SPECTRES CLAIM CLASSIC GOLD
NUNAWADING BASKETBALL | The Nunawading Spectres have claimed National Classic Gold, the Under 16 Girls defeating the Melbourne Tigers 42-39 in a battle of attrition at the State Basketball Centre Monday morning.
The June long weekend see’s the nations highest ranked junior basketball teams descend on Melbourne, all vying to be crowned Australia’s best. The Spectres opened the weekend with a strong 54-31 win over the Sydney Comets, Luisa Fakalata pacing the scoreboard with points, ensuring her side got off to a positive start.
Fakalata backing it up once again Saturday afternoon with 17 points as her side steamrolled South Australian side Southern Tigers 71-47. Tessa Mutimer (13 points) and Madison Sinclair (12 points) also posting double digits on the scorecard. What was most impressive though was the all-round team defensive execution, the Spectres playing out Head Coach Jaysn Harvey’s game plan to near perfection.
The Spectres were then required to back up for the third time on Day 1 of competition, this time against a talent laden Bulleen Boomers side. Nunawading again banded together for their strongest performance of the day, recording a 56-30 win, locking up top spot in their pool in the process before advancing to the knockout phase.
Dandenong awaited in a Quarter Final matchup, and again it was Fakalata that got the scoreboard ticking for the Spectres. Again the Spectres defense stood strong, holding the Rangers to their lowest score total for the tournament; Nunawading proceeding to a 56-34 win and Semi Final berth.
Nunawading faced local nemesis Knox Raiders in the Semi, as the competition started to tighten. Both teams quality outshone the inevitable fatigue as they stepped on the floor for their fifth game in less than 2 days. The Spectres jumped out to a strong start; Saje Phillips-Snowden opening the account with a triple, Evie Curtis and Sarae Beveridge backing it up for an early 7-2 lead. The Raiders the responding to take a 3-point advantage into quarter time.
Lucy Vaughan connected from deep to lock the scores up at the beginning of the second term and the Spectres maintained control for the majority of the quarter.
Down 2-points at the half, Nunawading came out after the main break with a strong defensive mindset and slowly started building possession on possession. Once they took the lead in the third term, it was never relinquished, the Spectres winning their way through to the Classic Final with a hard fought 45-39 win. Phillips-Snowden posting a team high 12 points.
On the back of a good night’s rest, the Spectres were back at the State Basketball Centre early Monday morning, the Classic Final against arch rival Melbourne Tigers scheduled for an 8:30am tip-off. Despite the early time slot, a healthy crowd assembled and an audience of approx. 6200 tuned in via live stream to watch these two sides battle it out.
The Tigers, led by Laura Hamilton jumped out of the blocks to open a 5-0 lead, Beveridge breaking the drought for the Spectres midway through the opening term. As they had done so many times across the weekend, Nunawading ramped up their defensive pressure, limiting the Tigers ability to penetrate inside the 3-point line, whilst also converting on the offensive end to take a narrow lead into the first break.
Melbourne then controlled much of the second and third periods, opening a 9-point lead on the Spectres at one stage.
The Spectres showing true character dug deep and clawed their way back, their trademark defense again the catalyst for what would be a championship defining comeback.
“I always had faith in my girls,” Nunawading head coach Jaysn Harvey said. “I knew as long as we followed our defensive rules we would be alright… it just clicked in the final quarter.”
Nunawading taking back the lead in the final minute of the game to claim a 42-39 National Classic Championship in a game that is sure to be the talk of the basketball fraternity for some time to come.
Photo courtesy of Basketball Victoria