UNDER-18 CHAMPIONSHIPS AND KEVIN COOMBS CUP PREVIEW- NT
Under-18 Men’s Team List: Dante Ahsam, Lewis Birch, Will Burton, Bayden Franey, Matthew Jap, Logan Law, Dirk Lawrie, Jaycin McQueen-Bryers, Kane Raddock, James Toohey.
Northern Territory have pulled together their roster with eight Darwin based athletes combining with two players from Alice Springs. As Basketball NT High Performance & Development Manager Rob Tremlett explained, bringing players together from those different areas is always NT’s biggest challenge.
“We have constant communication between Darwin and the Alice and our head coach, Steve Toohey, has the task of ensuring the players are cognisant of the playbook.”
Toohey is an experienced coach who led the Under-14 Darwin Cyclones to the bronze medal playoff at last year’s Australian School Championships.
This year, he will coach his son in James Toohey who is the only returning player from NT’s 2017 Under-18’s team, when he averaged 6.1 points per game while shooting 34% from beyond the arc.
“We have a small group and with six bottom-agers, they are young as well,” Tremlett said. “But they are very talented and should be quick so we are hoping to utilise our speed.”
Jaycin McQueen-Bryers is one of those players NT will be looking at to push the pace after he averaged double-figures per game in the Alice Springs Basketball Association men’s league. In the front court, they will need Dirk Lawrie (186cm) to stand tall while Dante Ahsam and Bayden Franey will be aiming to impress in their first Championships.
Under-18 Women’s Team List: Molly Althouse, Dominique Carbone, Mikaella Desamito, Haven Hohipa-Wilson, Taryla Fishook, Tullaha Jeffrey, Kaylah Motlop, Timika Pon, April Rummery Lamb, Leah Seden.
In a similar situation to the men’s team, the NT’s Under-18 women consist of eight players who hail from Darwin and two from Alice Springs as well as six bottom-agers joining four top-age players. However, Molly Althouse is developing her game in a Division 1 league in Adelaide and averaging 12.5 points and 8.3 rebounds per game while Haven Hohipa-Wilson is playing in Logan where she is averaging 6.8 points per game.
With those two players leading the charge, NT’s back court has impressed Tremlett through their preparation for the Under-18 Championships.
“The guard group is particularly talented. A number of them have been playing at senior level in the territory which will stand them in good stead.”
Boosting their forward stocks, April Rummery Lamb will be a player to watch at the tournament as a 189cm centre. Dominating in the Darwin Basketball Assocation, Rummery Lamb was injured right before last year’s Under-16 Championships which ruled her out for the entire week so she will be aiming to make up for lost time in 2018.
In addition, NT were unable to send a women’s team to the competition last year but with both men and women again represented this year, Tremlett is looking forward to the tournament.
“It is really important to be able to send two teams,” he said.
“It was very disappointing to not have the depth to send a women’s team in 2017 but we have worked particularly hard to get two strong teams this year and we are really pleased to see the girls working hard.”
An assistant coach at last year’s Championships, Dan East will now assume the reins for the women’s team in his first foray as a head coach.
Tremlett believes he will lead the team to success in what he knows is an important juncture for the athletes.
“The Under-18’s provides an opportunity to get exposure to national coaches and it’s a great opportunity for not just the players but for the coaches to show what they can do as well as being in NT, we are fairly isolated from the rest of Australia.
“Without the chance of something like the Under-18’s, a player such as Abby Cubillo, who was the starting point guard in the Australian Under-17 World Championship winning team, would never get to be seen.”
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