Seymour under-16 basketballers do themselves proud in big tournament.February 13, 2014 4:13am
The Seymour Blasters under-16 girls advanced to their division’s semi-finals during the Eltham-Dandenong Junior Basketball Tournament, which is billed as the largest junior basketball tournament in the Southern Hemisphere.
Held over the Australia Day long weekend at venues throughout Melbourne’s suburbs, the tournament attracts more than 1000 teams. It was the first time the girls, many of whom have played since age nine or 10, played in a metro tournament.
For the Blasters, who normally come up against the same country teams each year during their regular tournament season, the EDJBT gave the girls an opportunity to try their skill against sides associated with bigger and better resourced associations. The professionalism, teamwork and talent the girls brought to the weekend didn’t disappoint coach Mick Byrnes.
On opening day, the Blasters won two out of their three games in the Division B3 draw. This included wins against Craigieburn (30-24) and Keilor (30-23), who ultimately faced each other in the grand final. And the loss of the day came down to the wire against Camberwell. Seymour held a narrow lead through much of the game, but in the final minutes Camberwell pulled ahead to take the win (22-21).
Claudia Cook was top scorer on the day, and Nicki Bradley played hard in defence eager to take the rebounds. The girls, short one of their regular players, also were assisted by under-14 player Ellie Hedger. She put points on the board each game, but was sidelined for the rest of the tournament after a third match ankle injury.
On day two the Blasters were determined to hold onto their second spot on the ladder. It looked promising with their win against Ringwood (20-14). But it came undone with a surprise loss to Bulleen, who held onto an elusive lead to the very end (21-15).
The girls struggled to regain their composure against the last of their regular game opponents, Hawthorn. The Blasters trailed until near the end of the game, when they dug deep and tied the match for a 17-point draw.
Claudia again led the scoreboard, but was ably assisted by Courtney Aldous, Phoebe Elliott and Macy Byrnes. Caitlan Haggis was a fantastic all-rounder, and Chelsea Skerritt played a strong defence in the key.
With a place in the semi-final secured, the girls were hopeful they could pull off another win against Craigieburn to advance to the grand final. But Craigieburn was set to retain its top spot and played a tight game. The weight of the weekend made it hard for Seymour to close the gap and at half time trailed 12-5. The lead only grew in the second half and Seymour lost 28-14.
Coach Mick Byrnes said the girls should be proud of their efforts to have advanced so well over the weekend against players that are at times Division One and Victorian state players. He said the Blasters will be stronger for the experience.
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