Orange High's mixed preparation for NSW netball knoclout series

HIGH ACHIEVERS: Orange High's (left) Isabel Mcleod, Maddy Tufuga, Katie Eslick, Laura Harris, Chloe Riley, Alex Kennedy, Maddie Hales, Sophie Kloosterman, Helena Griffith, Cheynoah Merchant and Abby Tilburg are off to test themselves against the state's best public school netball teams. Photo: MICHELLE COOK 0901mchighA

HIGH ACHIEVERS: Orange High's (left) Isabel Mcleod, Maddy Tufuga, Katie Eslick, Laura Harris, Chloe Riley, Alex Kennedy, Maddie Hales, Sophie Kloosterman, Helena Griffith, Cheynoah Merchant and Abby Tilburg are off to test themselves against the state's best public school netball teams. Photo: MICHELLE COOK 0901mchighA

THERE have been good and bad aspects to Orange High’s preparation for this week’s NSW Combined High Schools girls’ netball knockout series.

The team is in the top 16 in the state after taking out the Western CHS title in March and will play on Tuesday and Wednesday in Wollongong.

The good part of the team’s preparation was last Saturday’s Orange Netball Association division one minor semi-final where they scored a 35-31 win over Royal Hawks.

The downside was on Sunday they lost midcourter Laura Harris with a dislocated shoulder while she played in the Central West State League competition.

The team has been plagued with injures all season but coach Tegan Dray said it has only made her players stronger.

“Our strength is our flexibility to be able to move around and adapt to changes,” Dray said.

As always, the final 16 stage of the knockout is tough and it will be no different this year. The 16 teams are divided into two pools of eight, with Orange coming up against some tough opposition.

“We’re in a particularly hard pool,” Dray said. “There’s a lot of sports high schools as well as Northern Beaches College, which finished second last year.”

Also in Orange’s pool are Endeavour Sports High, Elderslie High, The Hills Sports High, Inverell High, Lambton High and Illawarra Sports High.

The other pool includes Westfield Sports High and Bega, Corowa, Warners Bay, Kirrawee, Terrigal, Macksville and St Clair high schools.

They play a round robin with their pools today, with each game made up of two 13-minute halves. Performances today are key as where they finish after the seven games will determine whether they’re in the play-offs for the top or bottom eight tomorrow.

Dray admitted some niggling injuries mean the team’s goals are not as concrete as they have been in previous years.

“The goals had to be a little bit more flexible with our injuries,” she said. 

“The main thing is the girls enjoy themselves and do the best they can.”

Helena Griffith has come into the side in place of the injured Harris.

ORANGE HIGH: Katie Eslick, Maddie Hales, Maddy Tufuga, Alex Kennedy, Cheynoah Merchant, Laura Harris (injured), Helena Griffith, Chloe Riley, Abby Tilburg, Sophie Kloosterman, Isabel McLeod. Coach: Tegan Dray.

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