This year’s U16’s Australian Junior Championships are in its latter stages, with the semifinals set to take place throughout Friday’s action.
We preview both the Men’s and Women’s matchups, in what’s sure to be an exciting day of basketball.
NSW Country vs Queensland North | 2pm
Coming into the tournament as defending champions, NSW Country is looking as good as ever. They’re undefeated so far in the tournament, and will be hoping to exhibit their usual grit as they face a talented Queensland North side.
Queensland North has also put forward an impressive tournament, to date. Led by big-man Sam Froling, they managed to squeak past a tough New Zealand side, en route to this semi final matchup.
NSW Country will look to get some quality play from their point guard, Lachlan Dent. Dent was a key member of last year’s Championship winning NSW Country squad, and he’s brought that same leadership to this year’s team. The 6’0 point guard has made improvements with every game he’s played this week, showing why he’s been selected to the final camp for this year’s Australian U17 squad.
Sam Froling – younger brother of Harry, Alicia and Keely – opened the tournament with a big performance, and has proved to be a consistent force on the low block. Sporting a growth spurt – putting him at around 6’9 – Froling will need to impose himself in the paint, whilst also getting help from the likes of Ryan Runnalls and Frazer Roberts.
Controlling the front-court for NSW Country will be Brandon Freire, who’s had a great all-round tournament, thus far. Sitting in the back-end of the rotation for last year’s NSW Country side, Freire has emerged into a key contributor for this year’s squad, and will be extremely important against Queensland Norths front-court.
NSW Country: Lachlan Dent (15.7 ppg, 4.4 rpg, 2.4 apg), Brandon Freire (11.9 ppg, 7 rpg)
QLD North: Sam Froling (16.9 ppg, 10.7 rpg), Aiden Krause (10.7 ppg, 3.3 rpg)
VIC Metro vs Queensland South | 6pm
VIC Metro has had a relatively easy route to the semifinals, but they’ve shown that they have the size and depth to go all the way in this tournament. After defeating their Country counterparts in the quarterfinals, they face a tough Queensland South squad, who have two of the most productive players on the week – Callum Dalton and Nick Stoddart.
Interestingly, VIC Metro’s most effective player has come off the bench for the entire week. Keli Leaupepe has been extremely explosive for VIC Metro, coming off the bench to provide some solid production inside the paint. He doesn’t have the height to matchup with Dalton – who is the second leading scorer in the tournament – but his energy, alone, will make life difficult for Queensland South’s front-court star.
Along with Dalton, Queensland South will be hoping to get another big performance from Nick Stoddart. Proving to be one of the most explosive guards in the tournament, Stoddart’s perimeter game – which has improved immensely over the past year – will need to remain on-point for Queensland South to compete in this matchup.
VIC Metro: Keli Leaupepe (14.9 ppg, 9 rpg), Tyler Robertson (12.4 ppg, 6.1 rpg)
QLD South: Callum Dalton (21.7 ppg, 9.6 rpg), Nick Stoddart (18.6 ppg, 4.9 rpg)
VIC Country vs Queensland South
Queensland South is back in the latter stages of this tournament after an impressive 2nd place finish at last year’s event. They’ll face VIC Country, who are coming off a blowout win over SA Country and are looking as strong as ever.
VIC Country’s guard duo of Chelsea D’Angelo and Jazmin Shelley have been a force throughout the tournament. Shelley, in particular, has been outstanding, showing an impressive all-round game – leading the tournament in assists. Both D’Angelo and Shelley have been selected to the Australian U17 Women’s squad training camp, and will be hoping to carry their great form over to the rest of the tournament.
D’Angelo and Shelley will be matching up against Queensland South’s back court of Jessica McDowell-White and Miela Goodchild, both of whom have carried their great performances from last year into this year’s tournament. Queensland South also has the luxury of having a quality guard come off the bench for them, with Shyla Heal providing some great minutes throughout the week.
VIC Country: Chelsea D’Angelo (15.1 ppg, 7.3 rpg), Jazmin Shelley (13.6 ppg, 4.7 rpg, 4.6 apg)
QLD South: Miela Goodchild (14 ppg, 6.14 rpg), Shyla Heal (12 ppg, 6 rpg)
VIC Metro vs SA Metro
The 2014 defending champions, SA Metro, are in position to duplicate last year’s outstanding run, but they’ll gave to get past a tough VIC Metro squad, whose depth has proved to be too much as they remain undefeated in the tournament.
Just like their male counterparts, the women’s VIC Metro squad relies on it’s depth, as opposed to relying on any individual. Madeline Puli has put together an impressive tournament on both ends of the floor, while Cassidy Gould has also been effective, doing the majority of her work inside the paint.
SA Metro has brought much of last year’s core to this year’s tournament, and they’ve flourished, thus far, only dropping one game this week. Samantha Simons was SA Metro’s most productive player during last year’s championship run and she continues to dominate – leading the tournament in points. Darcy Rees was also a key player last year, coming off the bench for that squad. This year, however, she’s been inserted into the starting lineup and is flouring with her increased role.
VIC Metro: Madeline Puli (11 ppg, 7.7 rpg), Cassidy Gould (9.7 ppg, 5.7 rpg)
SA Metro: Samantha Simons (17 ppg, 4.3 rpg), Darcy Rees (7.4 ppg, 7.4 rpg, 3 apg)