The past week saw our Knox Junior Raiders 14.1 Girls compete in the most prestigious junior basketball tournament in the country, the Australian Club Championships (Nationals) in Shepparton.
After an amazing week, the girls headed into the Quarter Finals undefeated after five straight wins over 4 days. The Quarter Finals were toe-to-toe through the entire game however with a strong defence, the girls beat Eastern Mavericks earning them a spot in the Semi-Finals to play for a spot in the Gold Medal match.
The Semi-Final against Gold Coast Waves was tight for most of the first half. The Waves pulled away just before half time with a 14-3 run. Their lead lasted until there were four minutes remaining where our girls staged a furious comeback, going on a 12-2 run and cutting the margin to five with a minute to go. Unfortunately we were out of time and Gold Coast stole the win.
The team then played Melbourne Tigers for the Bronze medal. The game was tight from the outset with the teams tied with 3:30 to go. The Tigers went on to gain a five point lead but our Raiders girls fought back and with a three-pointer with two minutes on the clock, the game was again tied. The final minute saw Melbourne take the lead again to go on and win the Bronze medal.
The girls finished the tournament 4th in Australia – an absolutely outstanding achievement!
Head Coach Rachael Quirk’s reflection on the 14.1s Nationals experience
“The weeks leading up to nationals we really zoned in on the other components necessary to be a professional athlete. The girls were educated on the importance of nutrition and hydration as well as put through their paces at Core Advantage where we learnt about the proper recovery techniques and they all received some feedback on what they can do to improve their athleticism in the long term. Before and after every training we rolled, stretched & ate, to mimic what they would be required to do whilst away. While it took some adjusting to initially, the girls all jumped on board and we got through the week without any injuries. I believe the lead up had a massive part to play in their ability to stay fresh for the week. We took recovery really seriously throughout the week and the parents were always on the ball with food ready for the girls whenever they needed it. This helped keep them fresh and feeling good especially when we had our double days and heading into finals.
This team has so many vital components to it and one is never more important than the other. We put an emphasis on playing to our own strengths for the week and every one of them embraced the chance to go out there and play to whatever that was. I would describe this team overall as one who had their teammates back and didn’t give up when it got tough. The Nationals experience showed a different side to so many girls that you wouldn’t get to see in a regular season. The chance to be away together meant friendships were formed and confidence grew because of that. It was fantastic to see them treat each other like a family and pick people up when they needed it. So many of these girls have grown in the space of a week as a player and a person because of the environment they were put into.
Steph and I are so proud of all the girls and how they approached this week, we want to thank Dom #ATMDoh for his support as Assistant Team Manager. He was so much more than that and gave us confidence and advice when it was needed. Also to Justin @Tallguy for scouting and cutting up endless tape for the girls to watch – of our own games and other teams. And finally to our parents who put their trust in us to run the week how we had envisioned, for their support whilst we were playing and most importantly off the court too. It’s amazing to see the girls be proud of the level of basketball they’ve just played at and hopefully it’s a stepping stone for some of them to compete in more elite competitions in the future”.
Game 1 – Knox Raiders 50 def. Tarnee Tornadoes 47
Game 2 – Knox Raiders 55 def. Willeton Tigers 32
Game 3 – Knox Raiders 76 def. Darwin Cyclones 24
Game 4 – Knox Raiders 52 def. NW Tasmania 20
Game 5 – Knox Raiders 57 def. Dandenong Ranges 44
Game 6 (Quarter final) – Knox Raiders 53 def. Eastern Mavericks 41
Game 7 (Semi final) – Knox Raiders 37 def. by Gold Coast Waves 42
Game 8 (Bronze medal match) – Knox Raiders 54 def. by Melbourne Tigers 58
On behalf of Knox Basketball we would like to congratulate the 14.1 girls along with all their coaches and everyone that helped get them where they are.
Good luck for next season!