongkuch who have the identical output of 15.0 points per game.

Melbourne Tigers (5th, 10-6) vs. Bulleen Boomers (4th, 11-3-2)

The other game set to create interest is the fourth and fifth clash at Melbourne Sports and Aquatic Centre (MSAC). A win for Melbourne will draw them within two points and give the Tigers hope they can snatch fourth spot with a win in the final round, but any other result assures the Boomers of a double chance. The Tigers are safe from Bendigo overtaking them unless they lose twice and the Braves win both remaining games. Melbourne has an even spread of scorers with Ezrah Vaigafa, Lyzel Mataika and Patrick Twigg combining for an average of 31 points per game. The Boomers have a number of high volume scorers with Anthony Dell’Orso (17.3 points per game), Owen Foxwell (14.1) and Nicholas Woodall (12.3) all key players.

MUVJBL U18 Boys VC review: Round 7 – Top 5 grab wins

THE top five teams were able to gain some separation from the bottom five sides in Round 7 of the Melbourne United Victorian Junior Basketball League (MUVJBL) Under-18 Boys competition with the dominant sides all getting wins over their lower ranked opponents three weeks out from finals. The bottom five teams are just one win apart from sixth to tenth, as three sides look to round out the top eight finals spots.

The closest game of the round was Nunawading Spectres’ six-point victory over Werribee Devils. The second placed Spectres maintained their top two ranking and extended their record on the road to eight wins from nine encounters. They led by just one point at the main break, but gained some separation in the second half, scoring 29 points to 24. James Roche was important with 24 points himself, while Luke Spurling (10) was a key contributor in the win. For the Devils, it was Makur Jongkuch who was everywhere sinking 27 points, while teammate Darrien Herbert managed 10 in the loss.

The top-of-the-table Kilsyth Cobras maintained their advantage with an eight-point win over Diamond Valley Eagles. They found themselves seven points down at the main break, but piled on 42 points to 27 in the second half to run over the top of the Eagles, 66-58. Roosevelt Williams stood out with 22 points, well aided by 16 from David Okwera, while Josh Duach (nine) was also impressive. For the Eagles, Ethan Bateman finished with 15 points, while Ryan Hoffman slotted 11.

Fifth placed Melbourne Tigers kept touch with the top four courtesy of an eight-point win over Keilor Thunder. The Tigers raced out to an 18-11 opening term advantage, but the Thunder reeled them in to trail by a point at half-time. The Tigers regained control in the second half to post 30 points to 23 in the 56-48 victory. Keilor’s Paul Tsapatolis sank 22 points to be the standout scorer despite the loss, while Tonga Matapule Otutaha was next best with 10. Melbourne shared its points around with Patrick Twigg (12 points), Tom Koppens (11), Ezrah Vaigafa (10) and Lyzel Mataika (nine) all having plenty of impact on the court.

Fourth placed Bulleen Boomers took control in the first half against Korumburra Wildcats to set up an impressive 10-point victory. The Boomers held a 16-point lead at the main break and extended that to 18 by the last chance. The Wildcats hit back in the final stanza but could not recover from the heavy deficit, going down 62-72. Anthony Dell’Orso sank 21 points for the Boomers, one of a trio of stars who went big as Owen Foxwell and Nicholas Woodall both delivered 15 points. For Korumburra, Keith Robinson scored 18 points, while Luis D’Angelo and Brodie Mabilia helped themselves to 13 apiece.

The biggest win of the round went to Dandenong Rangers who toppled Bendigo Braves by 20 points, The Rangers showed no mercy in the first half, racing away to 22 points and while it was much closer in the second half, the damage was done. Harrison Bowater scored a game-high 26 points, as Jyelin Moli (15), Riley Simmons (10) and Mason Perry (10) all reached double figures. Contrastingly, Caleb Connick was a lone scoring machine with 20 points for the Braves as the sole scorer to reach double figures in the loss.

