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Well after such an amazing build up to the 2012 Sr AS State Championship Finals Day it had finally arrived! The biggest day on the McDonald’s Hoop Time calendar, the top 2 Sr ASG & ASB plus their entourage of parents and family members converged on the State Netball & Hockey Centre (AKA ‘The Cage’) to fight it out for the final 2 Hoop Time State titles in 2012. You could cut the anticipation with a knife as the players arrived and entered into the venue.
After a short debrief and some inspirational words on never giving up on your dreams & goals by Melbourne Tigers legend Warrick Giddey, the players made their way down to walk out on centre court for the first time.
There was plenty of ‘ooohs’ & ‘ahhhs’ as they walked out into the Stadium lights and realized the enormity of what they were about to undertake over the course of the next 20 minutes of game time.
The ASG were up first as the crowd started to filter in. St Peters PS Epping V Kent Park PS.
This game was tipped to be a close, hard fought encounter and it was going to be whoever ended up getting the better start after 2 weeks since their Finals day that would hold the advantage heading into the final minutes, because it is never easy coming from behind in a State Final. Both teams had their strengths leading into this final, but they both had a different style, which was going to make for a mouth-watering encounter.
After a nervous start in the opening minutes and a few missed attempts at the basket & some turnovers at both ends it was Kent Park who drew first blood in the Final.
St Peter’s couldn’t buy a bucket in the opening minutes and Kent Park with their quick ball movement had plenty of options spreading the scoring and they started to open up a handy little buffer, scoring the first 6 points of the half. Before finally it was Brooke Bailey who stepped up to the line for St Peter’s and scored their first point of the Championship Final with a solitary free throw. That was the only joy on the offensive end for the girls in blue as Kent Park scored again in the final minute to extend their lead to a game high 7 points, which they held onto until the main break.
Kent Park looking to be holding all the cards at this stage, but St Peter’s had to regroup and come out and give everything they had in the final 8 minutes of 2012!
The game was certainly not over and they were still within striking distance, but they needed a good start to put Kent Park under pressure.
The second half got underway and St Peter’s got on the board first with a basket each from Teneisha Fiore & Rani Taylor which brought them within 3 points, but Kent Park steadied and despite it getting tight, it was the likes of Chelsea Oxlade, Rebecca Jones & Alana Jones who shone through when it counted.
Taking the final few minutes and making it their own and giving Kent Park enough of a margin to seal a wonderful & well-deserved 6 point victory. Kent Park’s evenness across the board, but especially on their offensive end was the telling factor in their victory, with 7 of their 9 players getting on the scoreboard.
It is Kent Park PS 2nd Hoop Time State title after winning the Jr ASG in 2010.
Sr ASG State Championship Final
Kent Park 14 (C Oxlade -3pts; R Jones, C Williams, B Smith, L Gibson, A Jones – 2pts; A Macauley – 1pt)
St Peter’s 8 (R Taylor – 4pts; T Fiore – 2pts; B Bailey, E Grubisic – 1pt)
After a 30 minute break to allow the NBL teams a shoot around warm up. It was the boys turn to take to the court and decide who would become the State Champion for 2012.
It was touted as a David vs Goliath battle. At one end you had Croydon Hills PS, the recently crowned SSV State Champions and a team who took all before them throughout both the SSV and Hoop Time competitions making it into the decider with relative ease. Up the other end was Lysterfield PS, who had surprised many with their great gameplay and quick court speed to upset a lot of more fancied teams throughout the State Grand Final day at Dandenong 2 weeks ago. They were a team of well deserving finalists, but the question was did they have enough to topple the giants of 2012?
The game opened with both teams trading baskets, Croydon Hills first to get on the board to settle the nerves with a good driving layup from Tyler Robertson, only to have that initial score cancelled out moments later by Lysterfield’s first points of the game through Jake Mellis. It was a surprisingly lethargic start from Croydon Hills, and Lysterfield came out and by the halfway mark of the first half were actually on top of each element of the game. They were wrestling the momentum from Croydon Hills and they were running with it. Trent Mellis doing a lot of damage along with his brother Mitch as they combined for 8 points in the half to put the favourites flat on their backsides with great hussle on defence and scoring baskets up the other end. Lysterfield’s belief and aggression on the court was paying off as they held the advantage throughout most of the opening half. Leading by as much as 6 points at one stage, they eventually headed into the main break leading by 4 points after 2 late free throws from Sean Mc Daid to bring Croydon Hills back within a respectable margin.
