Un­der-14 bas­ket­ball cham­pi­onships in Shep­par­ton

The Tatura Guardian - - Sport - By Tyler Ma­her

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.

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