In the Reserve grade, Ballarat Magic and Eltham Wildcats continued their dominance in the grade, picking up wins over Geelong Supercats and Waverley Falcons respectively to make it six and four wins on the trot. In other results, Hawthorn Magic defeated Geelong Supercats by 10 points, Collingwood All Stars downed Knox Raiders in a two-point thriller, while Dandenong Rangers 2 piled on more pain for Ringwood Hawks with 63-56, making it eight consecutive defeats for the Hawks.

Next week, Dandenong hosts Nunawading and Melbourne plays Bulleen in a couple of matches that will shape the order of the top eight, while Kilsyth will look to go further on top with a home match against Bendigo. In the other two games, finals hopes are on the line when Korumburra travels to Diamond Valley and Werribee meets Keilor.

MUVJBL U18 Boys VC preview: Round 7

WITH the regular season nearly reaching a close, Round 7 of the Melbourne United Victorian Junior Basketball League (MUVJBL) Under-18 Boys Championship Division hopes to be a percentage booster for a few of the top-eight. As the fixture stands, no two teams will face within the top eight this round – with seven positions or over separating each match-up. Bulleen’s contest with Korumburra will be an important contest for the home-side, with the Boomers recording consecutive ties over the last fortnight. Also, with back-to-back wins in the last two rounds, the Braves will look to make it three in a row against the Rangers as they attempt to crack into the eight.

Bulleen Boomers (4th, 10-3-2) vs Korumburra Wildcats (14th, 7-8)

After recording consecutive draws over the last fortnight, the Boomers look to hold their top-four spot this week as they face the Korumburra Wildcats at home. In their last two outings, the Boomers hosted Dandenong (56-56) and Kilsyth (63-63), who sit first and third. Despite the results, the Boomers remain undefeated at home, and should remain as such when the Wildcats visit. Despite impressive at the season’s open, the Wildcats have only won two of their six outings. They put Keilor away early last week with a 32-15 first half, riding home comfortably to a 65-50 win. This week they face a few of the league’s top scorers in Anthony Dell’Orso and Owen Foxwell – who average 16.7 and 14 points per game (PPG) in fifth and eleventh for league-average. Korumburra boast Keith Robinson in fourth spot, averaging 18.8 PPG from five outings – followed next by Brodie Mabilia on 12.5.

Dandenong Rangers (3rd, 10-3-2) vs Bendigo Braves (10th, 8-6-1)

With a top eight spot in jeopardy, Bendigo Braves need to take a big scalp in Dandenong Rangers this week if they hope to play finals. On the road, the Braves have been disappointing (2-4-0), and despite two consecutive wins on the board, are yet to prove they can handle travelling. Last week, the Rangers were the only winning team within the top-four, taking consecutive draws in the rounds prior. Werribee copped a belting in Dandenong’s return to form last week (49-93), with the Braves likely to suffer similarly with the top-two up for grabs. Riley Simmons and Zac Taylor continued their form last week with 13 and 20 points respectively. Currently, Simmons averages 12.2 PPG in 14th across the league, while Taylor follows in seventeenth with 11.8. The Braves have league-leader, Caleb Connick, at the helm – averaging 20 PPG with 20 points in last week’s win.

Kilsyth Cobras (1st, 11-1-3) vs Diamond Valley Eagles (13th, 7-8)

This week Kilsyth Cobras boast the easiest fixture as they come up against a struggling Diamond Valley Eagles at home. Since losing last week’s match-up to Bendigo, the Eagles hold at six consecutive losses in the Championship Division. Their record looks set to worsen when they face the undefeated Cobras at home this week. Last week, the Cobras recorded their first non-winning result in the new division after drawing 63-63 with the Boomers. With the competition pressing, an easy fixture is all they need to reassert their position. David Okwera emerged in Kilsyth’s clash last week with 17 points, as Josh Duach retained form with 12 of his own. Duach places sixth for average points (15), while Okwera makes his way to eighteenth with 11.4. For the Eagles, Ethan Bateman has been impressive – averaging 11.7 PPG in twelfth. Joseph Brazier impressed in their loss last week with a team-high 11 points.

