2016 SA Junior Champs - State Boys Preview
And to finish off our Previews we have the State Boys. The Sturt Sabres have well and truly owned this section of the Tournament, not since 2005 has another club won the State Champion Boys Club award outright. Central Districts results in recent years have been on the back of a number of very strong age groups and a 2014 shared title could be a sign of things to come in 2016. Norwood and North are the next likely clubs to compete for the honour.
Under 12 Boys State
Summer Premiers: North Adelaide, Runners-up: Sturt
Dark Horse: Central Districts
Current In Form Team: Norwood
The balance of speed vs height leans towards the former in the younger age groups but there's plenty of both spread out across the competition. Expect the unexpected as is often the case, momentum and confidence can decided titles at Under 12 level. A good pack of 6 - 8 teams would be pushing for Semi Finals which will make the Age Group a thrilling one throughout the weekend.
Pool A: North, Sturt, West, Eastern, Southern
Both of Summer's Grand Finalist line up in this pool and seem likely to move through to finals as well. North's 1 point win in the Grand Final was a fair reward for their efforts over the season after finishing top at 12-1. Their one winter loss to Norwood a reflection of the age group and the evenness of the top four at a minimum. Sturt's late run in Summer aided by the uneven fixture almost ended in glory in a close and lively grand final. The Sabres have had a robust start to Winter at 4-0 but their last round 4 point win over South wasn't convincing but may also be a reflection of the slow improvement of the Panthers. West seem the most likely to break into the top 2 with the tools needed to compete despite a lost early in winter to fellow Pool A team Eastern. Their last round showing against the in form Flames proved their ability to take on the competition's best teams. Eastern have been inconsistent which isn't new for younger teams. We don't feel they will be able to put together a full weekend to push for Semis but may produce one game to shock a more fancied side. Southern too have struggled for consistency and need to put together more good minutes in games to push those above.
1. North, 2. Sturt, 3. West, 4. Southern, 5. Eastern
Pool B: Centrals, Norwood, South, Forestville, Woodville
Three teams for two spots will provide some highlight games across the first three days which will determine the final 2. Centrals start to winter has included losses to both summer grand finalist a convincing win against Woodville and a 1 point win at home against the #3 Pool B team South. Norwood meanwhile have started the season with 3 wins including a close one over the summer premiers North. Their winter started with a draw to South. The Panthers form as you can see has been very good against their seeded Pool compatriots and we believe any of these 3 teams can fill one and two by Saturday evening. Forestville have had a tough start to winter along with some personal changes and seem unlikely to push for finals. The Warriors too have struggled to keep pace with the more fancied teams in the competition.
1. Norwood, 2. South, 3. Centrals, 4. Forestville, 5. Woodville
Final Placing: 1. North, 2. Sturt, 3. Norwood, 4. South
Under 14 Boys State
Summer Premiers: Sturt, Runners-up: North Adelaide
Dark Horse: South Adelaide
Current In Form Team: Norwood
2014 U12S Champions: Woodville
A scarily tough, pressure weekend for a group of players so young. With not just Finals to play for but a spot at the National Championships in October on the line it may be a case of which group can handle the burden best that gets through. A pretty even spread of success over the past two years with player movement also key. Thanks to the 2015 success of the Sabres there are 4 Nationals spots up for grabs making every single game over the weekend vital to a team's hopes of attending the prestigious event. 5 teams seem likely to play for those 4 spots, and there's always the chance of an upset from outside that group as well. A difficult grade to predict but more importantly a very difficult grade for all involved.
Pool A: North, Sturt, Eastern, Centrals, Forestville
Again North and Sturt find themselves in Pool A together after battling in the Summer Grand Final. The Rockets have built a solid group around their focal point but we've seen in the past this can be a flawed model. The talent both these teams have leading their squads is impressive and both North and Sturt would expect to move through to finals convincingly. The Sabres got important wins at the end of summer to push into the final and ended up beating the previously undefeated Rockets. Their undefeated start to winter has come with little challenge apart from a push from the Panthers in the last round. Eastern's three wins so far have come against struggling sides and their large loss to Norwood probably highlights a bit of a gap between the very best in the grade and the next group. Centrals gave the Rockets a scare last time out but will struggle to push them in a tournament like this. The Eagles haven't been able to challenge all year and that seems likely to continue.
1. Sturt, 2. North, 3. Eastern, 4. Centrals, 5. Forestville
Pool B: Norwood, South, Woodville, Southern, West
Norwood's early summer season form has returned in winter, 4-0 including large margins over fellow challengers North and South. We did see some struggles at the end of Summer and if those gaps in the system return on a weekend like this they could be threatened. Probably the most balanced team in the competition with strength in size and speed as well as both ends of the court. The mosquito squad at South will be looking to show more of their best form and less of their worst this weekend. Their lack of size could hurt them but their guard talent and depth is equal to anyone. Woodville have more size then the Panthers and this could prove their way into the finals but their wins in winter haven't been against the best teams in the competition and we'll be interested to see if they can break through for a win against a top four side. Southern's decline since their 2014 State Champs successes and Classics trip has been noticeable and we don't think they'll find enough to compete against the big two. West have long struggled in 14 boys now and we don't think that will change this year.
1. Norwood, 2. South, 3. Woodville, 4. Southern, 5. West
Final Placing: 1. Norwood, 2. Sturt, 3. North, 4. South
Under 16 Boys State
Summer Premiers: Sturt, Runners-up: Central Districts
Dark Horse: Woodville
Current In Form Team: Eastern
2014 U14S Champions: Central Districts
And interesting mix of results, coupled with some notable player movements makes this grade open for finals. That said there's been two teams clearly above the others this year and in 2014 and we expect that to be the case this tournament too.
