Jessica Bailey, Simon Cross and Hayley Cassell back from the national titles where they represented NSW Country with distinctio
Jessica Bailey, Simon Cross and Hayley Cassell back from the national titles where they represented NSW Country with distinctio

A bounce in their step

By BRAD GREENSHIELDS

IT may have been the first time that Coffs Harbour basketballers Hayley Cassell, Jessica Bailey and Simon Cross experienced the white-hot heat of elite national standard basketball but that didn't stop any of them covering themselves with distinction.

Representing NSW Country, the trio recently took part in their first national championship held in the Victorian gold-mining town of Ballarat.

With talent scouts from the NBL, WNBL and even American high schools and colleges in the stands, the basketballing trio certainly produced some performances that would've seen their names go into some notebooks.

Playing in the girls under 15 team, Cassell and Bailey collected a bronze medal when they defeated South Australia Metro by 15 points in the play-off for third.

The captain and vice-captain of the Suns under 16s team both received letters from Jan Stirling, head coach of the Australian Opals, asking that they set their goals towards selection in the Australain Gems team for the 2009 Under 19 World Championships.

It was the medal though that provided the biggest highlight for the girls.

"Before we started, no-one even expected us to get a medal," Cassell said.

The boys team didn't quite perform to the same heady heights as the girls but that didn't stop power forward Cross from throwing up some impressive statistics.

The Bishop Druitt student who is captain of the Coffs Harbour Suns under 16 team, led the tournament for three pointers and ranked third for overall field goal percentages managing to score from 63 per cent of his shots.

His 22 points against Western Australia certainly wasn't a bad effort considering his team finished ninth.

All three are now determined to ensure success with their respective Suns teams which are both undefeated and counting down to the finals in three weeks.

After that, the next big step that the trio would dearly love to make is selection in the elite All-Australian Camp which is being held in Canberra at the start of next year.

They're daring to dream of big things in the future and exposure to what's expected at the top level is the first step towards making those dreams come true.



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