Hot Kookas, Tahs the teams to beat

THE two NSW teams are in ominous form heading into the finals of the under-18 boys Australian Country Junior Basketball Cup.

The Kookaburras and the Waratahs are the only teams to have gone undefeated throughout the first five rounds of the competition, with both finishing on top of their pool.

The Waratahs have scored 396 points from their five games, the highest in the competition, and have also conceded the least with 214 points.

The Kookaburras are right behind them on the tally, having scored 380 points and conceded only 219.

In the final pool games yesterday morning the Kookaburras defeated the New Zealand Kea 62-58 in what was a tough hitout for both teams, while the Waratahs were too strong for the South Australian Sharks, cruising to a well-deserved 81-55 win.

Kookaburras coach Adam Marjoram said his boys had showed good fight throughout the week.

“We never get ahead of ourselves but it’s good to finish on top of our pool,” he said.

“New Zealand hit big shots all game and you can’t get away from that.

“Our guys just poured into the D in the last quarter and brought it home with some really important defensive intensity.”

Kea coach Gerard Mullin said his team showed they could match it with the best.

“We’ve only had one win over the Tasmanian Devils, so I was really impressed with how we matched up defensively and with how much belief they had in themselves,” he said.

“I was really pleased.

“There was much improvement in our offence, but we can still work on knowing how to better defend on ball screens.”

In other matches, the Victorian Goldminers recorded a massive win over the hapless Tasmanian Tigers, running out 102-39 victors.

A huge second half from the Goldminers kept the Tigers to only 13 points, while their offence ran riot to net 54 points in the process.

The New Zealand Koru and Victorian Settlers were both winless going into their encounter, and neither wanted to finish the competition with zero points.

The game was always close and no one was able to create a meaningful breakaway as it went down to the wire.

The Koru were up by three points with a minute to go, and despite the desperate efforts of the Settlers, eventually held on for a 50-44 win.

In the final under-18 game, the South Australian Magpies couldn’t match it with the Victorian Bushrangers, going down 54-75.

The semi-finals of the Country Junior Basketball Cup will be held later today, with the gold medal matches being played tomorrow at the Lauren Jackson Sports Centre.