TASTING finals action last season and a heartbreaking two-point loss on the buzzer has fuelled Ballarat Rush to go deeper in the Big V Youth League women’s championship division.
This Sunday is a new chance to advance.
Rush’ youth league team opens its finals campaign in an elimination final against inter-conference rival Bulleen at East Doncaster.
Ballarat coach Darren Govan said his team was stronger with another season’s experience and ready for the Boomers.
“We’ve got mostly the same team from last season and got to finals, so we want to try and build on that as well,” Govan said. “...We’ve definitely had a very tough last three games. We beat Bendigo, lost to Dandenong and lost to Knox – playing against arguably the three other best teams in the league.
“I rather we play those three and learn a little about ourselves from each one leading into finals.”
Rush has met the Boomers once this season, a game which Rush controlled until the Boomers pummelled them with a 30-point fourth quarter to claim the win.
It was a round two game and Rush was still settling its team.
Rush star Lydia Brooks is tipped to return to the floor from an ankle injury. Brooks has led the Rush charge, averaging 14.7 points and 12.6 rebounds, this season with a highest score of 26 points made against Ringwood in early May.
Molly Mathews, Ryleigh Haire and Rush captain Claire Constable form a solid, consistent team core.
Experienced guard Bronte Clark and forward Kasey Burton, predominantly on the senior roster, add depth and bite when available between South East Australian Basketball League duties.
Govan said the state’s premier youth league was a strong pathway from juniors potentially to SEABL ranks for players aged under 23.
About seven youth league players have had minutes in SEABL matches and Govan has also called up development players from junior rosters to test their game in the youth league.
Govan said players could build minutes and confidence in the league and a final would be another important step up to another level.
Rush players trained lightly on Thursday night to polish off preparations and could hardly wait to test their game against the Boomers.