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MUVJBL U18 Girls VC preview: Preliminary finals

THE Under-18 Girls kick off the Preliminary finals this week in the Melbourne United Victorian Junior Basketball League (MUVJBL) Championship Division. Mullum Mullum is set to host the clash between the Knox Raiders and Nunawading Spectres, while the State Basketball Centre holds a must-win match between the Bulleen Boomers and Dandenong Rangers.

Knox Raiders (2nd, 13-4-1) vs Nunawading Spectres (4th, 12-6)

In the first preliminary final, the Knox Raiders come up against the Nunawading Spectres. Last week, the Spectres came out firing against Southern Peninsula to record a 70-48 win in Dandenong. It was two poor terms from their opponents that set Nunawading into the preliminaries – recording a 22-11 second term with 17-7 in the fourth. The week prior, the Raiders pulled of a tight 54-51 victory over the Rangers in Sandringham. NBL1 representative, Charlise Dunn, dominated in the Raiders’ last game with 19 points. The forward has averaged 12.6 points per game (PPG) this season in twelfth, while Georgia Baldwin follows close with 9.6 PPG in ninth. For the Spectres, Louisa Fakalata remains one of the league’s most damaging scorers with 17.2 PPG from 10 outings. In her last clash, she recorded 13 points with Lucy Wales and Maddison Zugna scoring 14 and 12 points respectively.

Bulleen Boomers (1st, 15-3) vs Dandenong Rangers (3rd, 12-6)

The Bulleen Boomers and Dandenong Rangers will compete for the last spot in the Grand Final at State Basketball Centre. Last week, Dandenong put up a comprehensive display over the Bendigo Braves (87-53) in Broadmeadows. The Rangers’ win came off the back of three consecutive terms over 20 points, while Bulleen enjoyed a week off following their 53-46 win over Nunawading. For Bulleen, Alexandra Keating currently leads the league in PPG (18.1), dropping 21 points in last fortnight’s clash. Casey Valenti-Paea has also put up impressive numbers with 14.1 PPG, sitting in seventh position from eight outings. The Rangers will rely heavily on Elly Morgan to deliver on last week’s efforts (22). In their decisive victory over Bendigo, Dandenong boasted four players in double-digits, with Leia Hanafin (18), Leah Mackenzie (14) and Hannah Rapp (10) all putting up impressive numbers.

MUVJBL U18 Girls VC preview: Qualifying and Elimination Finals

THE Qualifying and Elimination finals kick off this week in the Melbourne United Victorian Junior Basketball League Under-18 Girls Championship Division. Six of the eight teams will proceed at the round’s end, with Bendigo, Diamond Valley, Altona and Southern Peninsula all facing off in the first leg of elimination finals.

Bulleen Boomers (1st, 15-3) vs Nunawading Spectres (4th, 12-6)

Bulleen Boomers will look to hold their dominance into the finals as they face the Nunawading Spectres in Hawthorn. In their last match-up, Bulleen got the better on the road. Unsurprisingly, Bulleen’s away record remains without blemish (8-0), while Nunawading hold at 6-3 on both ends. At neutral territory, the Boomers seem a lock, having paved their way to five consecutive wins, while Nunawading lost three in a row in the lead-up. Besides advancing to finals, this game presents a lot in the way of match-ups. Bulleen’s second-placed shooter, Alexandra Keating will face Nunawading’s top-league scorer, Louisa Fakalata. Keating currently sits at 17.7 points per game (PPG) with 124 points overall. She’s been well accompanied by Casey Valenti-Paea who follows close with 14.4 PPG. For Nunawading, Fakalata tops the table with 18.6 PPG and 149 points overall, with Maddison Zugna trailing inside the top-20 on 10.7. In their last match-up, Fakalata scored 18, while Keating was absent.

Knox Raiders (2nd, 13-4-1) vs Dandenong Rangers (3rd, 12-6)

In the second qualifying final, the Knox Raiders travel to Batesford Reserve to face the Dandenong Rangers. Without a loss on their away record, Knox enter the neutral territory as favourites. Though comparatively, Dandenong’s last five have been a lot better – winning four compared to one. In their last match-up Dandenong proved better again, but conceded a loss in March at the height of the Raiders’ form. Charlise Dunn continues to be solid for the Raiders averaging 11 PPG from four outings, Georgia Baldwin follows close with 10.1. In last week’s loss, Meg Robinson led the way with 11 points, and sat the only player to crack double-digits. For Dandenong, Hannah Rapp (nine) and Emily Sewell (12.5) have starred. In last week’s win, Leah Mackenzie controlled the floor with 16 points, and will be expected to repeat this week.