Pool A: Centrals, Woodville, Norwood, West, South
After finishing summer in first the Lions struggled to overcome the Sabres in the Grand Final going down comfortably. This seems to have taken some shine off the lions image. They have held strong at 3-1 including a win over the Warriors in winter with only a 6 point loss to Sturt next to their name. A full strength, working unit still has the means to win the tournament so they shouldn't be discounted yet. Woodville have the pieces without the bench depth of the top two sides. Just outside has been where they've fit again this year and will likely continue to make finals without breaking through to the big game. Norwood are stronger then 2014 adding some pieces back into their line up but may not have enough to get past either the Lions or Warriors. West certainly have improved overall since 2014 while South have sadly gone the other way, a finals contender in 2014 now struggling with depth and missing pieces in 2016.
1. Centrals, 2. Woodville, 3. Norwood, 4. South, 5. West
Pool B: Sturt, Forestville, North, Eastern, Southern
Sturt have jumped to #1 in this competition, their talent and depth pushing them above all others at this stage of the year. 4-0 so far in winter, although pushed by finals challengers in three of those four games. While clearly the favourites the Summer Season Premiers are beatable given the right circumstances. This Forestville group have consistently competed all the way back to Under 10s and 2016 has so far been no different. The challenge will be if they have the internal fortitude required to get past the Sabres in their pool and the best of Pool A on Sunday. We are yet to be convinced but still see the Eagles as a title threat. North would dispute this after their 15 point win over the Eagles a couple of weeks ago. At 3-1 the Rockets have continued their development over the course of the year and will be looking to break into the Finals at this tournament. But then we throw the 4-0 Eastern into the mix as well making this a very tough pool to come out of. Eastern's most recent wins have been over finals contenders Forestville and Norwood so they have shown an ability to beat talented teams not just those at the bottom end of the table. With the Sabres likely to make it through, that leaves three teams with equal claim all battling for one finals spot. One of the toughest Pools to watch over the first three days of the tournament. Southern's player drain and struggles will continue in a very tough Pool.
1. Sturt, 2. Eastern, 3. North, 4. Forestville, 5. Southern
Final Placing: 1. Sturt, 2. Centrals, 3. Woodville, 4. Eastern
Under 18 Boys State
Summer Premiers: Sturt, Runners-up: Central Districts
Dark Horse: Norwood
Current In Form Team: Eastern
2014 U16S Champions: Central Districts
An important competition for Centrals hopes of Club success, along with the 16 Boys. This Sturt group have had a lot of success this year, including a big Summer Grand Final win and wining the Eltham-Dandenong Tournament in January. There has been injuries, disruptions and 18 Nationals commitments to take into account and the Sabres won't be full strength this weekend either. The next pack seems unlikely to break through while a number of lower ranked sides will also be hoping for a good showing at this Tournament.
Pool A: Centrals, Forestville, Norwood, Southern, Woodville
A disappointing end to Summer for the Lions losing the Grand Final after finishing the season 13-0. The Lions have been impacted by Nationals commitments for a number of their starters but have held on for a 2-1 start to Winter. Now that all are focused on their club commitments we expect to see Centrals firing on all cylinders shortly and again will be the team to beat for this title. Forestville have been far from convincing this season off to a 2-2 start. A close lost to the Sabres has been followed by two close wins and a surprising loss to the in form Mavericks. Like their Under 16 counterparts and unlike the girls program, this Eagles group seem to lack the hunger to pull out the wins against highly fancied opponents. A good balanced group playing team basketball will be the key. Norwood''s winter has included two important wins and a draw against the much improved Rockets. Another off season addition helps bolster the line up if allowed to play and the Flames will be led well by their State experienced players who have the ability to push the Flames into the Finals. Southern too have started winter positively at 3-1 including a number of close wins. Their loss to the Mavericks highlights the improvements both clubs have made over the past 6 months. Southern have the length to challenge the higher ranked sides and we are expecting an upset win somewhere along the way from the Tigers this weekend. Woodville have fought hard all year and been quite competitive in a number of their losses to date. Tough pool for them and we can't find a way for the Warriors to move up from their #5 ranking.
1. Centrals, 2. Norwood, 3. Southern, 4. Forestville, 5. Woodville
Pool B: Sturt, Eastern, North, West, South
A Pool originally seemed comfortable for the Sabres has become very competitive as Sturt battle available, injury and forced personnel changes and those chasing them slowing build and improve their line ups. Discounting the Summer Premiers who also have success interstate in 2016 would be foolhardy and despite all their complications we still believe they'll find a way to success. Like their female counterparts the Mavs will be pleased 18 Nationals are behind them and their 5 representatives can again focus on the local competition. Their 3-0 season start would suggest nationals hasn't been much of a disruption and also shows the talent and success that is possible for this team. The Mavs have the depth to push the Sabres and if all goes well for them and cracks appear in the Sabres line-up they could come through to Semis as #1 seed. North, West and South all have struggled to get going this season but their records don't reflect the improvement all have made. North's season has included a draw to the more fancied Flames as well as 2 one point losses to Centrals and Southern. They have the ability, size and toughness to challenge anyone in this competition and will provide a threat to the semi final bound sides. West don't have the depth of the higher ranked teams but have enough talent to go to to make them more than competitive. Close losses have proven the Bearcats are around the mark but do they have the legs in a Tournament to stay competitive for 4 Pool games across 3 days. A young South line up will be looking a long way forward to 2017 but also have show glimpses of what it can achieve this year. Their ability to play 4 quarter basketball has been a concern and limiting their down times seems to have hurt them against most of the strongest teams. Their lack of size and strength may also be telling in a tough long weekend of games.
1. Sturt, 2. Eastern, 3. North, 4. South, 5. West
Final Placing: 1. Centrals, 2. Sturt, 3. Eastern, 4. Norwood