On Monday 7th November I had the privilege of coaching both the Boys and Girls Junior All-Stars Hoop Time Regional Finals at MSAAC. Both teams displayed both skill and perseverance throughout the day and managed to make their way through the tournament undefeated, earning their way through to the State Finals at Dandenong Basketball Stadium. After their success over their past few tournaments, I headed into today's State Finals with plenty of optimism knowing that we had two very strong TPPS teams on our hands.
The boys team came into the day with a well balanced line up containing: basketball smart Savi Kannangara and Will Crane, defensively strong Tyler Puls and Leo Mustafa, safe shooting Lochie Reukers and Brodie Ibrahim, strong rebounding Oliver Slocombe and the supreme athleticism of Che Brogan. Regardless, they had a very tough ask ahead of them, being placed in a very strong Pool B, but with Templestowe Park Principal, Mark Roberts back in the coach's seat, I knew the team was in good hands. The boys managed to finish off their pool stage with three wins and one loss, with all games being decided by small margins. This resulted in them finishing in second place within their group and earning an Elimination Final spot against Sacred Heart Primary School. The Elimation final came down to the wire, with the boys taking the win by 2 points and claiming a spot in the Quarter Finals against Holy Trinity. Unfortunately, this would be their last game, being defeated by 5 points and ending their jouney at the Final 8. Top 8 teams out of 328 in the state, you should be very proud of yourself boys!
The girls also had a multi-talented line up consisting of the super speed of Alexya Charalambous and Sisi Van Velzen, height of Elefteria Loukeris and Ela Christov, shooting prowess of Hayley Dorrington and Gab Horvath and ball-handling skills of Jemma Frida and Taryn Simmons. Rightfully so, they headed into the day high on confidence, finding themselves in Pool D. In their first three games, the girls had convincing victories against Barwon Heads, St Thomas and Terang Primary Schools, however, a tight draw against Woodlands #1 resulted in them finishing second in the pool on percentage. This small hiccup was the precursor to a finals rampage, easily disposing of Loreto in the Elimination Final, St Mary's in the Quarter Final and Sacred Heart in the Semi Final, in many cases leaving the opposition scoreless. The TPPS Girls now found themselves playing in the Victorian State Grand Final against a very strong Woodlands #2 outfit, a momentous achievement. The girls fought until the death and managed to make it to the final siren deadlocked with their opposition at seven points apiece, requiring the game to go into overtime. Unfortunately, they were not able to come through this extra period with the advantage, eventually losing by a solitary point. Second place out of 220 teams in the state, you girls have deserved it, well done!
I could not be any prouder of all the boys and girls and the way they have held themselves over the course of the last few months. No matter what this experience has thrown at them, they have always shown upmost integrity and class. You have inspired myself and the whole TPPS community. Thank you to all the family and friends who have come to cheer and assist with scoring. Additionally, a big thanks goes out to Mark Roberts, whose unwavering support of the TPPS Sporting Program makes days like this a possibility.
With Day 1 of Hoop Time State Finals done and dusted, TPPS still has two more days to go. Good luck to the Senior All-Star Girls and Junior Future Stars who will be heading to Dandenong later this week.