Werribee Devils (11th, 8-7) vs Nunawading Spectres (2nd, 11-4)

The Werribee Devils face the Nunawading Spectres at home this week as the Spectres make a play for top-spot. After recording a rare 57-60 loss last week against the Melbourne Tigers, the Spectres will look to show off a dominant away record when they travel to Werribee. The Devils copped a flogging against a resurging Dandenong Rangers at home last week, and will not want to concede consecutive beltings. Last week, James Roche held strong for the Spectres with 16 points – followed next by Curtis Brecko with 11. The pair rank second and eleventh for average points and face strong competition in Darrien Herbert (4th) and Makur Jongkuch (8th). Herbert held strong in last week’s loss, recording 14 points – Jongkuch following on seven.

Keilor Thunder (12th, 8-7) vs Melbourne Tigers (5th, 9-6)

Despite the discrepancy in positions, only one win separates the Keilor Thunder and Melbourne Tigers. This week the Thunder host the Tigers, with a lot riding on both sides’ hopes for finals. The Thunder currently hold four consecutive losses on the board and have conceded 912 points to 850. Last week, the Wildcats defeated them 65-50, and the week prior they lost 81-50 against the Spectres. Comparatively, the Tigers are coming off an impressive win against the Spectres and remained more competitive than most in their loss to the Kilsyth Cobras (62-50). The Thunder missed their top three league scorer in Paul Tssapatolis (19 PPG) of late, but boasted solid performances from Aleksander Bandilovski (11) and Tonga Matapule Otutaha (11). Comparatively, Melbourne are still without a top 20 scorer. Though last week had impressive performances from both Patrick Twigg (14) and Lyzel Mataika (12).

MUVJBL U18 Boys VC review: Round 6 – The top-four tightens with another big draw

FOR the second week in a row in the Melbourne United Victorian Junior Basketball League (MUVJBL) Under-18 Boys Championship Division, the Bulleen Boomers have picked up a draw against a top-end side – finishing 63-63 at home against the Kilsyth Cobras. In the contest, both sides remained close throughout. Bulleen opened the first term 23-18 before letting Kilsyth back in touch in the second with a 17-18 term. The Cobras tied up the third term at 53-53, with both teams scoring 10 points each to continue the trend into the final buzzer. On the board, Bulleen had a lot to like. Anthony Dell’Orso led his team in scoring with a solid 18-point performance, taking him to fifth spot in the league for points per game (PPG). He was accompanied well by Thomas Giannatos and Isaiah Harvey who emerged with 15 and 12 points respectively. For the Cobras, David Okwera made himself known with 17 points, cracking into nineteenth spot in the top 20, while Josh Duach continues to hold strong in the top-10 (seventh) with a 12-point performance.

Dandenong Rangers rebounded in dominant fashion this round with a big 48-93 thrashing on the road against the Werribee Devils. After taking a 56-56 draw at home last round against Bulleen, Dandenong looked to set the record straight. They opened the first term 29-12 before following up with 22-16 to take a 23-point lead into the main break. Werribee remained competitive for the third term to keep the Rangers to 16-14, but they let off the accelerator in the final term as they Rangers surged home with 26-7 closer – winning by 44 points. Seven Dandenong players cracked into double-digits on the scoreboard, with Zac Taylor leading the way on 20 points – moving to seventeenth spot on the league scoring table. Riley Simmons (13), Joshua Heywood (12) and Harrison Bowater (11) were among others who impressed for the Rangers. For Werribee, Darrien Herbert led the way with 14 points, followed next by Kaelan Matejin with eight.

Nunawading Spectres missed their opportunity to snare top-spot after losing 57-60 to a resilient Melbourne Tigers at home. After losing to the Cobras in the round prior, the Tigers looked to rebound against their competition as they push closer to the top four. Despite losing the second-half, their dominant work in the first two terms set them up perfectly for victory – taking a 35-28 lead into the main break. The result, along with the Bulleen and Kilsyth tie, has made the top-four and top-two available for a lot more teams as we pass the halfway mark of the season. Patrick Twigg led scoring for the Tigers with 14 points, while Lyzel Mataika followed close with 12. Despite the result, Nunawading boasted a solid performance from James Roche – scoring 16 points to retain second spot for league scoring. He was accompanied well by Curtis Brecko who had 11 to move to fifteenth.

