The Chemist Warehouse Echuca junior Pirates travelled to Wangaratta on November 19 and 20 for a local tournament.
Seven of the fifteen teams from Echuca made the grand final, including the under 12 A boys, 14 A boys, 16 A girls, 16 A boys, 18 A girls, 18 B girls and under 20 men, and three of the teams became the eventual winner.
Under 14 B boys
The under 14 boys B side won two of its four games in an impressive overall effort from the team.
Echuca came up against Benalla for the first game of the Wangaratta tournament and luckily for Echuca Benalla’s many tall players were off their shots and Echuca’s Tighe O’Brien was rebounding first class.
Ryan Simmon’s zippy moves and accuracy had him score early, while Will Poulton’s speed allowed him to apply great strength and pressure in defence to force some fantastic errors and rejections.
Unfortunately it wasn’t enough to take the game, Benalla 21 to Echuca 15.
Game two was against Mansfield, the Echuca boys were focused and started the game well with Copper Ramsey, who was a force to be reckoned, leading the way by scoring early and Joel Priestley followed up with some classy shots.
Hugh Byrne’s ability to read the play enabled him to intercept and apply fantastic mid court pressure to create multiple turn overs. Echuca worked hard to win 32 to 23.
Game three against Yarrawonga-Mulwala, the eventual winners of division two with a dream team of height, speed and accuracy at goal, was always going to be a tough ask for Coach Munro and his boys.
Declan Baker showed strength and courage to slow their play and Hudson Connelly had some extraordinary intercepts leaving his spectators quite impressed, while O’Brien worked tirelessly to score and rebound.
To the boys credit they all fought hard and never gave up with Yarrawonga-Mulwala the eventual winners (41-12).
The fourth game saw Echuca come up against Wodonga Wolves.
Joel Priestley’s early three-pointer, followed up by a couple more goals and great passes, led the way for Echuca to take control of the game.
Lachie Carter posted up and held sturdy under the ring to command space allowing him to score and defend strong. Ben Russell’s speed, enthusiasm and attack at the ball created many turn overs allowing Echuca to win 27 to 12.
Under 16 B boys
The under 16 B boys bottom-age team hadn’t been far off the mark all season.
They started with a half game of solid teamwork against Wodonga and Solomon McKay’s low dribbling created opportunities under the ring for Nick George and Levi Dixon whose shooting was on.
In the second half, Wodonga stepped up their defense, but Ned Osborne and Seb Monahan were patient around the key and Spencer Stubbs’ ball handling was smooth. Luka Simpson’s screen allowed a late three from Angus Baldwin, but it wasn’t enough with the final score (36-26).
Dillon Russell put the boys in front early against Albury and Kiefer Berryman, Simpson and Baldwin all shot threes and Osborne and Dixon combined well. The boys fell away late and the result was a very disappointing 2 point loss (30-32).
Coach Steve Pearce asked for increased effort against Yarrawonga-Mulwala. McKay pestered the opposing offence and George’s rebounding was valuable. Simpson stayed close to the main scorer in the last half and the boys earned their win (26-17). Shepparton brought out the best in Stubbs and Osborne who were on fire in the final game.
Fast-running McKay, Berryman and Russell rounded the ball like sheepdogs and Dixon’s post work was solid to earn the sweet second win (30-26).
Under 14 A boys
Under 14 A boys won all games to make the grand final, playing their first against Shepparton in what was a slow start from the Pirates.
Sam Deola was first to score and solid defence from Will Rohde ensured Echuca lead at the break. Elijah Bruns continued to increase the lead with Luke Caine rebounding well. Echuca 36 to Shepparton 11
Anthony Huismann quickly put the points on the board from the first tap against Wodonga. Hunter Dixon teamed well with Kobyn James to apply plenty of pressure down the court and were also able to hit the ring. A slower second half still allowed Echuca to run home winners 24-13.
The game against Wangaratta saw Echuca trailing at the first break. Rohde continued his great form for the weekend and did plenty of work both ends of the court to slow Wangaratta’s scoring (29-17).
After a low scoring first half against Albury, all players ended up with a score on the board at the final whistle. Darby Wileman and Nash Ramage were solid both ends of the court and once again Rohde and Dixon ensured Echuca made a date with the Grand Final winning 30-15.
The grand final against Seymour saw Bruns on fire ensuring Echuca have a solid lead in the first half. Dixon applied plenty of defensive pressure and Darby Wileman’s speed along the base line and ability to score confirmed Echuca’s outstanding performance for the weekend running out undefeated and win the grand final 30-18.
Under 14 B girls
With two tournaments under their belts and some great training sessions with coach Matt Clark the under 14 B girls came out in their first game against Wangaratta Warriors with a great performance. They combined together and showed all the hard yards were starting to pay off.
A great display of teamwork and combinations earned them a great start, winning 24-5. The girls continued to display some great teamwork, winning 3 from 4 games over the weekend.
They faced a loss against Shepparton Gators (27-7) and wins over Mansfield Eagles (18-9) and Yarrawonga-Mulwala Lakers (21-4).
Growing with every game, the girls placed second overall in their Division behind the Shepparton Gators.
Under 14 A girls
The Troy O’Brien coached under 14 girls enjoyed a challenging hit out at the Wangaratta basketball tournament.
All four games saw the girls up against bigger and more experienced opponents but didn’t diminish their competitive spirits.
The score lines failed to reflect the many scoring opportunities the girls produced and under the coaching guidance of O’Brien and Lucy Eishold and the team work and understanding of the game had rapidly grown.
Finella O’Brien and Hetti Jones provided great offensive drives. Kara Vanderline’s game was full of tenacity and Ashlee Cleary and Tilley Candy produced strong defensive rebounds and great movement in the D.
Under 18 B girls
The tournament delivered great triumph for the Echuca Pirates under 18 B girls with the team walking away undefeated.
A successful game against Benalla gave the girls their first win for the season and them the confidence needed to bring home the gold.
Amee Hardess read play spectacularly and was able to assist her team mates and control space accordingly, while Emmerson Simpson, Emma Quilliam and Jess Gould proved valuable scorers.
Bec Huismann performed well, showing some great defensive skills against a tough Yarrawonga-Mulwala team.
Bonni McKay and Bec Eade were both strong under the ring which aided the team in their win against Rochester.
In the grand final against Yarrawonga-Mulwala the team capitalised on their strengths and ability to work as one and were able to draw a number of fouls against the opposition.
The girls took advantage of their time at the line with the final score being 13-39.
Echuca Basketball Association
ECHUCA basketballers will see the final sessions of Aussie hoops and under 10s for 2016 this afternoon.
The A grade women will play their grand final tomorrow night from 6.30pm at St Joseph’s College due to the stadium being booked for another event.
Echuca Basketball Association committee and referee convenor would like to wish the basketball community a happy, healthy and safe Christmas and New Year and look forward to all members returning in 2017.
Monday night competition will resume February 6, Wednesday night Aussie hoops and under 10s will resume February 8 and the Thursday night competition will resume February 2.