Warrnambool teenager rises to challenge at Australian Country Junior Basketball Cup

LUKAS Essenwanger’s rapid rise as a basketballer hit another milestone on the weekend.

The Warrnambool teenager belied his two years’ playing experience to perform a vital role for under 16 boys’ silver medallist Vic Bushrangers at the Australian Country Junior Basketball Cup in Albury.

Lukas, 14, dropped 10 points in the Bushrangers’ 57-53 loss to South Australian Magpies in the gold medal play-off.

Vic Bushrangers won six of their seven pool games, with their only loss to New South Wales.

“They (SA Magpies) played really well that game,” Lukas said of the title-deciding match.

“The day before they beat NSW in the semi-final so they were going well but we beat them two days before.

“I was very disappointed we didn’t win gold but it was still good to come second.”

Lukas, who already stands 190 centimetres tall, played centre for Vic Bushrangers.

The Warrnambool College student said he was content with his overall performances at the five-day tournament but left knowing what areas of his game he needed to focus on.

“On Wednesday the game against South Australia I thought it was probably my best game,” he said. “I think I scored 20-plus points.

“I probably need to work on my strength.

“I was a bit weak up there and they were big kids. It was a hard competition, everyone was good.”

Lukas’ next aim is to make the Victorian under 16 team. 

The national championships are in Geelong in July.

Lukas said he was unsure of his chances of making the state team but was pleased with his improvement since taking on the sport two years ago.

“(Warrnambool Seahawks coach) Bobby Cunningham got me into it,” he said.

“He saw me at school and because I am tall he said ‘come and play at Port Fairy’.”

Lukas was one of eight players to represent Warrnambool at the tournament.

Jeremy Bolden, Oliver Bidmade and Riley Harris played at under 18 level, while Isaac Thomas, Liam Herbert, Georgia McCullagh and Faith Thomas were in the under 14 section.

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