Tigers roar to championship with fast start

DESPITE coming into the game as underdogs, the Melbourne Tigers have claimed the Victorian Junior Basketball League (VJBL) Under 18 Girls VC Championship, after downing the Bulleen Boomers by 20 points in the grand final.

In the competition’s biggest game of the year, the Tigers burst out of the gates in the first term and stunned the Boomers. Bulleen was the best side for the entire season, but did not expect such an explosive start to the game from Melbourne, and were left on the back foot for the entire game.

The Tigers’ success was set up on the back of some impressive work inside the paint in the first eight minutes. Melbourne attacked the rim with ferocity, and Bulleen’s bigs could not contain the pure volume of field goals that came from close to the hoop. Another positive of driving so frequently was the number of offensive rebounds the Tigers pulled down, as Melbourne recorded plenty of second chance points, particularly in quarter number one.

Edie Clarke was named the MVP of the grand final, after an outstanding 17-point outing on the big stage. She was one of the main culprits inside the paint and produced a telling four-quarter performance, pulling down a few offensive rebounds.

Speaking exclusively to Rookie Me Central, Melbourne coach Aaron Cliffe said that the side planned to attack the paint prior to the game.

“We were trying to really get on the rim and put them under a lot of pressure,” Cliffe said. “We didn’t want to settle for jumpshots as much, and we wanted to put some of their players in foul trouble. It worked for us early as we were able to attack and catch them on the back foot early. It paved the way for the rest of the game.”

The Boomers finished the season at the top of the table with a commanding record, but Cliffe said the Tigers knew they could get the job done.

“We had a game plan, we executed and I am just so proud of what we’ve accomplished and the way the girls played,” Cliffe said.

“The big thing for us was physicality and toughness. They’re a big, physical team and we had to match that and go beyond. It’s what we’ve tried to do in the last five weeks. We did a really good job rebounding the ball, loose balls, deflections, and it paved the way for that start we got and we carried on from there.”

Kayley Kavanagh was crucial from the first minute of the game, nailing some big shots and pushing through contact to even convert some and-ones over the course of the match. She finished with 13 points and was crucial in Melbourne’s fast start.

Neve Giddey was also impressive, not only scoring the ball but creating for others. She unfortunately went down with a leg injury late in the game, but still managed eight points before she was put on ice.

Lily Carmody was strong in defeat for Bulleen, producing a team-high 15 points, while Tabitha Betson fought hard on both ends, but was brought undone by foul trouble.

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