Altona Gators (5th, 11-6-1) vs Southern Peninsula (8th, 9-9)

The elimination finals also tip off tonight when the Altona Gators face the Southern Peninsula Sharks in Sandringham. The Gators will be desperate to regain some form with a long road ahead, while the Sharks boasting one of the better months in the league. Of their last four, the Gators have picked up three wins to claw their way back into finals. Comparatively, the Gators have beaten Nunawading and conceded defeat to Geelong, so inconsistency is likely to cost them. Kayla Salmons has been impressive for Altona this season averaging 12.3 PPG, along with Monique Marcetic-Vaotangi (8.6). Last week, Marcetic-Vaotangi led on the board with 10, followed next by Salmons’ seven. For Southern Peninsula Emirson Devenie has dominated, sitting third in the league for PPG (16.7), while Charli Dobson follows with 14.6. In their win last week, Devenie led the way with 26, followed close by Dobson on 22.

Bendigo Braves (6th, 11-7) vs Diamond Valley Eagles (7th, 9-8-1)

The second elimination final pits the Bendigo Braves against the Diamond Valley Eagles for the second time in a month. Bendigo has managed consecutive wins over the past fortnight, defeating Altona Gators and Diamond Valley Eagles. Comparatively, the Eagles rebounded from their thrashing against Bendigo to defeat the Hawthorn Magic. On neutral territory, neither side looks to have the advantage but history declares Bendigo winner. Piper Dunlop and Tess Barnes have been immense for the Braves this season, averaging 14.7 and 14.4 PPG respectively. The pair boast fifth and eighth spots in the league for PPG from seven outings each. For Diamond Valley, Jade Dunne stands as the greatest weapon, averaging 14.4 PPG. In last week’s win, she recorded 19 points, while Keeley Evans also impressed with 15.

MUVJBL U18 Girls VC review: Round 9 – Bulleen wins top two clash

ROUND 9 of the Melbourne United Victorian Junior Basketball League (MUVJBL) Under-18 Girls Championship Division closed out the regular season with a finals preview between the Knox Raiders and Bulleen Boomers. The Boomers got the better in the contest with a 54-43 victory over the home side, remaining two wins ahead of their second-placed competitors in first. In the contest, the Boomers earned two seven-point wins in the first and last term, Knox tied 18-18 in the second before winning 11-8 in the third term. Alexandra Keating showed why she is one of the league’s best, recording 22 points in the win. Keating’s efforts move her to second in points per game (PPG), while Antoniette Emma-Nnopu also impressed with 12 points. For Knox, Meg Robinson was the only player to hit double-digits with 11 points, while Georgia Baldwin finished next on nine.

The next final preview pitted Dandenong Rangers against Nunawading Spectres. The Rangers earned a 53-48 victory over the Spectres, taking them to third spot, while the Spectres lost their third in a row. The Spectres boasted real scoring capacity in the first half, taking a 32-23 lead into the main break. Their third term lost them the game after only recording three points to the opposition’s 12. The Rangers went on to score 18-13 to close out the game, taking the game and the better position into finals. Leah Mackenzie led scoring for the Rangers with 16 points, followed next by NBL1 representative, Hannah Rapp, on nine. The Spectres also boasted considerable performances by Louisa Fakalata (15) and Tayha Watkins (11). Fakalata finishes the league in the highest spot for PPG (18.6) and second for overall scoring, down one point at 149, with one less game.

The Diamond Valley Eagles ended the Hawthorn Magic’s final chances with a 51-63 victory on the road. After snatching the last spot in the Championship Division in the final game pre-split, Hawthorn was unable to do it again this time post-split, missing out on finals. In the contest, the Magic opened both halves below par, conceding 8-15 in the first and 10-21 in the third. Though they managed to tie in the second (18-18) and win in the last (15-9), their efforts were not enough to get them over the line due to the two disappointing quarters. Jade Dunne managed 19 points for Diamond Valley, alongside NBL1 representative, Keeley Evans, who had 15. For Hawthorn, Ryleh Killian had 19 points while Alycia Kennedy finished next on seven points.

