For the first time in more than two decades the NSW Primary School Sports Association Knockout trophy will take pride of place at Orange Public School (OPS), the blue and golds stormed to their breakthrough state championship title on Tuesday.
In defeating Casino West in the semi-final and then Narellan in the decider, at Penrith, OPS secured their first state championship win since 1998 and their third overall, the first came alongside Calare eight years earlier.
Orange netball legend Yvonne Keegan, affectionately known to all as 'Toot', coached OPS' last title-winning side and was on hand to gleefully watch the 2019 outfit's triumph, sealed with a 21-7 victory in the championship game.
I'm still a little bit gobsmacked ... it's just amazing.OPS assistant coach Leasa Konza
"I'm still a little bit gobsmacked, I'm not sure what to say, it's just amazing," OPS assistant coach Leasa Konza said.
"They've all worked so hard and done such an amazing job, they were so excited after the win. It was so great Toot was there to watch them win, it had been a long time since we'd made the top four, let alone won."
With another Orange legend in Lynne Middleton and Orange City defensive ace Sammie Spicer also on the coaching staff, there's no doubt the young side had the highest calibre of mentors, and it showed in the clutch on Tuesday.
The blue and golds' 14-goal win over Narellan came after a 35-19 victory in the semi-final, one Konza said truly instilled her troops with belief the state championship wasn't just a prize to hope for, those scorelines not necessarily reflecting how hard-fought those wins were.
In the former OPS led at all three breaks, turning their six-goal, half-time lead into a 16-goal margin by full-time. In the decider they led 12-4 at the main break and extended that margin by four throughout the second half.
"They were both really tough games, I think after the semi-final they really did start believing they could win and it all came together in the final, they were tough games and the girls were very hungry for the win in the final. Casino and Narellan played so well though and should be very proud, there was only one Sydney school in the top four," Konza said.
Konza said she simply couldn't highlight any individual player such was the combined effort, with the entire side of Abigail Kiely, Amy Robinson, Brianna Priest, Elsie Callaway, Emily Clunas, Emily Vanstone, Hannah Oliver, Joise Gordon-Smith, Lyla Callaway, Xanthe Huxtable and Xanthe Staniforth all playing a vital role in the triumph.
OPS earned their spot at Tuesday's gala with a quarter-final win over Eleebana Public and prior to that, a victory in the Western decider over Dubbo. In the regional preliminary stages they beat Mulyan, Condobolin, OSSA Gold and traditional rivals Calare.
Konza also heaped praise on 15-year-old whistleblower Mackenzie Smith, who earned her National C Badge back in June and continued her path as an up-and-coming umpire throughout the tournament.
She officiated superbly in a number of OPS' preliminary games and was then deservedly appointed to the semi-final and decider on Tuesday.
OPS' boys' touch football side also their crack at state glory in Monday's final series after working their way to the top eight, they beat Mulyan in the Western decider to qualify.
They were eliminated in their quarter-final, narrowly being defeated 4-3 by Old Bar Public to be shunted in to the fifth-place play-off, no mean feat regardless. Harbord Public eventually won the title, defeating Samuel Gilbert Public in the final.
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