The largest senior basketball competition in Australia is set to tip off this weekend with the nation’s best 23 years and under competition set to launch the 2017 season. While the Molten Victorian Youth Championship divisions kickstart Big V in 2017, it’s the State Championship Men and Women which attract the most interest in basketball fans across the state year after year.
With that in mind, below you will find some of the intricacies which have divulged over the course of the off-season, beginning with the promotion of the Casey Cavaliers in State Championship Men (and the relegation of the Bulleen Boomers), and the promotion of the Sunbury Jets in State Championship Women (with the relegation of the Whittlesea Pacers).
Season Tip Off
State Championship Women
Saturday 18 March 6pm
Diamond Valley Sports & Fitness Centre
Diamond Valley Eagles vs. Eltham Wildcats
The full fixture is set to be released within the coming days
The 2017 finals series will comprise of the top six teams over five weeks. First and second place receive an opening bye, while two elimination finals consist of 3rd vs. 6th and 4th vs. 5th. Following this, a Best Of Three semi final series takes place between 1st and the LOWEST ranked winner from the elimination finals, while 2nd faces the HIGHEST ranked elimination final winner. The two winners then face of in a Best Of Three grand final series.
State Championship Women
The Boomers tend to be the biggest overachievers in recent history, with head coach Matt Paps most recently leading a team to a finals victory in 2016. They may not be ‘true’ challengers to the crown in 2017, however Bulleen will be looking to be in the race for the top six once again and may fill out one of the bottom two final spots.
Diamond Valley Eagles
The Eagles made a splash last season with the arrivals of Alex Sharp, Mikayla Pirini and Belinda Snell. Their inclusions this year may not be as big of a name like Snell, but they have certainly solidified their stocks in multiple departments. Former WNBL player Kate Oliver moves across from Waverley, joining her is WNBL development player Kasey Burton (from Ballarat SEABL). In addition to that pair, Amelia Smith comes across from Sandringham and they have brought out import Hailie Eackles who’s predicted to do well in the red and white.
A sneaky winner over the course of the off-season as club stalwart Katrina Hibbert returns home to coach the side she won state championships with in the past. The Pick and Roll understands Hibbert plans to suit up and play in a handful of games as well.
After a season as an Assistant Coach at the Melbourne Boomers (WNBL), Hibbert brings with her to the Wildcats Rebecca Cole, who departs Nunawading SEABL for a starring role in the Big V. Cole looms to be an early MVP candidate and will relish her role at Eltham.
Hume City Broncos
The Broncos will be a new look outfit after going all the way in 2016. Three time most valuable player Colleen Planeta is no longer, as is Yinka Olarunnife. Planeta’s ex-teammate in Luxembourg Sam Guastella fills her position, well briefed by her friend about the Australian life. Have the Broncos found the heir to Planeta’s throne?
The Raiders have locked away some key components and have also scored Tenille Nash from Bulleen. In addition, The Pick and Roll understands that they have secured import Ta’Rea Cunnigan who has recently played in the Premier League in South Australia. A second import is understood to also be on the way. The Raiders will be back in the playoffs in 2017.
It’s been a disastrous off-season for the Cougars. After sorting out a competitive team with Ariel Thomas back in the picture, the Cougs were hit hard with injuries in the latter stages of their preparations, now looking for short term replacements.
With that in mind, it could be a long year at The Den for the Cougars.
How much does Melbourne like Sydney? Well, maybe just Ringwood this year. Sydney Coffey will be the Hawks leader this year after they lost some pretty valuable assets over the off-season. Sarah Yousef, Jacqui Vanderzaag and Lisa Ewin have all departed (in a package too) as the new look Hawks will be looking for a positive start en-route to the playoffs.
Southern Peninsula Sharks
Always propelling young starlets of the game, the Southern Peninsula Sharks could be doing that again in season 2017.
Eliza West and Ella Hellessey were two of the collegiate stars that benefitted from a big year at the Sharks and it’ll only be a matter of time before another bobs their head up in 2017. Another team that overachieves on what they’re working with, which starts with head coach Gerard Hillier.
The Jets are on a 24 game win streak and it will be interesting to see how long that can continue for. The core returns for a tilt at the big time, as Chelsea Burns, Monique Stevens and Courtney Duever ate up Division One and were duly rewarded. Sunbury have been able to add to that core with Oria O’Reilly and Josie Stockill as the Jets will surprise a few early on in the season. Playoff bound.
The biggest win for the Venom was to see Nicole Romeo sign the dotted line for another season. Romeo was a revelation for the club last season and will continue to provide at the offensive end. The Pick and Roll understands Michelle Couling will be making a return alongside the main core of last season’s side. Will we see an MVP from the little town by the Yarra?
The Falcons sound like they’re ready to make some noise again when it comes to September. Tegan Cunningham returns for another season and she’s brought along fellow Boomers teammate Kelly Bowen (from Frankston SEABL). If you thought that was enough, former Ringwood trio Sarah Yousef, Jacqui Vanderzaag and Lisa Ewin have changed birds types and their inclusion will really put a stamp on Waverley’s championship aspirations.
Waverley to defeat Sunbury in three games