YOUNG basketballers from across the district have been selected for the under 14s Gold Nugget Camp.
Eight players from Sale, and six from Maffra, have been chosen to participate at the camp in Ballarat, which will be the final stage of tryouts for the Country Victoria team at the 2019 Australian Country Junior Basketball Cup and the 2018 Southern Cross Challenge.
Harper Fraser, Isla Mccarthy, Ryan Beale, Ally Beale, Sienna Wynd, Noah Johnston, Jemma Birss and Ashley Centra were chosen from Sale, and Jett Killoran, Noah Christy, Brodie Tohara, Harrison Rowley, Jaime Gallatly, and Lucy Jones were picked from Maffra.
Sale Sonics regional academy coach Joel Fraser said it was a great outcome for Sale to get eight players through to the final stage — placing them amongst the best in country Victoria.
“We’ve been working hard as a club over the last few years to build on the fundamental skills and give all of our players the best possible opportunities to succeed at the next level,” he said.
“We know we have talented kids and we are committed to providing them with pathways to be the best they can be.”
Fraser said the Gippsland Regional Sports Complex court upgrades due to commence this month would assist to bring more camps and elite training opportunities to Sale in the future and create even more development opportunities for young Sonics.
Sonics player Harper Fraser attended the Gold Nugget camp last year and gained selection to the Southern Cross Challenge.
“It was a great experience to represent Victoria Country last year and I’m hoping I can perform well enough at this year’s camp to gain selection again,” he said.
“It’s a tough two days of training and you just have to make the most of every chance you get.”
Sale Sonics guard Noah Johnston said he was looking forward to competing against the best players from across the state.
“I am a bit nervous but also excited at the opportunity,” Johnston said.
“We play against these players every year at country championships and we got to play with some of them at the under 12 Jamboree camp last year.
“I’m looking forward to the challenge of training with players of such a high standard.”
Maffra coach Kaleb Sclater was impressed with his young charges.
“We’re doing pretty well, we got six out of 20, it’s a really good percentage for us,” he said.
“Jett Killoran and Jaime Gallatly have done the Country Cup last year, so hopefully they get selected this year and go to Southern Cross, then they could go into the state development program, and that can lead onto the actual state team in the under 16s.
“We’ve always got a few rolling through, which is good, and I think it’ll show in the seniors — in a couple of years, we’ll have some really, really good under 18s and under 16s, and under 14s, so we’re developing well with the boys and the girls.”
Killoran said there was a lot to look forward to after the gruelling selection process.
“I hope to get selected this year — we started in March and had a skills day first, then went to the regional academy, then 20 weeks of training at Maffra, and then once you’ve done that you go to a two-day camp and try out for Gold Nuggets — that’s what we all got picked for,” he said.
“We’ll play against all the metro teams if we get selected, we’re very excited.”
BVC participation coordinator Craig Hockley said the Gold Nugget Camp is one of the most important camps in Victoria Country’s basketball pathway.
“It is all about providing the ground work to be successful or continue on the pathway,” he said.
Athletes have been selected through the Regional Academy, which focuses on skill development over a 20-week program that also includes two weekend camps in Traralgon.
In the under 14 age group, Vic Country will send 40 boys and 40 girls to the ACJBC and another 40 boys and 40 girls to Melbourne for the SCC, with both events to be held in January 2019.
The Boomers’ Matthew Dellavedova attended the 2002 Gold Nugget Camp, and won gold for Victoria Country’s under 14s at the Australian Country Junior Basketball Cup in 2003.