The Centre of Excellence have navigated a triple-header with four wins from six games across the men’s and women’s competitions in Round 8 of the 2019 NBL1 season.
The men began the weekend with a heartbreaking loss to the Diamond Valley Eagles despite putting together a 35-point final quarter that saw Josh Bannan (15 points) score the first eight of the term before Hunter Clarke and Hunter Goodrick (18 points combined) nailed three’s of their own.
Trailing by four with 23 seconds remaining, Alex Ducas (16 points, three steals) then hit a three himself to keep the pressure on Diamond Valley and the Eagles turned the ball over on their final possession to open the door for Tamuri Wigness (14 points) but his runner on the buzzer just rimmed out as the CoE fell 82-83.
Backing up the following night against the Waverley Falcons, the CoE took a five-point lead into the main break before racing away for a comfortable 95-67 victory.
Ten players hit the scoreboard with six reaching double-figures as the CoE’s impressive depth proved too much for the Falcons.
Isaiah Lee and Josh Kunen top-scored for the team with 16 points apiece, Blake Jones added 15 off the bench and Hyunjung Lee had 14 points while Goodrick combined four points with 15 rebounds and two assists.
“It was great to get some of our athletes back to full health and bolster our squad,” said head coach Adam Caporn.
“Bannan, Clarke and Wigness coming back definitely enabled us to play harder for longer and just add some more experienced scoring to our lineup.”
Completing their weekend at a neutral venue against NW Tasmania, the CoE blew their opponents out of the water with a 25-9 second term which set up a 66-59 win.
Once again their bench was outstanding, finishing with a 21-6 advantage courtesy of 12 points from Wil Tattersal while Goodrick collected a monster double-double of 23 points and 16 rebounds.
“A triple header is a good challenge for us and important in what we are trying to achieve,” said Caporn.
“We know that gold medals are won at the end of the week so we remain as stringent on preparation, reviewing the previous game, doing a scout and all the details the athletes will need to be successful in international tournaments and professional careers in their future.
‘We weren’t happy with the consistency of our defense against Diamond Valley but over the next 80 minutes of basketball we really competed hard on the defensive end and had 12 contributors in that area.”
Over halfway through their 20-game season, the CoE men sit at 7-7 and in fifth place on the ladder. They play only once in the next month as we near the Under-19 World Cup while the start of the college season will also see several players depart the team.
“This group has lofty expectations and has set the goal of making the playoffs as one part of our journey this year,” said Caporn.
“This weekend was the last round of games for Ducas, Goodrick, Kunen, Isaiah Lee, Kyle Bowen and Hyungjun Lee but I am so proud of those departing athletes and I feel lucky to have coached them.
“They are all very high character, hard working young men that fully invested into our program. I would really like to credit all of the CoE, NBA Global and AIS staff that have played integral roles in providing a platform for these guys to achieve something special with their careers.”
Coming into Round 8 without a win on the season, the CoE women put together another strong opening half on Friday night against Diamond Valley.
This time, they were able to consolidate their performance and went on to record a maiden victory for 2019, prevailing 83-75 thanks to Lily Scanlon’s 19 points and 12 points, seven rebounds from Ashlee Hannan while they held the Eagles to 33% shooting as a team.
“It was a similar match to a number of games this season where we were strong in the first half but tightened in the second, allowing teams to gain momentum and overrun us,” said head coach, Kristen Veal.
“The girls showed not only great toughness on Friday but an ability to problem solve through increased pressure and changes from the opposition.”
They were unable to put together a winning streak on Saturday night, falling 53-67 to Waverley but quickly bounced back on Sunday against Launceston in their most efficient offensive performance of the season, thrashing the Tornadoes 102-65.
Showcasing their impressive depth, the CoE got every player on the scoreboard with six going on to score 11+. They absolutely dominated in the paint as Kelsey Rees (16 points, 11 rebounds), Millie Prior (13 points, 11 rebounds) and Hannan (12 points, 14 boards) helped the CoE to a 30-8 edge in offensive rebounds and a 34-2 advantage in second chance points.
“Depth is so important for our young team, it allows us to manage bodies and sustain pressure and intensity over a three-game road trip,” said Veal.
“It was great to see all players perform well at various moments across the weekend- a real team effort.”
As with the men, the CoE play just one game in the next month, a clash against Frankston at the AIS in Round 10.
“Seven of our girls head into the final selection camp for the Under-19 Gems next weekend, followed by a much needed break over the Queen’s Birthday weekend.
“We are now looking to make sure the group is strong and healthy over the next three weeks and ready for our final home game of the season against Frankston.”