The long weekend was a very busy one for our Under 16 Junior Blues Boys, playing six matches across three days at the State Basketball Centre in Wantirna, for the National Junior Classic.

Game One for the Blues was a high-scoring affair against an undefeated NSW squad from the Waratah Junior League. After a hot start by both sides, it was a stalemate at quarter time – 23 apiece. Frankston pulled away in the second quarter, holding an eight-point lead heading into halftime. They never surrendered this lead, going on to win 74-69. Max Meaney and Nicholas Beattie were the standouts, combining for 43 points.

The Blues fought out another tough win in Game Two, claiming victory by five points, 57-52. Defence proved to be the difference-maker in the third quarter, limiting Diamond Valley to just seven points in the term. Max Meaney and Nicholas Beattie filled in the scoring column again, combining for 35 points and five triples.

The third game of the pool stage was another close battle for the Blues against the Woodville Warriors. Frankston head into the first breakdown by nine and had to make some adjustments. One of those adjustments was limiting Emre Fisk’s offensive impact. After the SA Metro State Team representative scored 33 points the match prior, the Blues kept him to just 10 points. Blues emerged 62-55 victors, with Max Meaney, Louis Hodder and Jack Andaloro scoring double-digit points.

The first game of the Blues’ finals run at the National Junior Classic came against Kilsyth. Frankston blitzed them in the first quarter, maintaining a 17-point lead at quarter time. Max Meaney and Jack Andaloro led Frankston to the 67-52 win, combining for 34 points and 5 threes.

The Blues’ boys went in as underdogs against a strong Dandenong team in the preliminary final. This team went undefeated in their VC division from round 1-9 and currently sit atop of the Championship ladder. After going down 22-12 at quarter time, the Blues maintained their composure and fought back to take a 31-27 advantage into the main break. After a grueling second half, the final buzzer of the fourth quarter sounded with both teams deadlocked at 52-52. Overtime ensued, and as he did in regular time, Owen Dowel continued to be an anchor on both sides of the ball for the Blues. Dowel kept Dandenong star Henry Sewell to 12 points while scoring 12 of his own. It was back and forth down the stretch until Louis Hodder produced a clutch steal for the Blues and scored in transition to seal the win. Frankston progressed to the grand final with a 61-57 victory.

The final matchup for the Blues came on Queen’s Birthday against a much-accomplished Hawthorn side. Frankston stayed within striking distance after a quarter of play, only down seven points. However, a second-quarter run led by Vic Metro young guns Ryder Cheesman, Harrison Beauchamp, and Edward Brammall was too much for the Blues. Hawthorn’s Zane Windsor capped off a great weekend of basketball for the club, knocking in seven triples in an unbelievable shooting display.

While the Blues couldn’t complete their fairy-tale run, they did the Association very proud by receiving a Silver Medal, summed up by FDBA’s CEO Wayne Holdsworth. “We are extremely proud of the achievement of our U16.1 Boys team reaching the final in the National Junior Classic. We extend our congratulations specifically to coach Daniel Spangler, assistant coaches Bryce Philippe and Daniel Trist, team manager Julie Meaney and all the players and parents of the team.”

by Dylan Smith for Frankston Basketball