For the bulk of the players from the Orange Eagles under-18 outfit, the John Martin Tournament would be their swansong in junior representative basketball.
And what a swansong it was, the side going through the long weekend tournament undefeated to claim the division two championship title.
The Eagles, under the guide of head coach Kieran Purvis, won every game comfortably, with their group stage yielding positive results of 50-38 over Goulburn, 52-23 over Gosford, 40-16 over Newcastle and 35-25 over Illawarra.
They met Illawarra again in the semi-final, winning 41-26 before trouncing Goulburn in the final 51-22.
They were one of several Eagles sides which went away to the tournament, which was held in different locations for different age groups, while the Western Reds representative sides also travelled – with some players representing both Orange and the Reds, nearly doubling the number of games played.
The tournament is to qualify for the Country Championships League (CCL) later on in the year.
The under 16 Orange Eagles side had already qualified for the CCL, so used the tournament as a training run.
The side didn’t win a game while away, coach Steve Maier said before the long weekend he would look to change a few things around with his side in preparation for playing at a higher level and not focus on the scoreboard.
They will be the only Eagles side in the CCL, with the division two title for the under 18s not enough to see them qualify.
Orange will have representatives in the CCL outside the under 16s girls, however, with Samantha Harvey representing the under-14 girls, Fritz Johnks-Tavana, Charlie Kemp and Jayden Baker in the under-16 boys and Clary Annis-Brown and Charlie Crisp in the under-18 boys, while the Reds under-16 girls also qualified for the CCL.
Orange Eagles representative coordinator Craig Harvey, whose daughter Samantha played for both the under-14 Eagles and Reds sides over the weekend, clocking up more than 12 games, said he was excited to see Orange players getting experience at the higher level.
“It was great to see a lot of them played for Reds and Eagles and that was a big effort,” Harvey said.
“The under-18 girls played really, really well and it was good to see.”
Harvey coached the under-14 girls in division three at the tournament and said there were mixed results, but there were positives and plenty of experience to be taken out of the weekend.
However, the most positive aspect of the weekend was the “camaraderie” shown by parents and players who are normally on opposite sides of the courts.
“It wasn’t just Reds games but we’d go and support Cootamundra or Bathurst or Goulburn and cheer them on, and parents would be catching up in corridors and it was really reassuring to see.”
One frustration for Harvey was that a lot of results have yet to be finalised, leaving him unsure of Monday’s results and final placing for many Orange sides, such as the Reds under-14 girls, who he thinks have finished in third, but isn’t sure.
The CCL will kick off in August.