Two years ago
NSW State Champs U14 Girls at Maitland
The past weekend saw the NSW State Champs for U14s being held in Maitland.
Comments here relate to the girls comp which was deservedly won by metro champ Hills with Taree a surprise second, with Manly third and Coffs Harbour 4th.
All four teams will attend the upcoming nationals in Shepparton.
Well done to the Maitland association - the courts were in good condition - apart from the shot clock, which was a disaster. The officiating was satisfactory (here people will always complain). Contests were conducted in good spirit - no real drama emerged that I was aware.
IMO not much that separates the top 4 sides with Hills prevailing in close contests with Manly (in pool round) and Coffs (in the SF).
These wins by Hills reflected a combination of attributes: foremost is the quality of their guards whose hustle at key times generated turnovers and were efficient in finishing. Sensible coaching harnessed this quality and ensured it was supported by sizable bigs.
Looking ahead to nationals - I saw nothing in this tournament to alter my prediction that all NSW teams will likely end up in the bottom half of the comp. Of these, Hills has the best chance of making top 8.
To be sure there are pockets of talent in NSW teams, the problem is that that talent finds itself located in teams that are either poorly coached or married to a front/back court that is not competitive at a national level.
What does this say about the national youth development strategy?
NSW has enormous potential to one day rival long time pacesetters Victoria in junior basketball and - IMO - any long term development plan for the game in Australia should seek to foster this potential. With that outcome still several years away, basketball tragics need to keep the faith.