UNDER-18 CHAMPIONSHIPS AND KEVIN COOMBS CUP PREVIEW- NSW

UNDER-18 CHAMPIONSHIPS AND KEVIN COOMBS CUP PREVIEW- NSW

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 NSW Country Team List: Jonah Anderson, Ryan Bath, Philipp Dopud, Keegan Harvey, Oliver Hedger, Henry Johnson, Harry Morris, Kobe Mansell, Ben Pearce, Ryan Rowe.

A major turnover for NSW Country sees no players return from their fourth-placed finish last year although four players are still top-agers that can bring some experience to the side.

Matthew Johnston is back as the head coach though and he will be hoping to lead the team to redemption after dropping a bronze medal chance against NSW Metro in 2017.

203cm Keegan Harvey, who has been a big scorer in the Waratah Junior Leagues, as well as 203cm Philip Dopud will be key to their chances in the front court.

Ryan Bath will keep the scoreboard ticking over as well, having collected 12.3 points per game at last year’s Under-16’s while Jonah Anderson will be a strong back court player at both ends of the floor with 2.3 assists and 2.3 steals per game at the same tournament.

Under-18 Men’s NSW Metro Team List: Biwali Bayles, Clancy Bird, Lachlan Bofinger, Chris Choi, Liam Fitzgerald, Campbell Green, Hunter Jack-Madden, Robert Moore, Stirling Smith, Nicko Timonera.

NSW Metro got the better of NSW Country in 2017 to earn the bronze medal but in similar fashion to their intrastate counterparts, a large turnover from that team will only see Hunter-Jack Madden return.

He was relatively quiet as a bottom-ager last year but with 22 points, 3.4 assists and 1.9 steals per game as a top-age Under-16’s the year before, oppositions will not be taking him lightly next week.

Biwali Bayles has made his first state team after starring at Under-14 Club Championships level a few years ago when he averaged 18.3 points and his combination with Madden has the potential to be devastating while Robert Moore and Nicko Timonera are athletic and speedy additions that will help NSW Metro get out in transition.

Their front court will be led by Campbell Green, who competed at last year's Under-18's and Clancy Bird, who had a strong showing at Under-16's last year and at around 200cm each, they will need to crash the boards hard against someone of the strongest forwards around the competition.

Under-18 Women’s NSW Country Team List: Olivia Barber, Lucy Chapman, Sarah Cooper, Matilda Flood, Rosanna Jennings, Phoebe Johnson, Ruby-Belle MacDonald, Abbey Morton, Isabel Palmer, Serena Waters.

Developing her game at the Centre of Excellence, Isabel Palmer is a potential future Opal and has been starring at SEABL level. Just last week, she showed how damaging she can be with 27 points on 11-13 shooting in the CoE’s win over Ballarat and she will be aiming to carry that form into the Under-18’s as the leader of the team.

Palmer also shone at the FIBA Asian Championships last year, helping to qualify the Australian Sapphires for the FIBA Under-17 World Cup and she did so after pacing NSW Country with ten points per game at the 2017 Under-18’s, as a bottom-ager.

She returns alongside Abbey Morton, Lucy Chapman, Matilda Flood who led the team for steals with 2.6 per game and Serena Waters who drained a total of nine three-pointers across the tournament for 8.9 points per game.

They will be joined by Rosanna Jennings who will boost their front court stocks as a strong offensive rebounder while Phoebe Johnson and Ruby-Belle MacDonald also have the chance to showcase themselves on a national stage as key forwards.

Under-18 Women’s NSW Metro Team List: Tatiana Beaumont, Rebekah Dallinger, Charlotte Gorman, Shyla Heal, Kitty Henderson, Meg Jefferson, Gracie Lee, Elles van der Meer, Sarah Wacher, Sadie Walsh-Gay.

Despite being a bottom-ager last year, Shyla Heal showed she is well on the way to following in her father’s footsteps as she finished second for scoring (19.8 points per game) and first for free-throw percentage (87.8%).

NSW Metro were unable to get the results they were after though, finishing seventh, but now with Heal as well as five other players coming back for their top-age tournament, they will back themselves to be a medal chance.

Sadie Walsh-Gay struggled to find her shot last year but still averaged over seven points per game while Gracie Lee and Meg Jefferson showed signs that they could dominate the paint this time around if their development continues its upward surge.

Kitty Henderson will be a major addition to their back court as well but her contribution is not just limited to a guard's role as she recorded 13 points, 5.9 rebounds, 3.7 assists and 1.9 steals at last year’s Under-16’s.

Her ability to set up her team mates alongside Heal will be a key part of their tournament next week.

Kevin Coombs Cup Team List:
Taitum Brown, Jessica Cronje, Ethan Hallak, Maryanne Latu, Georgia Munro-Cook, Ashlea Pellow, Jessica Pellow, Keltan Williams.

The most successful Kevin Coombs Cup team outside of Queensland, NSW were victors in 2012 and 2016 and they have almost pulled together the entire Sydney Metro Blues team from the Women’s National Basketball League (WNWBL) to compete this year.

Experienced players Jess Cronje and Georgia Munro-Cook (a double-double machine) lead the Blues and they will lead NSW as well this year.

They were also members of the 2016 gold medal winning team with Munro-Cook averaging 17.3 points and 13.7 rebounds per game while Taitum Brown, Maryanne Latu and Ashlea and Jess Pellow were also a part of that side.

Keltan Williams represents the Sydney Metro Blues in the National Wheelchair Basketball League (NWBL) to add to the team’s pedigree while Ethan Hallak gets a chance to represent his state at just 13 years of age.