Wodonga Wolves continue to produce junior talent for national tournaments

STATE DUTIES: Wodonga Wolves' juniors (front) Sandhya Thapa, Evie Hughes, Tahli Smith, Casey Ardern, (back) Riley Gill, Christine Oguche, Katelyn Russell and Josh Ivic have all made country Victoria teams. Picture: JAMES WILTSHIRE
STATE DUTIES: Wodonga Wolves' juniors (front) Sandhya Thapa, Evie Hughes, Tahli Smith, Casey Ardern, (back) Riley Gill, Christine Oguche, Katelyn Russell and Josh Ivic have all made country Victoria teams. Picture: JAMES WILTSHIRE

Eight Wodonga Wolves juniors have been selected to represent country Victoria in national tournaments next year.

Tahli Smith, Christine Oguche (under 14 girls), Josh Ivic (under 14 boys), Katelyn Russell and Sandhya Thapa (under 15 girls) will all be involved in the Southern Cross Challenge at the State Basketball Centre in Melbourne from January 19 to 22.

The athletes in the Southern Cross Challenge will compete against Victoria metro, WA metro, SA metro, SA Country and ACT who are the top 20 players in the state for their age group.

Evie Hughes (under 14 girls), Riley Gill (under 14 boys) and Casey Ardern (under 18 girls) are competing at the Australian Country Junior Basketball Cup in Albury-Wodonga from January 14 to January 20.

Opponents include WA country, SA country, NSW country and New Zealand – the 20 to 40 top athletes in their respective states.

Wolves’ junior representative coordinator Paul Green said it is important the association continues to provide its juniors the opportunities to explore these pathways.

“We generally do pretty well each year, we’ve got a pretty strong program,” Green said.

“We’ve got to be like that because geographically we’re at the end of Victoria and all the major junior competitions are played in Melbourne on a Friday night.”

Green added the ultimate goal is to promote as many juniors as they can through to the region’s top teams.

“We’re fortunate we have a good senior competition where they can step up to with our CBL Wodonga Wolves and the Albury-Wodonga Bandits in the SEABL, which is the second highest level in Australia,” he said.

“We’ve got less numbers so we’re more of a chance to get these kids to play at that level rather than going through the cup process.

“They’re more under the microscope, so we can identify talent and train them up to play for Jim (Wilson) with the Lady Bandits and Brad (Chalmers) with the Bandits.”

Ardern, 15, is an example of that, making her debut for the Lady Bandits this season, despite only standing at 165 centimetres tall.

“She’s a small guard, but when you’ve got a high IQ, height doesn’t come into it as much,” Green said.