Finals berth the main aim as Eagles hope to soar at junior titles

FRUIT HOOPS: Orange basketball players Kate Mastronardi (under 14s girls), Matt Gray (under 16s boys), Luke Kilkeary (under 18s boys), Erin Holmes (under 16 girls) and (front) Clarry Annis-Brown gear up for the Waratah Junior Western League finals. Photo: NICK McGRATH 0515nmbasketball

FRUIT HOOPS: Orange basketball players Kate Mastronardi (under 14s girls), Matt Gray (under 16s boys), Luke Kilkeary (under 18s boys), Erin Holmes (under 16 girls) and (front) Clarry Annis-Brown gear up for the Waratah Junior Western League finals. Photo: NICK McGRATH 0515nmbasketball

THE National Basketball Association is in the midst of its post-season pandemonium, and this weekend so too is the western region.

While probably not quite reaching the heights Miami Heat point-forward Lebron James and the rest of their NBA counterparts will on the way to championship glory, the 2014 Molten Waratah Junior Western League finals reach its climax this weekend.

Hosting the event at Anzac Park on Saturday and Sunday, the Orange Basketball Association will field five teams in today’s semi-finals with one eye on each qualifying for their respective finals.

OBA president Lee Spirit-Jones was optimistic about her sides’ shot at victory.

“All of our sides have got a good chance to make it through to the final,” she said, with the Eagles fielding sides in the under 18s boys, under 16s boys, under 14s boys, under 14s girls and under 16s girls championship finals.

“But once finals come it’s a totally different game. It’s completely different. 

“Fingers crossed our kids are ready. They’ve trained well and they’re in the right frame of mind.” 

A best of the best after the top four from each age group in each division qualified for the finals, teams from Dubbo, Cootamundra, Bathurst, Griffith, Young, Lithgow, West Wyalong, Narrandera and Leeton will converge on Orange for this weekend’s basketball.

Spirit-Jones predicted each age group to be “hotly contested”.

“We’ve got strong chances too,” she continued.

“The under 18s boys came second in their division, which is first division. They’ve got a good chance, fingers crossed, for them to go through.”

The Griffith Demons will be the under 18s boys’ first assignment in division one.

Should they progress, they’ll then play the winner of the Bathurst Panthers Blue and Bathurst Panthers Gold semi-final.

Leeton provides the Eagle’s under 14s girls’ side with its semi-final clash today while Griffith (under 14s boys), Cootamundra Cougars (under 16 girls) and the Narrandera Knights (under 16 boys) face-off against Orange sides in the sudden death semis.

Spirit-Jones said just having five teams in the finals was a feat in itself.

“We entered five teams in the competition this year and all five have made the finals. It showcases our young athletes and the program the committee at Orange Basketball has implemented to grow the sport within Orange,” she said.

“It’s great to see. If people come down they’ll witness some great games of basketball.”

The tournament will start at 8am Saturday and Sunday.

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