NBL1 East Players of the Week – Round 8

A PAIR of young guns stood up with eye-catching performances in the National Basketball League (NBL)1 East competition over the weekend.

Round 8 saw another big batch of games take place across the men’s and women’s competition, and with less than half the season remaining, each matchup is playing a pivotal role in how the top eight will look come season’s end.

The NBL1 East has a plethora of both young and experienced talent hitting the court each week, but it was the former that made the biggest impact over the course of the weekend.

With that in mind, Rookie Me Central will be taking a look at the standout performances from both divisions, after some big numbers were posted over the weekend. This time, James O’Donnell and Jessie May Hall delivered breakout showings to put themselves on the map despite being younger than their peers.

James O’Donnell (BA CoE) vs. Illawarra Hawks

24 points, 12 rebounds, one assist

The young gun was firing for the Basketball Australia (BA) Centre of Excellence (CoE) on the weekend as his side defeated the Illawarra Hawks by 39 points when the two sides locked horns at AIS Basketball and Netball Centre on Sunday afternoon.

The crop of Australia’s brightest young talent delivered once again, completely outperforming the Hawks at home to show how bright the future is on the basketball front.

The CoE completely owned the first three quarters, and although the Hawks finally hit their straps in the fourth term, the damage was already done and it turned out to be a 115-76 win to the CoE.

O’Donnell was the star for the CoE with a massive double-double to cap off a strong run of form he has building of late.

He posted a game-high 24 points on 9/14 shooting from the field and doing a mountain of work close to the hoop. In pick and roll situations, he broke away from his opponent and got open driving to the rim, where he finished the play more often than not.

O’Donnell was also a monster on the glass, pulling down 12 rebounds, which was the most of anyone on the court. Impressively, these were equally split on the offensive and defensive end with six apiece, boxing out and producing several putback baskets.

It was an impressive showing from O’Donnell, who was a serious presence inside the paint on both ends of the floor.

Jessie May Hall (Hornsby KuRingGai Spiders) vs. Hills Hornets

33 points, four rebounds, three assists, 11 steals

The youngest player on the floor for the Spiders stood the tallest as the Spiders broke their losing streak to claim a 10-point win over the Hornets at The Brickpit on Saturday evening.

Coming into the game, both sides had struggled recently and a win was crucial moving forward. The Hornets burst out of the gates to take an eight-point lead at the first change, before Hornsby KuRingGai fought back after half time. The Spiders stormed home in the final term to turn the five-point deficit into a 91-81 win.

16-year-old gun Hall was the best performer in the win for the Spiders, delivering one of the best two-way showings of the season.

She top-scored with 33 points on 11/26 shooting from the field, doing most of her work inside the arc and working hard off the ball to create space.

The most impressive facet of her game was her defensive work, recording a remarkable 11 steals in the win. Her hands remained active at all times, and she intercepted several errant passes from the opposition.

It was an extremely promising performance from Hall, who was recently named to the FIBA Under-17 World Cup squad.

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