After narrowly missing a gold medal showdown by two points, Basketball Ballarat’s Under-16 Miners bounced back to claim bronze at the National Junior Classic on the weekend.
The Under-16 Miners bolted out of the blocks with a confidence-boosting victory over previous champions North Adelaide to kick off their campaign.
With little expectations heading into the tournament, the Under-16 Miners backed up against Melbourne Tigers and Canberra at Dandenong Basketball Stadium to finish the pool stage undefeated.
Under-16 Miners coach Chris Thornton said after the successful pool stage, the players felt if they could continue playing the same basketball, they were a chance of winning the gold medal.
“The first game against North Adelaide was the toughest,” Thornton said. “But they defeated them comfortably, giving them the self belief that they deserved to be there and they carried that momentum into every game from there on, playing some really fast basketball, which was exciting to watch.”
The Under-16 Miners won their quarter-final game before going down to Hills Hornets in a buzzer-beating semi to just miss out on qualifying for the gold-medal match.
But despite the team being “bitterly disappointed” after fighting hard to come so close, Thornton was pleased with the spirited display to secure the bronze medal over North Adelaide, 69-47.
Stand outs offensively included Ben Hobbs, Austin McKenzie and Nathan Sutton, while Charlie Molan played a vital defensive role.
“The stats don’t show that he was one of our leaders and each game he took the main defensive assignments to lockdown on one of their key players,” Thornton said. “He easily stopped double digits coming the other way.”