We’re down to the final day of Australian Junior Championship basketball, with just two teams left in each division.
The Men’s championship game will see VIC Metro face Queensland North, while the Women’s championship game features defending champions SA Metro take on a talented Queensland South side.
VIC Metro vs Queensland North | 7pm
VIC Metro has stepped up their game toward the end of this tournament, playing with an increased level of energy as they look to continue the winning culture that seems to be intrinsic with junior Victorian squads. Queensland North, on the other hand, are relative newcomers to success in the junior men’s level, so this game is the perfect opportunity to make a statement.
One of the biggest factors heading into this matchup is the battle of the big-men. Both squads boast some of the most talented big-men in the tournament, with VIC Metro’s Austin Bradtke and Queensland North’s Sam Froling likely to be matched up against each other for the majority of the game. Froling has shown an impressive all-round game throughout the tournament, while Bradtke has had flashes of brilliance over the week.
Tyler Robertson, who was extremely impressive in VIC Metro semifinal victory over Queensland North – posting 17 points, 11 rebounds and 7 assists – will also look to play a big role in this game. Robertson has played with great versatility throughout the week, exhibiting a court awareness that is well beyond his years.
Apart from Froling, Queensland North will look to get production from Aiden Krause. As one of the most efficient guards in the tournament, Krause has done the majority of his work inside the paint. It’ll be important for him to remain aggressive, and look to attack this relatively small VIC Metro side.
VIC Metro’s depth may be the factor that sends them over the line, with their bench proving to be extremely productive throughout the tournament. Keli Leaupepe and Tarjai Hepi have been consistent for VIC Metro throughout the week – providing an abundance of energy and toughness off the bench. Queensland North’s bench, although not as consistent, can still provide a big lift for them, with the perimeter shooting of Riley Clarke and Sam Haughton likely to be big factors through the game.
SA Metro vs Queensland South | 5pm
Last year, we saw SA Metro win the U16’s Australian Junior Championship for the first time in 20 years. This year’s tournament has seen more of the same, as they’ve fought their way to yet another championship game. They’ll face Queensland South, who will be looking to dethrone the defending champions.
One of the key players for last year’s SA Metro squad was Samantha Simons, and she’s carried her stellar form over into this year, proving to be one of the most talented players in the tournament. Simons possesses an incredible versatility that makes her a threat every time she steps on the floor.
Queensland South has a more balanced approach to their attacking game, with Jessica McDowell-White dominating the ball, whilst the likes of Miela Goodchild, Ula Mutoga and Shyla Heal all get their share of touches on the offensive end. Goodchild, in particular, has been a consistent scoring threat for Queensland South, showing an impressive touch inside the paint throughout the tournament.
SA Metro won their semifinal matchup in a thriller, defeating VIC Metro in overtime thanks to a clutch performance from Elissa Brett. As the lead guard for this SA Metro squad, she’s been one of the driving forces on their route to success, doing an impressive job controlling the pace of the game. Darcy Rees is also a player that has been extremely consistent throughout the tournament, with the forward out of Forestville likely to get a lot of touches inside the paint.
Both squads have had the luxury of having productive benches throughout the tournament. Queensland South were lucky to get a huge performance from Ainslee Heuston during their semi-finals matchup, while Brianna Gregory-Johnson has also been an important piece for them off the bench. SA Metro’s bench isn’t as deep, but has still managed to be effective, with Taylor Prenzler, in particular, providing a much-needed offensive punch.