A major streak continued as the Diamond Valley Eagles suffered their sixth consecutive loss against the Bendigo Braves (52-45) on the road. Despite keeping close for most terms – with only three points separating them at the main break (16-19), the Braves’ work in the third shut the Eagles out with 20 points to nine to effectively win them the game. League-leader, Caleb Connick, was immense in the match-up with 20 points, alongside Ethan Cunningham (eight), Jordan Michel (seven) and Isaac Murphy (seven), who all combined well on the floor. The Eagles had Joseph Brazier hold strong in the loss with a team-high 11 points. Ethan Bateman followed next with 10 points to move to eighteenth spot for league-scoring.

Korumburra Wildcats also kept one of the division’s less-glamourous streaks alive after handing the Keilor Thunder their fourth consecutive loss (65-50). Despite sitting two positions below Keilor in fourteenth, the Wildcats held the game from the very beginning. They scored 17-6 in first term and 15-9 in the second – taking a 32-15 lead into the second half. The Thunder won the next two terms by a point each but the Wildcats closed out the game with ease. Brodie Mabilia was dominant on the floor with 17 points, moving to 13th spot for league-scoring. NBL1 representative, Patrick Ryan (14) and Luis D’Angelo (13) were also impressive – standing up in the absence of top-scorer, Keith Robinson. For Keilor, Aleksander Bandilovski and Tonga Matapule Otutaha held up strong with 11 points each.

In the Reserve grade, the Casey Cavaliers took a 52-41 win over Collingwood All-Stars, Ringwood Hawks copped a 56-80 belting at home against the Ballarat Rush, and Knox Raiders picked up a big 66-77 win on the road against Hawthorn Magic. The round continued with Geelong Supercats losing 64-71 to Eltham Wildcats and Dandenong Rangers losing to Waverley Falcons (52-69).

In the Championship Division for Round 7, Dandenong Rangers hosted the Bendigo Braves, Keilor Thunder face an in-form Melbourne Tigers, and Kilsyth Cobras look to re-join the winners’ list against the Melbourne Tigers. We finish the round with Bulleen Boomers hosting Korumburra Wildcats and the Werribee Devils hosting the Nunawading Spectres.

MUVJBL U18 Boys VC preview: Round 6

ROUND 6 of the Melbourne United Victorian Junior Basketball League (MUVJBL) Under-18 Boys Championship Division kicks off on Friday night across Victoria with a few contests likely to go either way. As the Werribee Devils continue to build off the break, they look to make it three in a row when they face the Dandenong Rangers at home. The Nunawading Spectres also boast a similar affair against the Melbourne Tigers, with the match of round looking to be between the Bulleen Boomers and Kilsyth Cobras in a grapple for top spot.

Bulleen Boomers (3rd, 10-3-1) vs Kilsyth Cobras (1st, 11-1-2)

In recent weeks, the Kilsyth Cobras have been tested. Before returning to the winner’s list last week following their victory over the Melbourne Tigers, the Cobras copped their second draw against a formidable, Dandenong Rangers. This week the Cobras face another top four side in the Bulleen Boomers, who have also suffered a draw against the Rangers in recent weeks. Prior to last round, Bulleen enjoyed four consecutive wins in the Championship Division – taking notable victories from Nunawading and Keilor. With Anthony Dell’Orso and Owen Foxwell averaging 16.4 and 14.4 points per game (PPG) respectively; in fifth and eleventh for league scoring from five outings, the Cobras could struggle to match. Josh Duach (15.6 PPG) has been in top form for Kilsyth over the recent months but lacks a consistent partnership similar to Bulleen. Regardless, David Okwera (10) and Roosevelt Williams (nine) continue to be huge assets for the Cobras, with Okwera dropping a game-high 25 points in last week’s win over Melbourne. If Okwera can get up again, it will be interesting to see which duo prevails.

