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VICTORIA Country basketball coaches have hailed the silver medal-winning efforts of their players at the 2018 Under-16 National Championships.
Bendigo supplied four players – two each in the boys and girls – to the teams which finished runners-up to Victoria Metropolitan in Friday’s finals on the Sunshine Coast.
Piper Dunlop and Meg McCarthy were part of the girls’ team, which lost 65-57 in the grand final, while Dyson Daniels and Dylan McCauley featured in the boys’ team which fell 74-64, despite leading midway through the third quarter.
Dunlop finished as the tournament’s leading rebounder at with 14.86 per game, to go along with her points average of 14.43.
She finished with 11 rebounds and four points in the grand final.
McCarthy was a livewire in the final with eight points and some tremendous efforts on defence.
She averaged seven points, 4.43 rebounds and four assists per game during the week.
It was the second year in a row the junior Braves duo have collected silver medals after playing in Perth last year.
Their coach Joe Turner said he was proud of the maturity and improvement shown by his team throughout the tournament.
“We lost our second game of the week and then bounced back from that and continued to get better each time we played – that’s what will stay with me,” he said.
“The gold medal game we got off to a slow start but again showed they can fight the whole way back, fought to make it competitive and hang in there, but in the end Vic Metro got over the top of us.
“They’re an outstanding group and their development and growth and having a chance to bring them in and see them develop as a team was pleasing and they should be very proud of what they have achieved.”
Victoria Country under-16 boys coach Joel Anderson said his team had been brave in defeat.
“The game itself the boys came out of the gates really well and we held the lead until part way through the third quarter,” he said.
“We just couldn’t arrest the momentum when it mattered most, so full credit to the Metro team, they did a good job.
“Our boys won every game except tonight and they improved every single game, worked together really well, really easy to coach and they did a great job.
“The boys were fantastic – I said to them at the end of the game that no one can take away the memories we’ve now got.
“This team won’t play again together – there will be different coaches, different players and it means heaps to me.
“It was my first time coaching a state team and I couldn’t have asked for anything more from my group.”
McCauley stepped up in the grand final with a trio of three-pointers at crucial times on his way to nine points, while Daniels played through an injury to contribute five points and three rebounds.
Shepparton’s Jordan Michel, who plays with the Braves VJBL team top-scored Victoria Country with 14 points.
McCauley ended the tournament with averages of six (points), 1.75 (rebounds) and 1.88 (assists), while Daniels averaged 7.73ppg, 3.83 rpg and 2.17apg.