Southern Peninsula Sharks broke their way into the finals with a 81-77 victory over the Geelong Supercats, finishing the regular season in eighth place with their third consecutive win. Despite an impressive 44-33 second half, Peninsula’s 33-48 first half was too much for Geelong to come back from closing out the game by four points. Emirson Devenie and Charli Dobson had top performances for the Peninsula, recording 26 and 22 points respectively. Keeley Toohey also scored 16 points for the Peninsula, while NBL representative, Carly Remmos led the Supercats with 21 points. Alishia Knights also impressed on 17, followed next by Jasmine Whatley on 12.

The Altona Gators missed their chance for a top four spot after losing 51-46 to the Bendigo Braves. Bendigo moved to sixth with their second consecutive win, while Altona held onto fifth.

In the Reserve grade, the Frankston Blues lost 66-72 against Dandenong Rangers, McKinnon Cougars defeated Broadmeadows Broncos (41-66), and Keilor Thunder won 56-48 over Warrandyte Venom. The round ended with the Nunawading Spectres winning 57-51 over Kilsyth Cobras, and Pakenham Warriors winning 52-47 over Melbourne Tigers.

In the Championship Division, the finals kick off with the Altona Gators hosting the Southern Peninsula Sharks and the Bendigo Braves facing the Diamond Valley Eagles in the elimination finals. The qualifying finals kick off soon after with the Bulleen Boomers hosting the Nunawading Spectres and the Knox Raiders facing the Dandenong Rangers.

MUVJBL U18 Girls VC preview: Round 8

THE penultimate round of the Melbourne United Victorian Junior Basketball League (MUVJBL) Under-18 Girls Victorian Championship Division gets underway tomorrow night with some teams’ last chance for finals, while others hope to secure home finals with important wins.

Geelong Supercats (13th, 7-9) vs. Knox Raiders (2nd, 13-3)

Geelong Supercats are relying on an upset win against title contender Knox Raiders, and a victory in the final round to have any hope of making finals. They sit second bottom of the Championship Division teams, but do hold a strong record of five wins from seven matches at home. Their opponents are unbeaten on the road though, which means this match will be as tough as it gets for the home team. With the Raiders facing top-of-the-table Bulleen Boomers in the final round, this is a must-win to keep in contention for top spot. Charlise Dunn averages 11.0 points per game as the top Raiders shooter in what has been an even team season along with Georgia Baldwin (10.4). For Geelong, Carly Remmos and Alisha Knights have both averaged 12.4 points per game in the Championship Division.

Bendigo Braves (8th. 9-7) vs. Diamond Valley Eagles (10th, 8-7-1)

A win for the visitors in the Bendigo-Diamond Valley clash will secure the Eagles a finals spot, and potentially move them clear of a couple of opponents to even position themselves for a home elimination final. They are just two wins from seven matches away though, while the Braves have won five from seven at home. They win and they are able to keep touch with Altona Gators just above them, and will be keen to also secure a home elimination final. Piper Dunlop (14.3 points per game) and Tess Barnes (13.5) are players to watch from the home side, while Jade Dunne (13.7) has been a standout shooter for Diamond Valley this season.

Altona Gators (7th, 10-5-1) vs. Nunawading Spectres (3rd, 12-4)

In another crucial clash for these sides, Altona Gators must win to ensure they grab a home final, but more importantly put themselves in pole position for a double chance. The Spectres might have a double chance locked up barring a complete disaster run – two losses and Altona and Dandenong both overtake them, but will be keen to take advantage of a top two clash in the final round to potentially grab a home qualifying final. The Gators are four wins and a draw from seven games at home, while the Spectres have not done too much wrong on the road with just the one loss from seven games, and losing its first game last week in a number of months. Louisa Fakalata has been a scoring machine, averaging 19.2 points per game and the top points scorer in the competition, while Maddison Zugna (12.4) has also been impressive this season. For Altona, Kayla Salmons has been a shining light, contributing 11.8 points per game.

Hawthorn Magic (9th, 8-6-2) vs. Southern Peninsula Sharks (14th, 7-9)

The lowest ranked side in the Championship Division, Southern Peninsula Sharks are coming off a win last round by 22 points over Bendigo Braves and will be keen to make it two on the trot to give themselves any chance of finals. They need to win both games and Diamond Valley and Geelong Falcons to lose both in order to lock up a finals spot. For the Magic, they need to win to maintain their spot in the top eight with Diamond Valley chasing their spot, along with the bottom two sides trying to force their way into the top eight. The Magic is three wins and a draw from seven games, while the Sharks have won three from seven on the road making this head-to-head tough to predict. Ryleh Killian has been a super player in the grade, sinking an average of 15.0 points per game, while for the Sharks, Charli Dobson and Emirson Devenie have both notched up 14.1 points per game.

