Under-14 Club Champs: Quarter-Final action tips off as competition heats up in Ballarat

Under-14 Club Champs: Quarter-Final action tips off as competition heats up in Ballarat

The pool stages came to a close and the quarter-finals tipped off, during an action-packed day four of the Under 14 National Club Championships in Ballarat.

Here are some of the highlight games from the day.

Boys.

It was do-or-die for the Willetton Tigers (WA) and the Cairns Marlins (QLD) in a Pool CC knockout game in the championship division. The pressure of the occasion was evident in the early stages, as a possibly nervous Marlins squad let some simple passes become turnovers that the Tigers were able to capitalise on for some early transition baskets.

The Tigers’ ball movement was fluid early, as they patiently swung the rock around the perimeter to probe for openings. Late in the quarter the Marlins were able to penetrate to the basket but failed to capitalise on some nice scoring opportunities.

After conceding a number of offensive rebounds to the Marlins in the first quarter, the Tigers rebounded with a greater sense of urgency in the second quarter. Their defence also ratcheted up a gear, as they conceded a miserly three points in the second period.

Cairns began to hit the glass and run the floor in the third,  with their improved energy and effort catching the Tigers off guard. After scoring a total of eleven points in the first half, Cairns outscored the Tigers 16-5 in the third, bringing them right back into the game heading into the fourth.

Trailing by eight points, the Marlins entered the fourth will all the momentum, though the Tigers’ defence responded, shutting down a number of possessions with their intense on-ball defence. In the end, they were able to hold off the Cairns run, winning, 48-39. Nicholus Lahiri and Adrien Cotte both finished with ten points.

The North Adelaide Rockets (SA) and the Hills Hornets (NSW) met for a twilight quarter-final in front of a frenzied crowd of supporters. The Rockets had the best of the Hornets in the early stages of the game, as they used their size to get easy baskets. The Hornets were then able to counter, thanks to their speedy guards driving and dishing to cutters.

As the game progressed both teams began to unleash their transition offence, but the Rockets were more efficient and kept growing their lead. The Hornets responded to the Rockets success in the paint in a big way in the third, adopting the philosophy of quadruple teaming Mohammed Al-Ani whenever he touched the ball in the key or post.

It was an effective strategy and the Hornets were able to mount a comeback, reducing the margin to three points heading into the fourth period.

The lead changed multiple times in a fast paced and physical final quarter. However, in a quarter where emotions occasionally ran high, the Hornets were able to keep their cool and pull away to an 60-50 victory. Bailey Thom scored 23 points in the victory.

Girls.

The Willetton Tigers Basketball Club (WA) was once again involved in a knockout pool game. This time it was the girls' team facing the Bankstown Bruins (NSW) in Pool BB of the championship division.

The Tigers defended well in the opening minutes of the game, as they appeared to make a concerted effort to hassle the Bruins tall players, collapsing on them when they got deep position. However, the Bruins weren’t to be denied, as they went on a run late in the first quarter on the back of some nice off-ball backdoor cuts.

The Bruins carried their momentum into the second period as they proceeded to go on an 8-0 run. After halting Bankstown’s run with a three, the Tigers went on 5-0 run in less than a minute, halting the Bruins’ ambitions of pulling away late in the half.

The third quarter was a high-scoring period for both teams, but the Bruins’ extra-pass mentality proved to be the most effective. Their willingness to make the extra pass gave them some easy looks, as their dynamic guards were able to draw extra defensive attention.

The Tigers looked like they could be on the verge of making a comeback for much of the fourth, but the Bruins were able to put their foot on the gas and pull away, winning 73-59. Jennifer Mailei was Bankstown’s top scorer with 19 points.

The Sale Sonics (VIC) and the Canberra Capitals (ACT) met in the first championship quarter-final of the day. It was run-and-gun game in the opening minutes, with both teams shooting early in the shot-clock. However, Sale soon began to pull away and the Capitals couldn’t match their pace when the Sonics poured on 11 points in the first three minutes.

The Sonics showed off their ability to score in a variety of ways, creating open driving lanes with the pick and roll, and throwing in some three-balls for extra measure. Canberra was able to inflict some damage on the Sonics, catching them napping on defence on a couple of occasions. However, the Capitals’ defence let them down late in the quarter, and they seemed unable to stop the Sonics scoring in the paint.

In the third quarter, Sale began to run away with the game, surging towards a 67-43 victory. Alexandra Beale led the Sonics with 19 points.

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