AUSTRALIAN UNDER-16 CHAMPIONSHIPS PREVIEW- POOL B GIRLS
Six teams make up Pool B for the girls at the 2019 Australian Under-16 Championships with heavyweights NSW Metro and Vic Country headlining the pool amongst a multitude of challengers that will make this group hotly contested.
Team List: Carla Pitman, Jurnee-A’mour Straker, Sari Mowbray, Felicity Henderson, Rose Nelson, Alexandra Kayrouz, Peggy Schell, Tenayah Logan, Jada Crawshaw, Ella Leasuasu
NSW Metro fell in the bronze medal game last year to Qld North, suffering their heaviest defeat and recording their lowest score in an otherwise superb tournament. Rose Nelson, Carla Pitman, Tenayah Logan and Felicity Henderson return from that team and will be keen for redemption with that added experience compared to most other teams sure to help their cause. Henderson is one of the players to watch out of the whole competition after she put up 9.7 points and 8.7 rebounds per game last year but Logan (9.7 points, 2.3 steals) and Pitman (five points, 2.8 assists) will also be crucial to their chances.
Key Game: That defeat to Qld North in the 2018 bronze medal game is sure to be a point of contention for NSW Metro and a group stage clash between the two teams on the afternoon of Day 4 will be one to watch out for.
Team List: Isabella Mulcahy, Andria Heard, Kaitlin West, Madison Hill, Felicity Crotty, Paris Santacaterina, Hayley Olding, Phoebe Holmes, Lilly-May Walker, Kaitlin Henaway
Breaking a more than 20-year drought at last year’s Under-16 Championships by winning the bronze medal, Qld North now face the challenge of backing up that performance or, ideally, improving with a silver or gold medal. Kaitlin Henaway will be aiming for back-to-back medals as the sole returning player and she will be aided by the likes of Madison Hill who is a three-point specialist, Andria Heard who won Shield Division silver with the Cairns Dolphins at last year’s Under-14 Club Championships and Kaitlin West who averaged nine points per game at that tournament.
Key Game: Qld North finished on a high note in 2018 as they got the better of NSW Metro in the bronze medal playoff but the day before, they fell to Vic Country by 19 points in the Semi-Final. They meet the Pool B favourites in the group stage this year on Day 2 and will get a good idea of where they stand in 2019 following that clash.
Team List: Awur Ajak, Tayla Brazel, Izzy Borlase, Chloe Dumesny, Mia Walker-Roberts, Jemma Tredrea, Jessica Simons, Kaitlin Rowe, Alessandra Garcia, Ellie Janssen-Holton
Cutting an imposing figure, 193cm Awur Ajak stands as the tallest player at this year’s Under-16 Championships. It will be interesting to see if SA Metro can utilise Ajak’s rim protection and length in the paint as she makes her Junior Championships debut. Mia Walker-Roberts is another SA Metro prospect to keep an eye on after she averaged double-figures in scoring during the 2018 Under-14 Club Championships for Sturt while Chloe Dumesny had a high-score of 28 points on her way to 16.5 points per game at the 2017 Under-14’s. In addition, Jessica Simons and Tayla Brazel bring experience from last year’s Under-16’s campaign.
Key Game: A likely Quarter-Finalist out of Pool B, SA Metro have finished fourth and fifth over the past two years respectively. Last year, their run came to a premature end with a Quarter-Final loss to NSW Metro and when they meet them again on Day 3, they will be out for redemption. A victory in that clash would also open up their top two chances in Pool B which would give them a nice run through the finals.
Team List: Claire Ransom, Chloe Kitto, Olivia Harman, Zoe Banks, Rubi Gray, Macey Crawford, Jasmine Ashlin, Charli Kay, Stephanie Clarke, Taya Webb
Making the trek from the most southerly state to one of the most northern parts of the country, Tasmania will need to acclimatise quickly if they want to make some noise in Pool B. It is a tough group but Tasmania are loaded with experience as four players return from last year’s Under-16’s. Charli Kay and Chloe Kitto will come back hungry, Zoe Banks proved herself as a three-point threat while her defence alongside Taya Webb will be a crucial aspect of their team once again. Macey Crawford and Rubi Gray make the jump from Under-14’s after competing together for the North West Tasmania Devils where Crawford finished in the top 15 for scoring with 11.3 points per contest.
Key Game: Tasmania were unable to get on the winners list last year but came agonisingly close with a two-point loss to WA Country in the group stage. Their pressure was immense but they were unable to make the most of their opportunities from the three-point line. Bringing that same intensity could see Tasmania reverse the outcome from 2018 when they meet on the last day before Quarter-Finals.
Team List: Myah Healey, Rosie Todd, Isabel Whitelaw, Dallas Loughridge, Erin Condron, Dyani Ananiev, Milly Sharp, Bella Breen, Sienna Privitera, Georgia Koopmans
Vic Country have been so close yet so far from the gold medal over the past two seasons after falling to their intra-state counterparts, Vic Metro, by eight points in 2018 and 14 points in 2017. Silver medals are still a fantastic achievement but Vic Country will be desperate to reach the top of the podium this year. They cannot look too far ahead though with Pool B offering up a number of challengers in NSW Metro and SA Metro in particular. Isabel Whitelaw comes into the team on the back of a strong Under-14’s that saw her win Shield Division bronze with Altona and average ten points per game while Dyani Ananiev is another potential game-winner after starring offensively during the 2019 BVC Junior Championships.
Key Game: Perhaps their biggest rival in Pool B, Vic Country face an important match-up against NSW Metro on the final day of the group stage. Looking beyond that, Vic Country will be eyeing another potential gold medal playoff against Vic Metro.
Team List: Katie Duncan, Kaitlyn Srhoj, Amity Parsons, Jamie Skeggs, Abbey Winterbine, Sydney Meares, Abbi Baynes, Tori Ranson, Abbey Hall, Leah York
With a healthy balance of newcomers and three returning players from the 2018 Under-16’s, WA Country have some offensive firepower that has the ability to worry opposition teams in Pool B. Leah York, Tori Ranson (who averaged just under seven boards per game last year) and Jaime Skeggs who put up six points per game and is having a strong season in the WABL for Mandurah will provide expertise from their previous Under-16’s campaign. A couple of other Mandurah Magic players in Katie Duncan and Sydney Meares have graduated from the Under-14’s and will provide a scoring boost after they combined for more than 20 points per game at last year’s competition.
Key Game: WA Country’s nearest rivals in Pool B look to be Tasmania and after they secured a nail-biting two-point victory over them in the group stage last year, they will be aiming to back up that performance again in 2019.
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