UNDER-18 CHAMPIONSHIPS PREVIEW- ACT
Under-18 Men’s ACT Team List:
Samuel Bates, Daniel Busing, Robert Emelifeonwu, Mamadou Fall, Harrison Matthew, Charlie Mellick, Charlie Potter, Jake Saunders, Henry Wallace, Airi Wolff.
Coming off a Quarter-Final performance at last year’s Under-18 Australian Championships, ACT are now aiming to take it a step further in 2019.
“Last year we finished top four in our pool so our goal is to once again give ourselves a shot at the Quarter-Finals and hopefully deliver a better performance,” said ACT men’s coach Ben White.
Returning for their second Under-18 tournament, Henry Wallace and Harrison Matthew were a part of last year’s team with Matthew (12.1 points per game) pacing them for scoring while Wallace averaged over a steal per game with his best performance coming against NT when he had 14 points, three rebounds, two assists and two steals.
While the rest of the team will be new to the Under-18’s experience, they do have a familiarity with each other as a majority of the side travelled on Basketball ACT’s High Performance tour of the USA in late 2018.
“That trip enabled the boys to implement our structure and style of play while developing chemistry with each other,” said White.
“One of the benefits of being a smaller state is that it gives us the opportunity to train together on a weekly basis and spend plenty of time together before heading to the Championships.”
At 197cm, Airi Wolff is a player to watch for the upcoming tournament and will play a crucial role around the ring for ACT.
Averaging a near double-double at last year’s Under-16’s, Wolff capped off a great week with 18 points, 17 rebounds, seven steals and a block against WA Country and that presence in the paint as well as rim protection will be key to the team’s chances this year.
Oppositions will also have to be wary of Jake Saunders, who showcased his impressive three-point shot at the 2018 Under-16’s, finishing equal-tenth in the competition with ten makes overall.
Under-18 Women’s ACT Team List:
Emmersyn Clarke, Keeley Dunbar, Alexandra Gorddard, Chloe Hope, Natasha Lyall, Hayley MacDonald, Kelsy Maher, Abby Solway, Pyper Thornberry, Maddison Wheatley.
ACT will bring back a familiar team for this year’s tournament with Natasha Lyall, Pyper Thornberry and Maddison Wheatley all returning from the 2018 Under-18’s.
Thornberry was outstanding last year, averaging close to a double-double with 10.9 points and 9.3 rebounds per game.
“Pyper, Natasha and Maddie’s leadership will be important for us,” said Head Coach Jenny Lonergan.
“All three have been terrific leaders in the early part of our preparation and it will be exciting to see how the promising bottom-age players perform.
“Our group has a nice blend of back-court and perimeter speed with strength on the interior.
“We showed signs at the East Coast Challenge that we can be disruptive defensively and play unselfishly at the offensive end.”
Keeley Dunbar and Abby Solway hit double-digits in scoring at the 2018 Under-16’s and Dunbar was impressive at both ends of the floor, averaging 10.2 points, 5.6 rebounds and 2.4 steals per game.
“The players are excited about the challenge of competing on the national stage and we are confident of representing Basketball ACT well,” said Lonergan.
“Our goal is to ensure we qualify for the quarter-finals and it is a whole new tournament from that point.”
In the lead-up to the Under-18 Championships and Kevin Coombs Cup held in Townsville from April 13-20, we preview the teams from all eight state and territories, continuing with ACT.
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