Under-14 basketball championships in Shepparton
The Australian Under-14 Girls Club Championships tipped-off in Shepparton yesterday, with Shepparton Sports Stadium and Wanganui Park Secondary College’s Visy Stadium set to be packed to the rafters all week.
More than 1000 visitors from across Australia are expected to descend upon the Goulburn Valley for the first national junior basketball tournament in Greater Shepparton since 2000, with 24 of the best teams in the country battling for supremacy.
Among the combatants is a Shepparton Gators outfit, with experienced coach Leigh Bathman taking the reins alongside assistant coach Paul Whitelaw and manager Alicia Stovell.
The Gators have been drawn into pool C for the tournament, which began with yesterday’s opening ceremony at 9 am and concludes at 9 pm Saturday after the championship gold medal game. The Gators will face Dandenong Rangers, Cairns Dolphins and Hills Hornets in the initial forays of the event.
Huge crowds will watch all 92 matches that are scheduled for the week, with a 500-seat grandstand erected alongside Shepparton Sport Stadium’s main show court in order to accommodate the influx of family and fans.
‘‘The stand has been a significant investment from the association and we hope the community comes down and sees some great basketball,’’ Greater Shepparton Basketball Association general manager Stacey Cole said.
‘‘The GSBA is excited to once again be involved with hosting such an important national event for the local region.
‘‘The week-long event is the culmination of many months of planning for the GSBA in conjunction with Basketball Australia. We have over 100 volunteers involved with the nationals this week.
‘‘The GSBA has a proud history of hosting many successful basketball events over the years. The under-14 championships will bring teams from all over Australia to showcase some very high level basketball for the local basketball community, including our very own Shepparton Gators under-14 girls’ team playing in the event.’’
The Gators’ under-14 girls’ squad for the week ahead includes Hannah Onley, Ashlee McMahon, Tazmyn Stovell, Jasmine Huffer, Shelby Hutchins, Isabel Whitelaw, Eliza Bicknell, Sophia De Rose, Nakiah Bamblett and Holly Egan.
Shepparton plays at 1.30 pm today, before landing in either the championship or shield division for the remainder of the week depending on results.
Special order: Shepparton Sports Stadium is home to a temporary 500-seat grandstand this week, with the Australian Under-14 Girls Club Championships set to bring more than 1000 visitors to the area. The stand was tested out yesterday during a Women’s National Basketball League pre-season clash between Bendigo and Dandenong.