A good portion of Queensland's top talent converged on the Sunshine Coast for the U18 State Championships held from 16-20 January at the Caloundra Indoor Stadium, Meridan State College and Sunshine Coast Grammar School.
68 teams from across Queensland took to the court across the week, with the finals of the men's and women's championships narrowed down to just 4 teams. We recap the tournament and provide our All-Star Five selections.
Two years after winning the U16 State Championship, it was the Gold Coast who reigned supreme in 2017 behind the stellar play of Flynn Cameron and Callum Dalton. They overcome all obstacles to record a convincing win over Townsville in the semifinal. After falling short to Southern Districts by 2 points in their group game for their only blemish of the tournament, they earned revenge in the championship game to head home as champions.
Townsville impressed in earning the bronze medal behind their star forward Samson Froling, dropping just the one game to eventual champions Gold Coast in the semifinal. Along with the Waves' Flynn Cameron, the Marlins' Kody Stattmann and the Capitals' Nicholas Stoddart, it could be argued that Froling was the tournament's most valuable player. The Heat exceeded all but their own expectations, managing to overcome the Brisbane Capitals and star shooting guard Stoddart who also had a brilliant week. Kody Stattmann was also a standout, however could not haul his Cairns Marlins over the line to get them into the semifinals.
1. Gold Coast 2. Southern Districts 3. Townsville 4. Brisbane 5. Cairns 6. Ipswich 7. South West Metro 8. Gladstone 9. Mackay 10. Brisbane (2) 11. Northside 12. USC RIP
Flynn CAMERON | Gold Coast Waves
The always poised Cameron was the engine room behind the gold-medal winning Gold Coast outfit. Cameron demonstrated a well-rounded game, capable of running his team, or taking over individually when needed. His elite pick and roll play was exemplary, as he managed to find open teammates or work his way into the depths of the opposition defense. Cameron’s best performance came in the highly anticipated semi-final match-up against Townsville, which saw him deliver a 40-point performance to help his team advance to the final. Whenever the ship needed to be steadied, Cameron found a way to answer the call.
Nicholas STODDART | Brisbane Capitals
Nicholas Stoddart spent all week showcasing his offensive mastery, leading the Brisbane Capitals to a top 4 finish. The enigmatic guard was unstoppable in transition and equally capable in the half court. His array of offensive abilities allowed him to run circles around opposition defense. With a confidence that matches his offensive capabilities, Stoddart was one of the most entertaining athletes to watch over the week.
Kody STATTMANN | Cairns Marlins
Whilst a 5th place finish wouldn’t have met the expectations of most, it was not through any fault of Stattmann. Stattmann received immense attention from opposition defenses all tournament, often seeing double teams arrive on the catch. His improved poise and decision-making allowed him to invite his teammates into the game, encouraging Riley Clarke to take on some added offensive responsibility. As we have become accustomed to seeing, Stattmann continued to display his never-ending range from behind the three-point line by punishing any defender who failed to carry a hand. If there was a discussion for the best shooter in the country in this age g roup, Stattmann would have an argument.
Samson FROLING | Townsville Heat
The U19 national team representative and do-it-all forward had an exceptional tournament, leading the Townsville Heat to a bronze medal finish. As dangerous as Froling was individually, it may have been his ability to make his teammates better that was most impressive. Froling was able to turn a 0–12 Townsville Heat regular season record into a bronze medal in a matter of 6 games. It wasn’t just the winning that impressed, it was the way in which Froling had a calculated response to every defensive coverage he came across. There wasn’t a more complete player on both sides of the ball than Froling.
Callum DALTON | Gold Coast Waves
The Centre of Excellence representative returned to the state championship tournament with an improved level of confidence and competence. Dalton didn’t have the same eye-catching impact as some of our other all-star 5 athletes, but was as efficient and effective as any name on this list. Dalton provided an exceptional counter punch to Flynn Cameron, doing most of his work around the rim. Time and time again he found ways to break games open with his ability to come up with offensive rebounds and second chance points.
As many predicted, the Townsville Flames and Logan Thunder progressed to the championship game in a much anticipated showdown for the title. The Flames, who were led superbly by Haylee Andrews and Majella Carey, did all they could to try to win, however Logan's depth was telling, as they held off all challenges for the championship. Jade Kirisome and Miela Goodchild were the stars of a loaded Thunder team, who were deserved winners this time around.
Logan played Townsville in the U18 Women's Championship game | Credit: Zen Creative Studios
The Cairns Dolphins surprised many by playing great basketball all week to secure a top 3 finish and leave with a bronze medal. They managed to restrict Ipswich standout Grace George in the playoff for third and in doing so managed to earn the victory. George had been outstanding all week and can hold her head high in guiding her team to fourth.
1. Logan 2. Townsville 3. Cairns 4. Ipswich 5. Southern Districts 6. Sunshine Coast 7. Brisbane 8. South West Metro 9. Mackay 10. USC RIP 11. North Gold Coast 12. Rockhampton
Jade KIRISOME | Logan Thunder
Kirisome was the pace setter for the exceptionally potent Logan team. She did a good job all tournament of keeping her teammates involved, whilst making plays of her own when the situation required. Her steady hand made you feel that she was in total control of the outcome. Her statement performance was a defensive effort in the gold medal game against the Townsville Flames. Kirisome was matched up against Haylee Andrews and did an exceptional job in limiting her effectiveness in the most important game of the tournament.
Haylee ANDREWS | Townsville Flames
The WNBL guard had an effective week as the leader of a competitive Townsville Flames outfit. Andrews was elite in transition, finding ways to probe the opposition defense in the first 6-8 seconds of the shot clock. Andrews showed some glimpses of improvement in her half court effectiveness, proving to be a competent shooter from distance and a sound decision maker in the pick and roll. More than anything, it was Andrews’ competitive qualities that allowed her to have an impact in leading her team to a silver medal.
Miela GOODCHILD | Logan Thunder
It was another exceptional week for the guard with no weakness. Goodchild was first class in leading her Logan team to another gold medal, with her offensive efficiency outstanding, accumulating points without needing a high usage rate. Goodchild was equally committed to defending her position, showcasing her all around ability. Nothing speaks more about her than her winning percentage. If Goodchild is on your roster, you’re going to win significantly more than you lose!
Grace GEORGE | Ipswich Force
Grace George was versatility personified. No one impacted games in the variety of ways that George did. If a play needed to be made, George was the one to make it. Whilst she would have been disappointed not to win a medal with her Ipswich team, her individual showing was nothing to be disappointed about. Her length and athleticism were unmatched on the girl’s side of the tournament. If she continues to improve her competitive qualities, there is no telling the type of player George could become.
Majella CAREY | Townsville Flames
The low maintenance forward displayed her value as a handy second option to Haylee Andrews for the Townsville Flames. One of the highest IQ athletes in the tournament, Carey showed an innate ability to find receiver spots off dribble penetration. This led to uncontested scoring opportunities all tournament long. Her defensive capabilities were also on show, using her versatility to defend with equal success on the perimeter and on the interior.