Under-14 Club Champs: Enthralling day one sets scene for big week in Ballarat

Under-14 Club Champs: Enthralling day one sets scene for big week in Ballarat

After a rousing opening ceremony that saw all 48 teams gather on centre court in front of 1100 spectators, the tip-off for the 2019 Under 14 Club Championship had arrived.

Ballarat witnessed plenty of thrills and spills on day one, as the young teams got their first chance to feel out the competition. Of the 36 games played, here are just some of the highlights from today’s action.

Boys

Spectators didn't have to wait long to see the first thriller of the tournament. In the third game of the day, the North Bears (NSW) and the Willetton Tigers (WA) squared off in a slugfest, with both teams relentlessly trading punches.

The first three quarters passed with both teams appearing evenly matched. It wasn’t until the final quarter that the Tigers were finally able to surge clear of the Bears thanks to some great perimeter shooting, winning 69-56.

Noah Larsen was the Tigers’ biggest contributor, with 20 points to his name. Alexander Mackinlay was also a key factor in the Tigers’ win, hitting two three-pointers in the fourth.

The McKinnon Cougars (VIC) and the Illawarra Hawks (NSW) had a mighty tussle of their own in the afternoon. In a slow and grinding game, defence was the real star. Both teams were able to put sustained defensive pressure on one another for nearly the entire match.

The Cougars had a comfortable eight-point lead going into the fourth, but that advantage started to look less secure down the stretch, as their shots stopped falling and the points dried up.

An opening had appeared for Illawarra, but they were unable to punish the Cougars for their dry spell and McKinnon was eventually able to get some rhythm back and hold onto the lead. The Cougars won 46-39, with Jude Fountain pouring in 18 points to get his team over the line.

In one of the tightest game of the day, the Geelong Supercats (VIC) scraped past the determined Warwick Senators (WA) 75-74. After racing off to an early lead in the first quarter the Supercats appeared to have the game under control.

After surviving Geelong's opening punch, the Senators knuckled down and got to work. Over the next three quarters they patiently chipped away at the Supercats’ lead, finding themselves within reaching distance heading into the fourth. In the end, Geelong was just able to hang on, thanks to an incredible 31 point explosion from Jesse Ombega.

Girls

The defending girls' champions Gold Coast Waves (QLD) had a tough start to the competition. Against a defensively energetic Hawthorn Magic (VIC), they struggled to find their rhythm for most of the first half.

The Magic’s full-court pressure overwhelmed the Gold Coast in the first half, and the Magic were able to generate extra possessions off the back of their tireless defensive efforts.

The Waves were finally able to steady themselves in the second half but were couldn't to overcome the lead the Magic had built through the first two quarters, losing 47-72. Georgia McBean had a terrific game for Hawthorn and finished with 21 points.

The Sturt Sabres (SA) and the Newcastle Hunter (NSW) battled hard in a tough and at times physical game. For much of the game the Hunters were in command. They were able to do a great job dictating the pace of the game and were able to penetrate to the basket, taking advantage of their size.

Heading into the final period of play the Hunters only led the Sabres 29-26. After having difficulty finding the bottom of the net, the Sabres suddenly exploded, going on a 13-2 run in the first five minutes.

The Hunters were able to compose themselves and go on a late run of their own, but it wasn’t enough to overtake the Sabres, who won 44-41. Newcastle’s Saffron Shiels top-scored for the game, with 24 points, including four three-pointers.

For all the results from a jam-packed day one, check the daily dribble here.