Vics get it done in nail-biting Under 18 final

VICTORIA Metro has claimed the 2024 Under 18 Boys National Championship, after defeating South Australia Metro by five points in the gold medal game in Ballarat on Sunday afternoon.

The boys competition has delivered some excellent games throughout the tournament, and it ended in a fitting fashion, with Sunday’s game going right down to the wire.

South Australia was kept at bay for much of the contest, but hung around long enough to make things interesting late in the piece. A late triple kept an unlikely miracle alive in the dying seconds, but it was too little too late, with some crucial baskets from Vic Metro in the fourth quarter proving the deciding factor.

Harrison Beauchamp capped off a strong campaign at the National Championships with a dominant display in the decider, posting some big numbers and coming through when his side needed a hero late in the match.

Victoria Metro (96) def. South Australia Metro (91)

It was a relatively slow start to the match, with the first score not registered until two and a half minutes into the opening quarter. However, Victoria began to find its groove, and the home crowd started to play a role in the game. The host side led by six points at the first change, holding South Australia to just 15 points in the period.

It was a spirited performance from the South Australians in the second quarter, more than doubling their output from the opening period and playing with plenty of energy. They caught the Victorians on the back foot in transition, and flipped the script to take an eight-point lead into the main break.

Momentum changed hands once again, as Victoria stormed out of halftime to erase the deficit in no time at all. Some big shots were knocked down from all three levels and the game had another twist. In a game that was full of ebbs and flows, South Australia was given a tall order heading into the last, trailing by nine with 10 minutes to play.

It was a close finish to the match, with the gold medal still up for grabs heading into the final minutes of the tournament. However, when the game was on the line, Victoria was simply more clutch, getting into the paint to knock down some vital shots late, and holding on to claim the ultimate prize.

Having been decisive all tournament, Beauchamp was again the hero for Victoria, proving too much for the opposition to handle with 31 points, six rebounds and three steals on 10/22 shooting. He delivered late in the contest with a deft floater and some ice-cold free throws to seal the result for the Victorians.

Rio Bruton was South Australia’s best with 22 points and eight rebounds while shooting 52 per cent (9/17) from the field, and kept his team alive with a three-point heave at the end of the game, but it was to no avail.

In the girls’ final, New South Wales Metro defeated Queensland South to claim gold.

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