Basketball double for Suns in Northern Junior League
THE Harvey Norman Suns sealed two Northern Junior League division one titles and finished runners-up in another after competition in Tamworth last weekend.
Coffs Harbour won the under 16 boys and under 14 girls titles while the under 16 girls finished runners-up.
The under 18 girls and boys teams both made it through to the finals weekend, but lost the right to play in the grand final by losing to Grafton in the final.
The under 14 boys also made the finals weekend, but lost their third-fourth playoff game by just one basket to Tamworth, who went on to win that division.
Looking back over the Northern Junior League season, Coffs Basketball is very proud of the overall results from the 13 teams entered in division one and two.
Six teams won their division, three teams were runners-up and three finished third.
This result certainly maintains Coffs Harbour's position as the number one junior basketball association in the region.
Looking back over the 2006 season it was pleasing to see a number of smaller basketball associations in the region who improved their overall ranking.
Lismore and Port Macquarie have shown great improvement, particularly in their boy's program, and such improvement can only make the league stronger.
Under 16 men's
THE Coffs Harbour Under 16 boys were undefeated going into the first semi final of the Northern Junior League finals.
The Suns found it difficult to find their rhythm and take control of their game against Port Macquarie.
The opposition had two very strong players but lacked depth, and so as the game progressed Coffs finally found their teamwork and took the game in the last minutes sending them into the Grand Final.
Port Macquarie and Lismore played off in the prelimary final and Lismore caused a major upset, defeating Port by 15 points.
Come Sunday morning and it was obvious that the Suns boys were a team on a mission from the second they walked into the stadium.
The Suns performed an unbeatable display of 'up in their face defence' with hardly a step wrong.
Struggling to change the pace, Lismore tried a zone defence that had worked for them the night before.
But the mighty Suns found the gaps, moving into spaces and scoring at will.
Although the Suns won the game 113 by 64, the crowd was captured by the entertaining and awesome display of skill, camaraderie and sportsmanship.
Congratulations to the young men of Suns Under 16 boys: Jarrod Austin, Simon Cross (Grand Final MVP), Mat France, Trent Freebody, David Grunsell, Nick Hughes, Nathaniel James, Sam Wallace, Luke Whighton, Petnoy Wonisch.
Under 14 girls
SATURDAY in the major semi final the Coffs girls took on the Tamworth Thunderbolts.
Full court pressure defence by Tamworth caused numerous turnovers by the Coffs girls resulting in a 17 to 5 lead to Tamworth at the end of the first quarter.
The second quarter started in much the same way as the first with Tamworth jumping to a 14 point lead.
Consecutive baskets by Megan Rae, a seven point contribution by Ruby Mayson and a more dedicated effort on defence saw the Coffs team claw their way back to be down by only five at half time.
More of the same in the third quarter from the Coffs girls enabled them to lead by five going into the final quarter and hang on to win a nail biter 48 to 46.
Sunday in the grand final we were up against Tamworth again, but Coffs took the initiative from the start with a smothering full court man-to-man defence to completely overpower the Thunderbolts and have an 18 point lead at the half.
The Suns continued to run the floor well in the second half and maintained their defence pressure to take out the game 66 to 39.
Top scorers for Coffs were Ruby Mayson 22 and Liza Goulding 14.
Meghan Rae was exceptional at both ends of the court while team captain Brittney Ainsworth was awarded MVP for the game.
Under 16 girls
AFTER a magnificent Northern Junior League season where the Suns under 16 girls were undefeated over 12 round games and had comfortably polished off second placed Tamworth Thunderbolts in the Saturday major semi-final 84-61, Coffs Harbour managed to stumble badly at the final hurdle.
In the all-important NJL grand final contest, it was the home town Thunderbolts who came out firing on all cylinders to establish and hold a positive double-figure lead throughout the second half and take the well-earned 2006 title in excellent fashion 77-61.
It was one of those games where one team shot the lights out and the other team was forced to play catch-up with the fantastic Tamworth spectator crowd cheering on their girls to spectacular heights.
Without doubt, the better team on the day took the gold medals with the disappointed Suns girls gallant in their unaccustomed loss.
The fate of the Suns 16 girls season rests in the hands of Basketball NSW with the hope of being granted a wild-card entry into the second round of the NSW State Championships in Sydney in two weeks.