THE Victorian Bushrangers enjoyed a big win over the Tasmanian Devils in the fourth round of the under 18 girls category at the Australian Country Junior Basketball Cup yesterday.
While the 40-degree heat made it unbearable outside, the Bushrangers remained cool and collected as they ran out 84-52 winners over the Devils.
The Bushrangers sprang out of the blocks and raced to a 21-8 lead at quarter time before the Tasmanians steadily began fighting their way back into the match.
The Devils would have been hopeful heading into the final quarter only being eight points down, but it didn’t take long for the Bushrangers to put the game beyond doubt.
The Victorians looked to be fitter than their counterparts.
As the Devils’ defence began to slow, the Bushrangers were allowed some easy lay-ups and scored 32 points in the final quarter to the Devils’ eight.
“It was a good win,” Bushrangers coach Tony Jones said.
“Tassie put a lot of high court pressure on us, but as the game went on we started to open them up and that’s when our opportunities came.
“I think our girls were a bit fitter so we were able to run the ball a bit more.
“Once we were in the ring we were pretty good at converting.”
Tasmanian coach John Fox highlighted the emergence of Ellie Collins, 15.
Collins played up and down the court and was consistently able to use her body to out-muscle her opponents when she had the ball.
“Ellie’s the youngest in our team and has only just turned 15,” Fox said.
“She can play inside, she can play outside, and she really understands the game.”
Fox conceded his team would struggle to make the playoffs, citing mainly their inability to play out whole matches.
“We played how we’ve been playing all week — in patches,” Fox said.
“We had a slow start, got back in it, and then it blew out again.
“We’ve also had a nine-point loss and a six-point loss, and if we had been consistent in those earlier games then we wouldn’t have tired ourselves chasing the game after that.”
“When you’re in front you’re able to cruise a little bit, but we’ve been chasing down 20 point leads and that’s when fatigue starts to play a big part.”
It was a similar outcome in the match between the NSW Waratahs and the New Zealand Kea.
The Waratahs were able to get on top of their Kiwi opponents from the beginning of the match, eventually winning 49-25.
Waratahs coach Reece Potter said his girls did well to apply pressure for the entire game.
“We played pretty scrappy, but that’s the way you tend to play against New Zealand,” Potter said.
“They play scrappy and hard, and really make you earn it.
“We did well to get the win, and now we’ll move on and hopefully defeat South Australia tomorrow and finish on the top of our pool.”
Kea coach Rachel Gwerder was proud of how much improvement her team had made in the past couple of days.
“They’re advancing as they go along,” Gwerder said.
“They’ve already shown a lot of improvement and ... are beginning to make good decisions.”