In the lead-up to the Under-18 Championships and Kevin Coombs Cup which will run in Geelong, Victoria, from April 21-28, we preview the teams from all eight state and territories that are represented.
Under-18 Men’s Queensland North Team List: Ethan Crees, Alex Davies, Sean Heugh, Logan Kyle, Boston Mazlin, Tibah O’Brien, Callum Parsons, Michael Selsby, Tamuri Wigness, Mitchell Wright.
Queensland North pushed Vic Metro all the way in the gold medal game last year, falling by just two points and as the only returning player from that team, Callum Parsons will be keen for revenge in 2018.
They will be led by Tamuri Wigness who is coming off a gold medal at the Under-16 Asian Championships where he also helped the Crocs qualify for the Under-17 World Cup later this year. An exciting and athletic prospect, Wigness has the ability to dominate the competition but will need to draw his team mates into the contest as well if Queensland North are to succeed.
“Tamuri is a future star and has been developing his game at the Centre of Excellence (CoE) as well,” said Basketball WA Game Development Manager, Warwick Cann.
“As the lead guard, he will have a major influence on the team.”
Oppositions cannot sleep on the likes of Boston Mazlin though who averaged 7.2 points per game at last year’s Under-16’s and Queensland North’s front court is stacked with length courtesy of 201cm Tibah O’Brien as well as Sean Heugh and Logan Kyle who will be making his state debut next week.
Under-18 Men’s Queensland South Team List: Thomas Cordwell, Elias Cato, Donovan Crowe, Kian Dennis, Blake Jones, Mojavee King, Moses Majok, Kian Milburn, Lucas Schmidt, Didan Toto.
The Queensland South men have a recent national representative to lead their team as well through Blake Jones who won a silver medal at the Under-18 Albert Schweitzer Tournament for Australia this month.
He recorded 12.4 points and 6.8 rebounds at the Under-16’s in 2017 and is likely to power their offence again this year.
“Blake is a key player for the group but there are a number of players with similar body types to help him,” said Cann.
“There has been a fair bit of turnover from the Under-16’s group ahead of this year but the team is very athletic and long so we are keen to see how they perform.”
Out of seven top-agers, Donovan Crowe is the one returning player and his four points and three rebounds per game last year will be complemented by Jones and Lucas Schmidt who also stand at over 200cm as they aim to occupy the paint.
Mojavee King will control their back court as a potent scorer while Kian Milburn is a damaging player out on the perimeter at both ends of the floor after collecting 7.9 points, 4.3 rebounds, 1.6 assists and 1.4 steals at the Under-16’s in 2016.
Under-18 Women’s Queensland North Team List: Harriet Carey, Summah Evans, Aliza Fabbro, Alexandra Fowler, Sarah Heard, Shantah Kaigey, Shaina Pacey, Nikita van Wyk, Courtney Virgo, Chloe Whitton.
Both Queensland women’s teams were around the mark last year, with North and South finishing fourth and fifth respectively.
“The core group of this year’s North women’s team comes out of Townsville,” said Cann.
“They may not have as many name players but they mesh really well together on court as they come out of the same region so on their day, we expect they can do very well and hopefully challenge for the Semi-Finals.”
Alexander Fowler showcased her international pedigree at last year’s Under-16 Asian Championships, finishing with seven points, ten rebounds, two assists and two blocks in the final against Japan.
A strong post-player, Fowler’s passing ability is an underrated part of her game and could help three-point shooters like Courtney Virgo (who made almost three per game at the Under-16’s two years ago), Shaina Pacey and Nikita van Wyk if she draws a crowd.
Shantah Kaigey is another player to keep an eye on as a true two-way player. A capable shooter from long distance, Kaigey is just as adept as getting to the rim while her average of 2.5 steals at last year’s Under-16’s put her in the top 15 for the competition.
Under-18 Women’s Queensland South Team List: Grace Champion, Grace Ellis, Adelaide Fuller, Ashlee Hannan, Victoria Lewis, Tara Manumaleuga, Chynelle Marama, Neferatali Notoa, Sitera Rasova, Georgia Woolley.
An experienced Queensland South side will be one of the teams to beat in 2018 and they will be looking to utilise their advantage in the front court through CoE product Adelaide Fuller, Victoria Lewis and Grace Ellis.
“Adelaide is doing well at the CoE and in the SEABL competition as well (where she is averaging six points and 4.5 rebounds across four contests). She fits into the Queensland South team very well and is an all-purpose worker who can score really well.”
Ellis averaged 9.2 points and 8.7 rebounds at last year’s Under-16’s while Lewis gets the opportunity to prove herself in a national competition after impressing in the Southern Districts Basketball Association.
While those forwards will take a lot of attention, opposition teams cannot forget about Tara Manumaleuga or Grace Champion who have the ability to win matches from their own hand with strong offensive games while Chynelle Marama will crash the glass and has great court awareness.
Speaking on the importance of the Under-18 Championships, Cann stressed the crucial nature of the tournament in terms of player development.
“It is a culmination of what they have been working towards as it is their last tournament aligned with high school before they head off to universities and colleges. From Australia’s point of view, it is a barometer of the standard of youth basketball and is always a highlight of the year.”
Kevin Coombs Cup Team List:
Georgia Bishop-Cash, Lachlin Dalton, Brayden Foxley-Connolly, Dylan Gawthorne, Benjamin Grice, Eithen Leard, Dylan Robinson, Hayden Siebuhr, Cooper Robert Whitestyles, Rya Williams.
Since it’s introduction in 2010, Queensland have owned the Kevin Coombs Cup with consistent performances that saw them win the title in 2015 while claiming the gold and silver medals last year with two teams.
This year they are back to one representative side which made selection a difficult prospect but the roster they have put together should have them installed as favourites heading into 2018.
Lachlin Dalton and Hayden Siebuhr were members of the bronze medal winning Australian Under-23 Spinners team last year while Dylan Gawthorne has also been a part of that team in the past.
Gawthorne also represents the Queensland Spinning Bullets in the NWBL where he is averaging eight points and 2.6 rebounds per game this season while Benjamin Grice will be a key part of their defence after averaging two steals per contest at least year’s Kevin Coombs Cup.
Georgia Bishop-Cash will be a leader, having won a World Championship silver medal with the Australian Devils and she is on the Gliders radar as they head towards a World Champs later this year.