Amazing feat for the Coasters
HE Wonthaggi Coasters U/16 girl’s final tournament for the year was the penultimate challenge the Victorian Country Championships held at Shepparton recently.
The girls made it all the way to the grand final, but were defeated by Bendigo.
Their first game was against Portland and the girls bounced out of the blocks early and proceeded to dominate their opponents.
They were in front 23 to 11 at half time and never let Portland back into the game whilst getting valuable court time into the entire roster.
The final score was 41- 17 in an ideal warm up for the tough games to follow.
The next game was against Wodonga. The girls came out flat and were really struggling against a physically stronger side.
Three quarter time scores were 22-18 and Wonthaggi and the game was up for grabs.
The final quarter was a heart stopping affair with the Coasters “sneaking” over the line with a one point victory 26-25.
It was a mighty scare and their next game was against the might of Ballarat.
Half time the scores were 12-7 Ballarat’s way and the girls were staring down the barrel.
At three quarter time they were 17-13 and still down with an enormous task in front of them.
In another heart stopper with four seconds on the clock the shot went up and in to win a crucial game, Wonthaggi 26-24.
With all the preliminary games over Wonthaggi was in Division 1 in a quarter final against the Bellarine Peninsula.
After a good night’s sleep the girls came out firing and quickly gained the ascendancy. It was probably their best performance so far of the tournament they dominated to run out comfortable winners 34-17.
They played the semi final against rivals Traralgon. In the past year, Traralgon has won the majority of games, always in close hard fought contests.
With Traralgon’s top scorer on three fouls, the Coasters had to drive into the paint to try and get points on the board.
But as expected, Traralgon dug deep, defended very well and was accurate in its shooting.
The Coasters were up by two points at three quarter time and they had to find something extra to get over the line and to make it to the grand final.
Tired legs and fatigue played a factor and mistakes where a plenty.
Coasters managed to steady and defended like their lives depended on it and were rewarded with a couple of steals and some fast passing to get a couple of quick scores on the board. This gave them a lead which Traralgon had to try and chip away at.
With nerves of steel, Coasters came away with a nine point win, the biggest margin in the last three years of playing each other.
They were up against a massive challenge in the grand final.
Bendigo came out of the blocks firing, defensive pressure was amazing and offensive plays were well drilled and executed. Coasters started the game with good intentions but were shown up by a class act.
At quarter time they were down by 10 points, something had to change to get into the game.
Coach’s instructions were to drive into the paint and try and draw a foul.
Goals started dropping and the margin was reduced by half time to eight points.
Coasters had stopped the run on and a big blow out, but the job wasn’t done.
Bendigo came out with unbelievable accuracy and relentless pressure in defence. It is hard to find energy in tired legs and when shots aren’t dropping it can be demoralising but the girls weren’t giving up. They were down by 15 at here quarter time.
With eight minutes of hard work left Wonthaggi had to pull out everything it had to try and reduce the margin.
A fired up Coasters ended the last quarter with finals energy that was missing in the first quarter. Defence picked up, control of the ball improved and balls started to drop.
Bodies were pouncing on loose balls and aggression to pull that ball in came to the fore front.
With nothing to lose, the Coasters drove to the ring created turn overs and stopped a dominant team’s run on. Unfortunately it was all to no avail as Bendigo proved too good.
Although the girls went down in the grand final by 15 points, their achievement to make a grand final in Division 1 against quality opposition is a credit to themselves and their coach. A huge thank you goes to the girls’ coach Alana McRae for her time and effort training and coaching this team. Also thank you to Hannah McRae for assisting Alana on the weekend while Alana actually competed in the championships.
Trusty team nanager Diana Thomas was also thanked for keeping the girls in line and as always keeping them entertained.
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