BENDIGO Braves will send four representative teams to Shepparton this weekend to contest the Victorian Country State Championships.
Boys and girls squads will be represented in the under-16s and under-18s.
Led by coaches Ben McCauley (under-16 boys), Nick Salm (under-16 girls), Justin Cass (under-18 boys) and Bianca Dufelmeier (under-18 girls) the teams have been working hard over the past month in the lead up to the event, with Junior Braves director of coaching and athlete development Joe Hurst happy with how the teams are looking heading into the weekend.
“Our Braves teams have a strong and proud tradition of outstanding results at the Victorian country state titles and the coaches have done an outstanding job in making sure our teams are ready to compete at the high level required to win a state championship,” Hurst said.
“I look forward to seeing how we progress over the weekend.
The tournament tips-off from 9am on Saturday morning, with finals being played across divisions one and two on Sunday.
Teams will need to finish in the top two of their pool on Saturday to progress into the division one finals on Sunday.
The under-16 boys have been drawn against Pakenham, Portland and Moe in pool B on Saturday, while the under-16 girls will play Corio Bay, Traralgon and Wodonga in pool A.
The Braves under-18 boys have drawn Warragul, Portland and Corio Bay, while the under 18 girls have clash with Wangaratta, Portland and Korumburra in pool D.
Dufelmeier’s under-18 girls rounded out their preparation with a 43-23 grand final win in last weekend’s Wodonga Junior Tournament.
They were led by a 13-point game from Danielle O’Toole, who averaged 16 points for the tournament across four games, including 24 in a win against Echuca,
The under-18 boys defeated Wodonga 35-14 in their grand final,
while an under-16 girls team filled with bottom-age players lost 17-23 against Wodonga.
Coach Salm, who led the under-16 girls to a state country championship last season, praised the performance of the younger-age Braves.
“Our second side is strong and as head coach of the first team I’m excited that our bottom age team is pushing other associations’ firsts teams,” he said.