And then there were 4
It’s grand final weekend in the VJBL and the Werribee Devils have 4 teams to cheer on – 16.3G, 18.1G, 18.2B and 18.6B. See below a brief snapshot of their successful seasons and chances in the big one.
Rags to riches (18.6Bs)
By coach Davin Kroger’s own admission, the 18.6Bs didn’t have the perfect start the season. “I was a new coach, we had a lot of new rep players, we had a few injuries and we needed to recruit players from domestic early in the year – but now look at us!”
The 18.6Bs have stormed through the finals series and take on Eltham in the grand final this weekend. Coach Davin described the team as a “rags-to-riches” story and was immensely proud of their achievements so far.
“The boys have really enjoyed the season. Our team mirrors the Wyndham region in many ways, we come from a variety of cultural backgrounds, but on court we are definitely one unit. The boys may not be technically perfect, but they’ll take the game on and have the potential to suddenly explode.
And the chances of causing an upset against the league leader this weekend?
“I reckon we’re a 50-50 chance. We haven’t beaten them this year, but last game was very tight and I believe we can turn it around.”
If their season is anything to go by, you wouldn’t put it passed the 18.6Bs!
Drawn together (16.3Gs)
There has been a sense of inevitability about the grand final match-up between Werribee’s 16.3Gs and Westgate. They have played three times throughout grading and the season for one win each and a draw. Not surprisingly, the draw was their last meeting.
Coach Renee Dayao said she has kept an eye on Westgate throughout the year.
“As a coach it has always been Westgate as the team to beat. They have been the benchmark for the season and while I’ve been keeping a close eye on them, I’m sure they have been thinking about our team as well.”
Renee said the 16.3Gs had endured their ups and downs throughout the year but were playing the right way at the right time.
“When it mattered the girls really knuckled down and got it done. I knew if we could play our way we could match it with any team and I feel like we have the momentum.
Given the history of the two teams this year, Renee certain of one thing.
“We’re in with a great shot, but it is definitely going to be a close one.”
Toppling the league leader (18.1Gs)
Australians love cheering on a sporting underdog and we have the chance to get behind another one this weekend when our 18.1Gs take on Melbourne Tigers in the grand final.
The Tigers have been the benchmark of the competition and coach Matt Stephens said it’s going to take a huge effort to topple them from their perch.
“They’ve been on top most of the season and they’ve beaten us in both of our games, but that’s not to say that we can’t beat them,” Matt said.
After a slow start the 18.1Gs have built momentum throughout the year, leading to a grand final berth.
“There hasn’t been one moment where we turned it around, just gradual improvement. For some of these girls it was the first time playing together so it has taken time to get everyone on the same page, but once we did, we’ve finished the season strongly,” Matt explained.
There’s just one more hurdle to clear for the girls.
“We haven’t beaten them through the season, but the games have been close, so I know if we play our best, we’re in with a shot!”
Boys to men (18.2Bs)
When 18.2Bs coach Rob Swann asked his players at the start of the season what their goals were he received a few blank looks.
“I wanted to put the responsibility on the boys. We started the season with a number of experienced basketballers but also some players who were raw.”
“It was really pleasing to see our captains lead the way and all the players really embrace their responsibilities,” Rob explained.
The development of individuals and the team as a whole has been the driving force behind their run to the grand final.
“The boys are like a little family now and they’ve really matured throughout the year,” Rob said.
That growth was highlighted in their second game for the season against grand final opponent Broadmeadows. After losing their first encounter comfortably, the team were in a winning position late in the return bout.
“Unfortunately, we couldn’t hold it together late, but it proved we can match it with them and if we keep our heads we’re a good chance this weekend.”
Regardless of results, Rob said he was proud of the team’s efforts through the year.
“If these boys keep playing, the future is bright for Werribee Basketball senior program.”