Nunawading Spectres (2nd, 11-3) vs Melbourne Tigers (5th, 8-6)

With the Nunawading Spectres on the climb, the Melbourne Tigers face a serious challenge this Friday as they hope to get back a win on the road. Last week the Tigers fell to a rebounding Kilsyth, dropping them into dangerous territory on the table (fifth) with three teams equaling their current record. Prior to their loss, the Tigers looked to be building, earning a 32-point win over Diamond Valley before returning from the break to defeat Bendigo at home. Currently, they sit a 2-3 in the Championship Division, compared to Nunawading’s 4-1. Though like Melbourne, the Spectres are yet to knock-off a major contender, losing their biggest match-up this year against the Boomers. This game will be a test for both sides, who have been fortunate not to contend with many top-five teams since the division separated. All eyes should be on James Roche as he pushes for the number one spot for league scoring. Currently, he averages 19.6 PPG from five games, assisted well by Curtis Brecko (12.2) who also sits in the top 20. Melbourne’s, Ezrah Vaigafa rounds out 20th spot in the league, averaging 11 PPG in front of Jordan Adams (10.6) and Lyzel Mataika (10.4) who hold 21st and 22nd respectively.

Werribee Devils (7th, 8-6) vs Dandenong Rangers (4th, 9-3-2)

Making the long trip to Werribee for Friday’s clash, the Dandenong Rangers hope to end their two-game draw streak against an in-form Devils outfit. After facing Bulleen and Kilsyth in recent weeks, the Rangers should revel to face an opponent outside the top-four. The Devils have managed consecutive five-point victories in the last fortnight but have not fared as well against top-end sides such as Bulleen (70-58) and Kilsyth (45-71). With that in mind, the Rangers should put their weak fortnight behind them with a win on the road. So far, Riley Simmons leads scoring for the Rangers with a 12-point average from five appearances. He’s followed close by Harrison Bowater with 11PPG – rounding out the top 20 in nineteenth. For the Devils, Darrien Herbert has been immense with his 16.2-point average placing him in sixth overall for the league. Makur Jongkuch has accompanied him well with 14.2 – sitting 12th across the league. In this match-up, Werribee look a lot more dangerous on the board but lack Dandenong’s two-way game.

Bendigo Braves (13th, 7-6-1) vs Diamond Valley Eagles (11th, 7-7)

The Diamond Valley Eagles hope to finally join the winner’s list when they face the Bendigo Braves on the road this Friday. Since joining the Championship Division the Eagles have recorded five consecutive losses – despite joining the competition at 7-2. The Braves have so far collected 2-3 from their time in the new division, earning their second last week against Korumburra. Currently, the Braves hold a fair 5-2-1 record at home – impressive given their position on the table. The Braves also boast the top league scorer in Caleb Connick who averages 20PPG, and Dyson Daniels who has been in good form in ninth spot with 15 PPG. Comparatively, Diamond Valley only average one player in the top 20 with Ethan Bateman averaging 12 PPG in fourteenth spot, while Matt Marasco and Erik Kafritsas follow next with 8 and 7.8 points respectively.

Korumburra Wildcats (14th, 6-8) vs Keilor Thunder (8th, 8-6)

In one of the most interesting match-ups of the round, the Korumburra Wildcats and Keilor Thunder both risk suffering four consecutive losses when they face on Friday. In recent weeks, the Thunder have fell to three top four sides in Nunawading, Bulleen and Dandenong. Comparatively, Korumburra have suffered losses to Bendigo and Werribee after falling by 35 points in a loss to Kilsyth before the break. The Thunder sit only one win below fourth, while the Wildcats could press for the top eight in the coming rounds. Paul Tsapatolis has been in good form for the Thunder, sitting third for league scoring with 19 PPG. Unfortunately for Keilor, Daelon Ateru is Keilor’s next best scorer on eight. For the Wildcats, Keith Robinson leads scoring with 18.8 PPG, one spot behind Tsapatolis in fourth. Unlike Keilor, Robinson has great support with Luis D’Angelo and Brodie Mabilia averaging 11.8 and 11.6 PPG respectively.