Girls storm to gold at Port Macquarie
LISMORE Storm Under-16 girls basketball team defeated their bogey side to win gold in the Northern Junior League tournament finals at Port Macquarie on Sunday.
The Storm faced the Bellinger Valley Braves in the grand final and won a two-point thriller 67-65, with Amy Waddell leading the scoring with a game-high 27 points.
It was a sweet victory for the girls from Lismore, who had been unable to win against the Braves this season.
It was the Braves' first loss in the division. The Storm rebounded from a 14-point major semi-final loss to the Braves on Saturday afternoon to defeat Coffs Harbour Suns No 2 by 19 points in the preliminary final.
The Storm finished the qualifying rounds behind the Braves in second place.
Coffs Harbour Suns No 2 finished third.
The Storm worked well as a team in the first quarter, going into the break one point up.
The Braves fought back to take a three-point lead at half-time but the Storm came out hard in the third quarter, changing their defensive methods and applying a full-court press to unsettle Bellinger.
Defensive pressure from Courtney Bailey, Grace Amey, Brittany Creary and Courtney Hammond restricted Bellinger.
Maddy Euston shot superbly from the field and Hannah McQueen took some huge rebounds to deny the Braves possession.
It resulted in the Lismore team taking back the lead by three points at three-quarter time.
The Storm kept their nerve in the last period and held on to win 67-65.
Amy Waddell was awarded MVP of the final. In the boys divisions, the Under-18s finished the season third and the Under-16s won the final game of their qualifying rounds.
The Under-14s played at Terrigal the previous weekend in the second round of the State championships after they qualified by winning their divisional finals at Grafton in July.
The team performed well above expectation and showed that the gap between metropolitan and regional standards has been significantly reduced since they competed previously.
Squad development will continue through to the start of the new season in early March 2008.
Any interested players should contact Lismore Basketball on 66216647.