Bushies may be down to 8 for Sharks battle

VICTORIAN Bushrangers under-16 boys coach Mark Tidd fears he may have to play a cut-throat final with just eight fit players.

The Bushies secured second spot in Pool 2 yesterday after downing the South Australian Magpies 71-34 on court No. 3 at Lauren Jackson Sports Centre.

They will play the South Australian Sharks in a qualifying final in Wodonga today but, instead of having 10 fit players to choose from, Tidd expects to have only eight, meaning he will have to limit his bench rotations.

“We’ve got a couple of boys who are carrying injuries,” Tidd said yesterday.

“We’ll just play with eight if we have to.

“We played with eight yesterday arvo and still did OK.

“They should be fine by tomorrow, hopefully.”

The Bushies had little trouble winning their fourth game of the tournament to secure second spot behind the NSW Kookaburras.

The Magpies finished the group fourth, with the Tasmanian Devils third and New Zealand Koru fifth.

In today’s other matches, the Victorian Goldminers face the Devils, the NSW Waratahs clash with the Magpies, the NSW Kookaburras host New Zealand Kea and the Tasmanian Tigers face New Zealand Koru.

While it was a comfortable win for the Bushies, Riley Hatcher and Kody Watts provided plenty of highlights for the Magpies, with Watts using his height, and the boards, to his advantage.

Tidd wasn’t completely satisfied with the performance, saying there was room to improve.

“Our defence is going all right but we need a bit more clarity down the offensive end when we are down there so we are not running into the wrong holes,” he said.

“It was good to come back after yesterday’s loss to NSW.

“It will leave us at second and we’ll have the other South Australian team in the quarter-finals tomorrow morning.

“Hopefully we can beat them.”

Tidd said the title was up for grabs.

“If you’re not on your game you will drop a game,” he said.

“The top four teams are probably a step above but once you hit the finals, there will be some good basketball played.”

Tidd, from the Mornington Peninsula, said he had been to several tournaments here but not for more than a decade.

“I had family commitments and those sorts of things but I’m getting back into it now again,” he said.

“It’s a great tournament.”