Finishing second wasn’t quite the finish Canobolas Rural Technology High School’s Matt Gray had in mind for his School Sport Australia Championship swansong this month, but while his outfit stumbled at the final hurdle the Orange phenom was given a pretty handy silver lining individually.
On a personal front Gray was superb at the under 18s national titles, particularly in the final, and he was was named NSW All Schools’ MVP and also earned a spot in the Australian Merit Team as a result.
That impressive effort only adds to what can easily be described as the biggest year in his burgeoning career, which has seen him claim national glory and scope out a potential international move.
Gray has represented the NSW under 20s, along with helping his Bathurst Goldminers Men’s Youth League side to a landmark Waratah League finals appearance.
He was the latter competition’s leading point-scorer as well, averaging more than 35 per game with a high of 62 against St George. He was named in the All Star V as a result and also picked up league MVP.
On top of that he’s spent time in the United States along with Bathurst’s Will Cranston-Lown, coming under the scrutiny of college scouts.
All that gives him plenty options for 2018 and beyond, which he’s weighing up.
“It has been a very big year,” Gray said.
“I’ve got a bit of college interest, but it’s just waiting it out and seeing where the best fit is for me before I decide where to go.”
Cranstown-Lown was on hand during the School Sport Australia Championship as well, it was his NSW Invitational side that handed Gray’s outfit a stunning upset in the decider.
Although NSW All Schools had won six on the trot to make it through the decider, Cranstown-Lown and his NSW Invitational side pulled off a monumental boilover, ultimately winning 74-59.
Gray dropped 19 points in that game, but it was his Goldminers chum who claimed overall braggin rights.
Gray scored 19 points in the grand final and was named the most valuable player in his side, but in the end it was Cranston-Lown who got the gold medal.
“It was my last school game, so yeah, to get a silver medal, it was pretty disheartening,” Gray admitted.
“That it was against the other New South Wales team made it a bit harder to swallow as well.
“There was 16 points in it at the end and that comes down to the last minutes, I was trying to scramble and steal the ball and fouling and that meant it kinda blew out.
“It was very close before then, we were winning then they were winning, it was close throughout. We were winning for the most part before the second half.”
Gray and Cranston-Lown were not the only Bathurst Goldminers in action at the tournament, with Sara Matthews and Olivia Dobel vying for the 18 years and under girls crown.
Matthews joined Cranston-Lown in winning a gold medal as her NSW side came from third after the round games to beat Queensland 70-60 in the decider.
That came after the Bathurst talent and her team-mates beat Victoria in over-time in their semi-final.
Dobel’s NSW Invitational side placed sixth.