The Under 18 Mildura Junior Heat girls team have been crowned runners up in the Victorian Junior Country Championships.
Held in Bendigo last weekend, the girls cruised through their regular games with their biggest win being 30 points over Korumburra.
In the first final the girls came up against Warragul, accounting for them by five points, while in the following final they defeated Seymour by nine points.
The girls met Ballarat Rush in the Division One Grand Final, but went down by 21 points.
Heading into the tournament coach Mahaela Jackson said she knew what her girls were capable of and expected the girls would be competitive.
“They applied effective pressure defence and pushed the opposition out of their comfort zones and they ran the floor extremely well in offence,” Jackson said.
“By the third game I had to put the brakes on them a little to ensure we worked through our structured offences enough before heading into the finals.”
She said when the team came up against Warragul in the first final, the Warriors put some “high quality intensity pressure” on the Mildura side.
“They hadn’t seen a lot of that in the earlier games, so it took them some time to find their feet,” Jackson added.
Progressing through to the following final Jackson said Seymour knew Mildura’s strength was the run of the floor.
“So they tried to slow the game as much as possible, which was a good game plan,” she added.
“The approach worked for a while, but the girls kept battling through until we made the right adjustments to eventually take control of the tempo and get the win.”
Excited to make the grand final, Jackson said it’s what it’s all about at the higher levels.
“We went in with a team of seven Under 18 players and two Under 16 players who I brought in to assist with some relief minutes,” Jackson said.
“For tournaments like this most teams go with a full roster of 10 players so for the girls to battle through and get a shot at the championship, that was a huge achievement in itself.”
Ballarat was one of those who had a 10 player, well balanced quality team.
“They were organised through their offensive sets and applied some high intensity full court pressure,” Jackson said.
“We knew Ballarat was going to be tough; our focus going in was to play our game, trust in our offence and just throw everything we had left at them.
“Ballarat came out with high intensity and pace and maintained it for the entire game and while the girls fought hard for as long as they could, they just simply ran out of legs.
“I am extremely proud of every one of the girls; they don’t care whose name the points are next to, they encourage each other, they back each other and they work hard.”
The Under 18 Mildura Junior Heat boys also competed in the Championship and came away from the tournament with one win and three losses.