UNDER-18 CHAMPIONSHIPS AND KEVIN COOMBS CUP PREVIEW- ACT
Under-18 Men’s Team List: Alex Archer, Dhal Fieg, James Gorddard, Ethan Jetter, Zac McDermott, Harrison Matthew, Gabrielle Selino, Kade Tomsic, Henry Wallace, Angus Williams.
A familiar team will represent the ACT men at this year’s Championships with several members of the team having risen through the ranks together and they will be hoping that established comradery will help them in the early stages of the tournament.
“The team’s preparation has been outstanding and we are excited about the group,” said Phil Brown, Basketball ACT Head of High Performance and Coaching.
“We should be effective in transition going both ways and we are optimistic that we can at least make the Quarter-Finals.”
Alex Archer and James Gorddard will bring experience to the team having played at the Under-18’s last year when Archer averaged 4.8 points per game as well as 1.7 steals.
He will be joined by Harrison Matthew out on the perimeter who is coming off a very impressive 2017 Under-16 campaign, recording 12.6 points, 7.4 rebounds and 2.3 assists per contest.
“Although we’re not that big, we have great length through players like Alex and Harrison and they are also solid ball handlers while everyone on the team is an exceptional athlete.”
Henry Wallace will be a key piece of the puzzle at both ends of the floor, despite being one of the younger members of the team, with his quick hands and pure shot both legitimate assets.
The men will be coached by Ben White, an ex-SEABL player who came out of the USA college system before settling in Australia.
“Ben has a lot of experience coaching at club level in Canberra and most recently at the 2017 Under-14 Club Championships,” said Brown.
“This is his first head coaching gig of a state team but he and assistant coach Jarryd Heywood have done a great job in preparing this team to be the best they can be.”
Under-18 Women’s Team List: Sophie Anderson, Kassidy Fox, Madeleine Hunt, Natasha Lyall, Clare Newton, Zoe Ramshaw, Catherine Smith, Pyper Thornberry, Maddison Wheatley, Mikala Williams.
The ACT women will have a similar advantage to the men, having come up through the Under-16’s as well as the Under-14 Club Championships while a few players are also part of the National Performance Program (NPP).
Clare Newton and Mikala Williams competed at last year’s Under-18 Champs and both averaged 6.3 points per game while proving their capabilities from beyond the arc with 14 combined three-pointers.
They are also members of the Canberra Capitals Academy team in SEABL where they will be gaining knowledge and experience under players such as Keely Froling and Kate Gaze.
“We are not overly big which is an ACT trait unfortunately but with Newton and Williams leading the team alongside Pyper Thornberry, it is a very capable team,” said Brown.
Thornberry has been invited to past Basketball Australia Athlete Development Camps too as she remains on the national radar while she averaged a near double-double at the Under-16’s last year with 12 points, 9.1 rebounds and 1.3 steals.
“The Under-18 women will also be coached by Jenny Lonergan, who has relocated from Sydney,” said Brown.
“Jenny has a long history in NSW Metro basketball and we’re excited to have her leading the team. She will make them play hard for sure.
“The Under-18’s is the blue-ribbon event of Australian junior basketball. Looking at the history of the tournament and the Boomers and Opals that have come through it as well as the players that have gone on to US colleges, it is a major part of ACT’s high-performance program.
“This is the key benchmark event for the year.”
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