Here it was, after a very entertaining 1st half, the final 8 minutes of 2012 were upon us and it was going to go down to the wire. Lysterfield had come to play and were not letting being the underdog trouble them at all, they had struck the first body blow, now everyone waited to see how Croydon Hills would respond and if they would respond in enough time to put themselves back in the game.
No one really could have predicted the amazing half we would have and for those fans that had taken their seats and everyone watching the game, they were treated to one of the best 8 minutes of Primary School basketball you are likely to see this year. It had absolutely everything, it had everyone on the edge of their seats and it was a grandstand finish to the final game of the year.
Lysterfield scored first again in the second half to further extend their lead out to 6 points with another basket from Trent Mellis and Croydon Hills knew they now had to wake from their slumber to try and pull this game off. Enter Ben Adams who had been very quiet in the first half, he took the game by the scruff of the neck and with his good inside game, helped wrestle the momentum back into Croydon Hills favour. Scoring the first 7 points for Croydon Hills to put them in front. Lysterfield had to respond quickly as Croydon Hills threatened to run away with the game now they had the lead, and to their credit they kept chipping away, but boys in red got their inside game working and jumped out to a 24-18 lead with just over 90 seconds remaining in the game. To many it seemed to be enough of a lead, surely being 6 points down after leading for a lot of the of 14 ½ minutes played so far would be enough to crush the spirits of the Lysterfield boys. But they again picked themselves up off the canvas and proved why they were in the Hoop Time State Championship Final. It was a turnover from Croydon Hills that sparked the revival. With Blake Lee having a 60 second purple patch which included a very nice jump shot outside the key to get the margin back to 4 points. Time was certainly against them, but with a missed shot up Croydon Hills end, Lysterfield had one last chance to stamp their name into the history books. Handed to the boy with the hot hand, Blake Lee threw up a 3-point hail-mary and was fouled in the process, as the ball sunk into the bottom of the bucket and he had the chance to unbelievably tie the game up at 24 with a free throw to complete a rare 4 point play. The pressure didn’t get to him. Indeed he sank the free throw with 9 seconds left on the clock. Croydon Hills with one last chance to steal the win, but was it enough time?
A foul came with just under 2 seconds remaining in the Croydon Hills frontcourt and it looked like we were set to head into an unprecedented period of extra time, but as they say in sport, “cometh the hour, cometh the man”. From the inbound pass, it was the man of the second half Ben Adams who had the opportunity to make the game winning shot. With a quick turn, the shot was up and the buzzer had called an end to the game. The whistle blew, the foul was called and the ball went in off the rim to give Croydon Hills and incredible victory. Ben made the free throw after the buzzer to take his second half and game tally to 10 points which was a game high, to make it a 3 point win for the SSV Champions who had been tested a lot more than anyone thought possible. Croydon Hills PS writing themselves into the history books and following in the footsteps of Yarra Road PS in 2011 to take the ‘double crown’ of the SSV & McDonald’s Hoop Time State Titles in the same year. A wonderful achievement in a wonderful year.
Not to be forgotten are the boys from Lysterfield who played the game of their lives and proved that anything was truly possible if you believe it enough. Unfortunately there had to be a winner and a runner up, but they certainly put in a champion performance in 16 minutes of basketball, and while the pain of getting so close against the odds will sting for a while, they should be proud of everything they achieved throughout a wonderful year in Hoop Time. Against any other team, their performance would have been enough to walk away State Champions.
But alas, Croydon Hills took all the blows thrown at them, they finally responded, and did enough to scrap out the win in front of around 1,500 Tigers fans. It is Croydon Hills PS 3rd Hoop Time State title after wins in the Jr ASG in 2005 & Jr ASB in 2010.
Well done to both teams on a thrilling, entertaining & amazing ASB State Championship Final.
Sr ASB State Championship Final
Croydon Hills 27 (B Adams - 10pts; J Perry – 7pts; T Robertson – 6pts; S Mc Daid – 4pts)
Lysterfield 24 (T Mellis – 9pts; B Lee – 8pts; J Mellis – 4pts; M Mellis – 3pts)