SA Metro Women and WA Metro Men have been crowned 2021 Australian Under-18 Champions following wins in their respective Gold Medal matches played at Eagle Stadium in Werribee on Saturday.
After the 2020 event was cancelled due to impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, 26 teams featuring the countries best young men’s and women’s basketball talent from across the nation eagerly converged on this year’s Championships.
Women’s Final – VIC Metro vs SA Metro
The Women’s Gold Medal match saw undefeated teams, VIC Metro and SA Metro meet in a much-anticipated affair, with the South Australians looking to dethrone their Victorian rivals who had won five of the past six Championships and in doing so claim their first title since 1990.
After an even opening to the first quarter, it was SA Metro who took control of the game getting out to a 16-11 lead with less than two minutes remaining in the term thanks to 10-points and four rebounds from captain Tayla Brazel. However, VIC Metro rallied late and cut the deficit to three, 18-15 at the break.
While SA Metro opened their account with a 3-pointer from Maddy Hinton to start the period, Sophie Burrow for VIC Metro took it upon herself to draw the scores level at 24 a piece with 5’ 30 before half-time.
But in the blink of an eye, SA Metro pushed their lead back out to eight with 2’ 55 left on the clock thanks to the impressive Brazil, who scored six points inside a minute.
However, the Victorians had a monster final three minutes led by Nyadiew Puoch and Tess Heal, taking a 33-32 lead into the final quarter.
Not long into the third and VIC Metro were in foul trouble with both Puoch and Burrows sitting on three fouls a piece.
Halfway through the quarter – with the lead having already changed eight times during the game – it was SA Metro who took the ascendancy and pulled out to a 45-39 lead.
With two minutes remaining on the clock, the game really came alive with some outstanding shooting from distance, with Jess Simons draining three straight threes to guide SA Metro to a 7-point lead, 50-43 at the final break.
It was more of the same in the opening five minutes of the fourth with SA Metro – the leading offensive team in the women’s division of the championships – building upon the lead, in part due to the work at both ends of the court by Izzy Borlase.
As fatigue and the tension of the occasion set-in, both teams turned over possession but it didn’t have an impact on the final result with SA Metro Women claiming their first Australian Under-18 Championships in 31 years, 72-64.
SA Metro – 72
Tayla Brazel – 24 points, 8 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steels
Izzy Borlase – 22 points, 16 rebounds, 5 assists, 2 steels
Jess Simons – 16 points, 6 rebounds
VIC Metro – 64
Tess Heal – 25 points, 10 rebounds, 5 assists
Sophie Burrows – 13 points, 10 rebounds, 3 assists
Men’s Final – QLD North vs WA Metro
Perhaps an unlikely final heading into the championships and after both teams finished third in their respective pools, but both QLD North and WA Metro secured their place in the big dance after a stunning run of results during the second half of the tournament.
WA Metro got off to a flyer, leading 8-2 after just three minutes and continued their ascendancy midway through the term, extending their lead to 11-points, 18-7.
Rory Hawke continued his excellent Championships and exerted his influence at both ends of the court for QLD North, helping his team to within five points at quarter-time.
With the score 18-13 at the start of the second, it didn’t take long for the Western Australian outfit to pull their lead back out to ten. But thanks to some silky link-up play between Jaylon Beecroft and Kane Runnalls, the deficit was cut to six after three minutes in the term.
As the quarter went on, WA pairing Thomas Gerovich and Ben Henshall turned things up a notch with a series of strong scores from both inside and outside of the arc, combining for a first half contribution of 21 points to help their side to a 35-25 lead at the main break.
On the back of Hawke and Luca Yates, QLD North levelled the scores 50-all with seconds remaining in the third quarter but a clutch 3-pointer by Gerovich on the buzzer meant WA took the lead into the last ten minutes of the tournament.
Henshall came out firing in the final term with five quick points, and was joined by teammate Ethan Elliott in helping their side go on a 12-2 run and a 65-52 lead.
While they never gave up, it was a margin that QLD North couldn’t claw back, with WA Metro claiming the 2021 Championship, 76-62.
WA Metro – 76
Ben Henshall – 21 points, 9 rebounds, 2 assists, 4 steels
Thomas Gerovich – 18 points, 5 rebounds, 1 assists, 1 steels
Ethan Elliott – 16 points, 6 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 steels
QLD North – 62
Rory Hawke – 23 points, 10 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 steel
Luca Yates – 17 points, 8 rebounds
Luc Longley Fair Play Award recipient
WA Metro Women
For all tournament results and stats, click HERE.
2021 Australian Under-18 Championships Final Standings:
|Place||Under-18 Women||Under-18 Men|
|1||SA Metro||WA Metro|
|2||VIC Metro||QLD North|
|4||QLD South||NSW Metro|
|5||SA Country||VIC Metro|
|6||NSW Metro||SA Metro|
|7||WA Metro||NSW Country|
|8||NSW Country||QLD South|
|9||WA Country||VIC Country|
|12||QLD North||WA Country|
|13||Northern Territory||SA Country|
Basketball Australia would like to extend its gratitude to the Executive Committee and staff at Wyndham Basketball for hosting the 2021 Under-18 Championships and thank the many volunteers for their hard work in the lead-up and throughout the event.