Dandenong Rangers (5th, 11-5) vs. Bulleen Boomers (1st, 13-3)

In a game which could mirror a qualifying final in a fortnight, the top-of-the-table Boomers travel to Dandenong to face the fourth placed – in the Championship Division – Rangers. Dandenong has won five on the trot and is in fine form with five wins from eight games, while the Boomers have won the past three with an undefeated run when travelling from six matches. Alexandra Keating averages the most points of any player in the competition, with the Boomers shooter putting up 19.4 points per game, teaming well with Casey Valenti-Paea (14.5) and Erin Riley (10.3). The Rangers have also shared it around, with Emily Sewell (14.0), Elly Morgan (10.1) and Leia Hanafin (10.0) all showing they have the capability to put good numbers up when in the side.

MUVJBL U18 Girls VC review: Round 7 – Eagles cause upset as Boomers pounce on top spot

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.

MUVJBL U18 Girls VC preview: Round 7

THE Melbourne United Victorian Junior Basketball League (MUVJBL) Under-18 Girls Championship Division nears finals as we enter Round 7, with seemingly one spot remaining in the top four. Four teams continue to battle out for a second chance – all equal with 10 wins from fourth to seventh. This week’s game of the round will likely be between Nunawading Spectres and Bulleen Boomers, with the winner taking second place and putting themselves in the box seat for a much-desired home final. The match-up between Hawthorn and Dandenong also presents to be a good one, as the home side vies for a top eight spot.

Nunawading Spectres (3rd, 12-3) vs Bulleen Boomers (2nd, 12-3)

The third placed Nunawading Spectres host their top-end rivals, Bulleen Boomers, in a game that may seal their second-chance home final. Last week, the Spectres grabbed their twelfth consecutive win of the season, knocking off the Hawthorn Magic 61-38 at home. It was an unusual game, with the in-form side only scoring 11 points for the first half. They resurged following the break and went onto score 34 points in the fourth term to close out the curious affair. The Boomers boast two comfortable wins in the last fortnight – beating Hawthorn (59-50) and Geelong (50-41) at home. Though given their position, we expect higher margins against teams outside the eight, but it seems the Boomers have scraped a couple together in the last fortnight. This week, the league’s two best scorers go head to head. Nunawading’s Louis Fakalata has been in top form across her five outings, averaging 19.4 points per game (PPG) in equal-first with Bulleen’s Alexandra Keating. Maddison Zugna continues to be great support for Fakalata, having averaged 13 PPG from six outings, while Keating shares the load well with Casey Valenti-Paea (13.2).

Hawthorn Magic (9th, 8-5-2) vs Dandenong Rangers (5th, 10-5)

Hawthorn Magic host Dandenong Rangers this week in a game that may settle their finals future. Since returning from the break, the Magic have been in poor form – recording three consecutive losses, including a big 61-38 defeat against the Nunawading Spectres. Comparatively, the Rangers sit as one of the league’s most in-form side. Last week, they recorded one their biggest wins of the season after beating the Southern Peninsula by 42 points. The week prior, the Rangers knocked off league-leaders, Knox Raiders (48-52), on the road to make a big case for the top-four. Ryleh Killian stepped up for the Magic in last week’s loss – recording 12 points alongside Casey Dunstan’s 10. The pair will be expected to deliver big in this match-up – especially with NBL1 representative, Elly Morgan, and Leah Mackenzie recording big last week. Morgan shot 19 in the win to move seventeenth for league scoring average, while Hawthorn’s Killian holds strong in fifth.

