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Round 2 was particularly kind for the two NSW teams in the men’s under-18 category of the Australian Country Junior Basketball Cup yesterday, with both teams securing important wins over their Victorian rivals.
The NSW Kookaburras defeated the Victorian Bushrangers 62-54, while the Waratahs defeated the Goldminers 44-42 in a thrilling encounter at the Lauren Jackson Sports Centre.
The match between the Goldminers and Waratahs was a tight affair throughout, with only five points separating the two teams at half-time.
In the third quarter Victoria came out guns blazing, scoring 13 points and fighting its way back into contention to only be down 39-38 going into the final quarter.
Neither team could find the net enough to break away, and after a huge three-pointer from the Goldminers the score was tied at 42-42 going into the final minute.
The Waratahs called a timeout with 11 seconds left on the clock, and after the restart, passed the ball off to 16-year old Jayden Hodgson in the corner of the court.
As the sirens, shoe squeaks and whistle blasts created a cacophony of noise in the stadium, Hodgson remained calm to shoot a clutch basket from just inside the three-point line.
“When it went in I just let out this massive sigh of relief,” Hodgson said.
“I was so happy — all I could do was smile.
“For us to win the game after that was just an amazing feeling.”
Victoria had one final chance to steal the win with a massive half court short that could only hit the backboard.
Waratahs coach Josh Cohen said he would need to tighten his defence to prevent the next couple of games from going down to the wire.
“I’m always happy to get the win, but there were a couple of things that let us down that we’ll have to work on,” he said.
“There were a couple of times we over committed and allowed them to penetrate which permitted them to take a couple of jumpshots.
“That really hurt us, because if we contain the ball and make everything contested it might not have even been a two-point game.”
Next door the Kookaburras had a more comfortable win over the Bushrangers.
While the match was fairly close, the Kookaburras always appeared to have the upper hand, eventually running out eight-point winners.
“There’s a good rivalry between the two states so it’s always good to get a win over them,” Kookaburras captain Sean Cranney said.
“The Vics played a very solid defensive game and made it very tough for us to score, but then there were some patches where we played really good and that’s what got us the win.
“That’s about as good as it gets over the Victorians.”
Despite defeating the Victorian Settlers in the first round as well, Kookaburras coach Adam Marjoram said his team wasn’t going to get ahead of itself.
“It’s been a good start to the tournament,” he said.
“We’ve had a few wins against some of the Victorian sides now so that’s always good, and it puts us into good stead for the rest of the week.”
In the other round 2 matches the South Australian Magpies defeated the New Zealand Koru 71-53, the Tasmanian Tigers scraped home against the Settlers 66-65, and the Sharks were too strong for the Kea, winning 82-68.