A composite under-16s boys side featuring some of the Border’s best young basketballers is relishing the experience at the Australian Country Basketball Cup.
Albury-Wodonga came close to its first victory of the week, going down 47-36 to New Zealand Weka at Lauren Jackson Sports Centre on Wednesday.
New Zealand led 28-15 at half-time, but the Albury-Wodonga boys weren’t going to be pushed aside.
The deficit got to as much as 21 points, but an 11-0 run to finish the third term gave Albury-Wodonga all the momentum heading into the last, trailing 24-34.
New Zealand hit back with the first basket of the final quarter, and, while Albury-Wodonga got as close as eight points, they had too much ground to make up.
Hugh Black, Thomas Rowland and Tyler Barker all finished with six points, while Ben Hernan and Aidan Stelfox scored five.
Coach Matthew Whitfield has been pleased with the effort of the players.
“Playing at this level, you find out about your fundamentals and how good they are,” he said.
“It’s about testing yourself against the best players and that’s what the boys have got the opportunity to do.
“The boys getting the opportunity to play together from both the Albury and Wodonga community and outside that as well, to actually get them together is really good.
“They should be trying as hard as they can and that’s what we want.”
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Albury-Wodonga’s under-16 boys outfit is one of two invitational sides from the Border at this year’s event, with another in the under-18 girls event.
“The opportunity to compete at this level and for these guys to show their determination and effort is fantastic,” Whitfield said.
“I’m very proud of the kids and they’re very lucky to have it.
“If we’re incrementally improving throughout the week, that’s a great thing for our kids.
“We hope they are enjoying it and taking some feedback from coaches like Shane Black, who has played numerous amounts of Bandits games.
“Being able to have these local coaches and the passion around the local area to drive all this type of stuff is fantastic.
“We’ve got three or four more games left, so if we can continually improve throughout the week, hopefully we can get a win.”
Albury-Wodonga put up a good fight against the Victorian Bushrangers on Wednesday morning, clawing back the deficit late in the game in the 80-47 defeat.
The side has taken a giant leap since its 95-43 loss to the South Australia Magpies on Monday and an 85-50 defeat against the Tasmania Kangaroos on Tuesday.
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