Knox Raiders (1st, 13-2) vs Diamond Valley Eagles (12th, 7-7-1)

Knox Raiders will look to record an easy win this week against the bottom-end Diamond Valley Eagles, in a game that might secure their number one spot. Last fortnight, the Raiders recorded their second loss in the Championship Division – losing to Dandenong after conceding to Nunawading earlier in the season. Despite sitting atop the table, the Raiders are yet to record a big win in the new division. Since the break, the Eagles have recorded consecutive losses. They fell victim to the Nunawading streak last fortnight and copped a fair knock against the Gators in Round 6. Despite sitting low, Diamond Valley still sit in the finals race, but will need a perfect run home. NBL1 representative, Charlise Dunn, led with 17 points in last week’s clash Bendigo. Currently, she boasts eighth spot across the league – followed next by Georgia Baldwin (9.8 PPG) in eighteenth. For Diamond Valley, Jade Dunne (16) and Georgia Kitchell (12) held up against Altona. Dunne boasts seventh spot in the league following her efforts.

Geelong Supercats (13th, 6-9) vs Altona Gators (6th, 10-4-1)

Altona Gators travel to Geelong this week where they face the Supercats for a chance to snare a spot in the top-four. The Gators added their third consecutive win last week against the Diamond Valley Eagles (51-67) as they continue to show their dominance on the road (6-2-0). In theme of three streaks, the Supercats add their third consecutive loss after falling to Bulleen (50-41) on the road. As it stands, the Supercats will not play finals. They have been one of the more competitive sides in the Championship Division but have not shown enough just yet. Alishia Knights and Carly Remmos will be Altona’s biggest issue, with the pair averaging 12.5 and 11.8 PPG respectively. The Gators will rely heavily on Kayla Salmons (12.8) and Trinity Steele (9.4) to deliver once again. Last week, Salmons stepped up with 22 points, while Tyla Paraha followed close on 17.

Bendigo Braves (8th, 9-6) vs Southern Peninsula (14th, 6-9)

Even though Southern Peninsula are without a win in the Championship Division, Bendigo can never be too cautious when they are in the lower regions of the finals race. Last week, the Braves lost to the Raiders on the road – winning one of their last four outings. As with Peninsula, the Braves have been unsuccessful in the new division and could be the team to miss out on finals. The highlight of Peninsula’s season would be their near win against the Raiders in Round 2 (77-79). Though since then, have dropped off dramatically. Piper Dunlop has been in form for the Braves since beginning the new division, recording 15.8 PPG in third across the league. Tess Barnes has been a similar commodity in thirteenth with 12.6 PPG. With one spot between their opposition, Charli Dobson sits in fourth with 15.2 PPG for Peninsula – followed by Emirson Devenie in twelfth with 12.7

MUVJBL U18 Girls VC preview: Round 6

THIS week in the Melbourne United Victorian Junior Basketball League (MUVJBL) Under-18 Girls Championship Division, only two teams within the top eight face off. Knox Raiders host Bendigo Braves in what will likely be the match of the round, while the match-up between Nunawading Spectres and Hawthorn Magic also looks set to impress.

Knox Raiders (1st, 12-2) vs Bendigo Braves (6th, 9-5)

After suffering a rare loss to the Dandenong Rangers in Round 5, the Knox Raiders face a similarly placed Bendigo Braves in a match that they hope will return them to the winner’s list. Since joining the Championship Division, the Raiders have won three of their five games but are yet to take a scalp from a top-end contender. Also, two of their three wins have come from margins below three points, raising questions regarding their worthiness for the top spot. Comparatively, the Braves have also lost two of their five outings in the Championship Division – one of which was a forfeit. Unlike Knox, the Braves have taken big wins against Dandenong and Boomers, making them seem the favourites coming into this match-up. Charlise Dunn, has been in decent form for the Raiders, averaging 11.5 points per game (PPG) from two outings. She’s followed close by Georgia Baldwin, who averages 10.8 from five appearances. For the Braves, Piper Dunlop continues to impress as she placed third across the league for PPG (16.5) from four outings, alongside Tess Barnes who averages 13.5 in ninth spot.

Nunawading Spectres (3rd, 11-3) vs Hawthorn Magic (9th, 8-4-2)

Hawthorn Magic face a huge challenge this week as they face Nunawading Spectres on the road. This year the Spectres have boasted the most dominant streak (11) seen in recent times – going through teams high and low to make it happen. The Magic have faced two top-end sides in recent weeks but may face their biggest yet when they travel to Nunawading. Hawthorn have not had a genuine win in the Championship Division since the opening round against Geelong (41-60) – following up with a draw then a forfeited win against the Braves. With their record in mind, the Magic seem unlikely to break the streak. The Spectres also boast second-best league scorer in Louisa Fakalata (19.5), followed close by Maddison Zugna (15.2) in sixth place. The Magic seem unlikely to match, despite holding Ryleh Killian (15.8) in fifth spot. With Ella Crump just barely rounding out the top-40 in scoring with 6.8 PPG.

