Packin' 'em in

By BRAD GREENSHIELDS

NOT since the NBL Blitz hit town nearly 18 months ago has such a large crowd been expected to hit Sportz Central.

Preparing for the Interstate Challenge, which has it's first tip-off early this morning, Coffs Harbour Basketball president Judy Smith, Naomi Markham and Anna Murat have been preparing 440 showbags for the multitude of juniors that are about to hit the Bray Street complex this weekend.

Coffs Harbour Suns representative teams will be hosting the Logan City Thunder, North Brisbane Wizards, Caboolture Suns and Bankstown as 40 teams and their band of supporters hit town.

Logan City general manager and former Australian Boomer Mark Dalton is using the visit as an opportunity for parents and friends to travel away together and develop a sense of club and unity.

Tonight at Boambee Bay reserve, not only will members of the 12 Thunder teams be enjoying a barbecue, but so will the 400 family members and supporters who've come along for the weekend.

"Everyone from Logan is here already and a lot of those people have been here from the beginning of the week," Smith said.

"A lot of them have made a holiday out of it and tried to get away from all the rain on the Gold Coast."

The interstate challenge began last year when North Brisbane hosted the tournament at Boondall and this year it's Coffs Harbour's turn to play host to one of the biggest junior tournaments on the basketball calendar.

The beauty of this interstate challenge is that all the players gain some valuable on-court experience from the weekend.

"Queensland basketball actually run their rep program in term four then term one of school, so they're actually in the middle of their rep program so they look for strong competition games during the Christmas break.

"We don't start our rep season until half way through term one, so for us it's a lead in and it's an opportunity for all of the coaches to have a look at all the kids that want to play rep."



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