Southern Peninsula Sharks (14th, 6-8) vs Dandenong Rangers (5th, 9-5)

Dandenong Rangers will hope to crack into the top four this week as they face the struggling Southern Peninsula Sharks on the road. Still yet to record a win in the Championship Division, the Sharks have the odds stacked against them. The Rangers have won their last three outings and sit two wins away from second spot. A win will help them press for second-chance territory in the coming weeks. Though despite Southern Peninsula’s current record, they still boast three players in the top 20 for league scoring. Charli Dobson has been in top-form, sitting in fourth spot with 16.2 PPG, alongside Emirson Devenie in 12th with 12.2 PPG and Gemma Simon in fourteenth with 11.6. Comparatively, the Rangers only have one player in the top 20, with Emily Sewell averaging 14 points from three outings in seventh spot. Hannah Rapp has also been impressive for the Rangers with 9 PPG.

Bulleen Boomers (2nd, 11-3) vs Geelong Supercats (13th, 6-8)

Bulleen Boomers home record (6-3-0) will be tested this week when they face Geelong Supercats this Friday. Though when compared with Geelong’s away record (2-6-0), it seems unlikely that the Boomers will fall. Since joining the Championship Division, the Boomers have won all but one of their outings. Though much like Knox, Boomers have been so far blessed with an easier fixture and are yet to take a win against a top-end sides. It is not unbelievable that the Supercats cause an upset this week – presenting an impressive contest (53-51) against the league’s most dominant side, Nunawading Spectres. Bulleen’s, Alexandra Keating leads the league in scoring with 21.8 PPG from four outings. She has been accompanied well by Casey Valenti-Paea who averages 13.8 in eighth spot, while the Supercats’ top players, Alishia Knights (13.4), Carly Remmos (12) and Chloe Skinner (10.3), sit below in eleventh, thirteenth and nineteenth respectively.

Diamond Valley Eagles (12th, 7-6-1) vs Altona Gators (7th, 9-4-1)

Looking to make it three in a row, Altona Gators look a serious chance to climb the table when they face Diamond Valley Eagles on the road this week. The Eagles have been less than successful in the Championship Division but boast an impressive 6-1-1 record at home. Considered with Altona’s 5-2-0 record on the road, this game has the potential to be a big one with both sides set to lift a few spots with a positive result. Jade Dunne has been impressive for the Eagles all season, averaging 13.4 PPG from her five outings in tenth for league scoring, alongside Abby Hildebrand who has been similarly impressive with 10.5 in eighteenth. Comparatively, the Gators’ best players both round out the top-20 with Kayla Salmons (10.5) in seventeenth and Trinity Steele (10.3) in 20th.

MUVJBL U18 Girls VC preview: Round 5

THIS week in the Melbourne United Victorian Junior Basketball League (MUVJBL) Under-18 Girls Championship Division, there are plenty of entertaining contests. The Boomers will host the Magic in what could be the game of the round. The clash between Southern Peninsula and Altona Gators could prove to be a close one, with both sides still vying for a finals opportunity. Knox will hope to get further separation from second when they face the sixth-placed Dandenong Rangers to close out the round.

Bulleen Boomers (2nd, 10-3) vs Hawthorn Magic (7th, 8-3-2)

In possibly the game of the round, the Hawthorn Magic travel to Bulleen where they face the second-placed Boomers in a must-win clash. Of those already in the top-eight, this game should prove the hardest fixture for both sides. The Boomers are coming off a defeat, losing to Altona on the road as the Nunawading Spectres move into their place in second. The Magic fell to the top of the table last week, losing 35-45 against Knox. Luckily for the Boomers, they still boast top league scorer in Alexandra Keating, who has averaged 23.7 points per game across three outings. Casey Valenti-Paea and Olivia Tsantarlis have also been impressive for the home side with 12 and 10 PPG respectively. For the Magic, Ryleh Killian leads scoring with 14.3, but unfortunately lacks support similar to the Boomers – possessing no players within the top 40 other than herself. Casey Dunstan and Ella Crump are Hawthorn’s next highest scorers, both averaging six PPG.

Geelong Supercats (13th, 6-7) vs Bendigo Braves (6th, 8-5)

The Geelong Supercats hope to rebound from last week’s loss with a win over a struggling Bendigo Braves. Both sides sit on the edge of leaving and entering the top-eight, making a win in this match-up one of the most important outcomes of the round. For their position, the Supercats boast an impressive record at home (4-1-0). Contrastingly, Bendigo’s record on the road (3-4-0) is one of the worst in the top-eight. Chloe Skinner and Alishia Knights have proven a dangerous duo for the Supercats, averaging 13 PPG each across two and three games respectively. Carly Remmos has also been in form, following close on 12. For the Braves, Tess Barnes (16.7) has been dominant. When paired with teammate, Piper Dunlop (15), there isn’t a lot oppositions can do. With such scoring power, this game looks a real chance to be a round favourite.

Nunawading Spectres (3rd, 10-3) vs Diamond Valley Eagles (11th, 7-5-1)

The Spectres look to keep their huge streak alive when they face the Diamond Valley Eagles in what could be their eleventh consecutive win of the season. Like the Spectres, the Eagles are also coming off a win but are still battling to consolidate their position. A win for the visitors would be a big confidence boost as we move past the season’s midway mark, while a loss could threaten their chances with teams like Geelong and Southern Peninsula on the rise. It is no surprise that the Spectres have two players within the top-five for league scoring. Louis Fakalata has been in top form over the last month, averaging 20.7 PPG in second, while Maddison Zugna follows on 15.8 in fifth. Two spots below Zugna sits Jade Dunne in seventh – Diamond Valley’s top scorer with 15 PPG. Abby Hildebrand and Keeley Evans round out the top 20 in 18th and 20th, averaging 11.3 and 9.7 PPG.

Southern Peninsula Sharks (14th, 6-7) vs Altona Gators (8th, 8-4-1)

Southern Peninsula Sharks look to prove their worth at home when they face the Altona Gators this week. The pair have been in unusual form since joining the Championship Division. Southern Peninsula is yet to record a win in the new division, but despite some bigger margins, came close to knocking the Knox Raiders (77-79) in the second round. Similarly, the Gators came close against Knox (46-47) in the first round, tied with the Magic in the second, lost another close one to Dandenong before finally taking a big scalp in the Bulleen Boomers. The game could go either way, but the Gators have shown much more quality in their losses. For Peninsula, Charli Dobson has been damaging, picking up 16.5 PPG to sit in fourth spot for league scoring. Teammates, Emirson Devenie and Gemma Simon, have also been producing with 11.8 points each per game. Altona are without a player in top 20, with Kayla Salmons just missing the cut in twenty-first with 9.3 PPG. Tyla Paraha follows next on 8.7.

Knox Raiders (1st, 12-1) vs Dandenong Rangers (5th, 8-5)

The Dandenong Rangers have a big job ahead this week when they face league-leaders, Knox Raiders, on the road. Knox will not be looking to give up their two-win lead up easy, but have lost at home once before. In recent weeks, Knox have come close to losing from bottom-end sides in Southern Peninsula and Altona – plus suffered their first defeat of the season against the unstoppable Nunawading Spectres. The Rangers have fallen on both sides of the coin, collecting two wins and two losses in the Championship Division. For the home side, Charlise Dunn has been a stellar producer, averaging 13 PPG, followed close by Georgia Baldwin on 11.8. The Rangers will hope Emily Sewell delivers on her form, having averaged 15 PPG from two games. Hannah Rapp will also need a big performance if Dandenong intend to compete with the Raider’s lock-down style.

MUVJBL U18 Girls VC review: Round 4 – Spectres snare 10 consecutive wins

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.

MUVJBL U18 Girls VC preview: Round 4

IN Round 4 of the Melbourne United Victorian Junior Basketball League (MUVJBL) Under-18 Girls competition, the Nunawading Spectres continue to have their streak tested when they face the Bendigo Braves for a chance to make it 10 in a row. The Hawthorn Magic and Knox Raiders will also host a similarly tight contest with the Raiders coming off their first loss of the season and the Magic looking to break into the top four.

Bendigo Braves (4th, 8-4) vs Nunawading Spectres (3rd, 9-3)

In the game of the round, the Bendigo Braves will test their undefeated home record (5-0-0) against a dominant Nunawading Spectres for a chance to reclaim third. Last round, the Spectres shut down the Raiders’ 11-win streak to keep their own streak (nine) alive. The win took them ahead of this week’s competition, Bendigo Braves, who suffered a poor result last round after forfeiting to Hawthorn. Likely to have won their last game, the Braves will be determined to set the record straight with a big scalp over the Spectres. Piper Dunlop and Tess Barnes sit fifth and sixth for league scoring, averaging 16.5 and 16 points per game (PPG) respectively. The pair, along with Madeline Marks (11.3), have been stellar for Braves and should be eager to take the floor after their extended hiatus. For the Spectres, Louisa Fakalata has been immense, averaging 20 points per game to put her second for league scoring. Teammate, Maddison Zugna, has also been important with 15.3 PPG this game.

Hawthorn Magic (5th, 8-2-2) vs Knox Raiders (1st, 11-1)

In the second biggest outing of the round, the Hawthorn Magic will hope to take advantage of a wounded Knox Raiders with hopes of breaking into the top four. Last round came with unusual results for both sides, with the previously undefeated Raiders losing their first game and Hawthorn gaining a win from a Bendigo forfeit. Coming off the break, Knox are likely to rebound and build some space between them and the Bulleen Boomers in second. Rhyleh Killian has dominated for the Magic, averaging 19 points from two games this season. No other player averages over 10 points for the Magic this season – Ella Crump following on nine PPG. For the Raiders, Charlise Dunn and Georgia Baldwin have led scoring, with 13 and 11.3 PPG respectively. Since the Magic have not played a game in three weeks, the extended break presents a chance of lower cohesiveness when faced with the league-leaders, who will undeniably plan on responding following last round’s result.

Diamond Valley Eagles (11th, 6-5-1) vs Southern Peninsula Sharks (13th, 6-6)

In eleventh and thirteenth, both sides sit only one win below seventh place, making this game a must win for both. On Friday, the Diamond Valley Eagles host the Southern Peninsula Sharks, where the Sharks hope to snare their first win in the VC Championships. Despite coming off the loss last week, the Eagles’ impressive record (5-1-1) dictates that they win this week’s game. Comparatively, the Sharks record on the road leaves much to be desired (2-3-0). For the Eagles, Jade Dunne leads scoring with 15.3 PPG, followed by Abby Hildebrand on 10. Last round, Georgia Kitchell was immense for the Eagles, snaring 19 points to lead her team in scoring – followed by Dunne on 17. For the Sharks, Charli Dobson sits fourth for league scoring with 18.7 PPG, with her teammates, Gemma Simon (10.3) and Emirson Devenie (10), rounding out the top-20 at 17th and 18th respectively.

Altona Gators (9th, 7-4-1) vs Bulleen Boomers (2nd, 10-2)

The Bulleen Boomers have a real chance to steal top spot if they can topple the Altona Gators at home this week. Though in ninth, the Gators sit just one win below fourth, meaning a win for Altona could see them scale the ladder. Thus far, the Boomers are without a loss on the road (5-0-0), while the Gators haven’t defined a real preference at home (4-2-1) or away (3-2-0) but came extremely close to defeating the once undefeated Raiders (46-47) in the opening round of the VC Championship. Despite all that, the Gators are yet to win a game in the VC, recording a draw in their second game and losing their other two by a combined margin of four points. The Gators also lack damaging scorers with no player inside the top 20. Kayla Salmons so far leads with 9.3 PPG, followed close by Tylah Paraha with 8.7. For Bulleen, Alexandra Keating leads the league in scoring with 23.7 PPG, with Casey Valenti-Paea and Olivia Tsantarlis following close on 12 and 10 PPG.

Dandenong Rangers (8th, 7-5) vs Geelong Supercats (12th 6-6)

The Dandenong Rangers present a real chance to contest next round if they can beat the Geelong Supercats at home. Like many other sides, the Rangers sit just one win below fourth, while the Supercats also have a chance of lifting decently in the standings. Both sides are coming off wins from the break, with the Rangers surpassing the Gators in a tight win. Emily Sewell leads scoring for the Rangers with 15 PPG from two games, followed by Leia Hanafin who dropped nine points in her first game last round. For the Supercats, Chloe Skinner and Alishia Knights share the lead for points, both averaging 13 PPG. Carly Remmos follows close with 12, presenting a big chance alongside Skinner and Knights to punch a few holes in Dandenong’s defense.