WARRNAMBOOL Seahawks’ under 14 basketballers are the champions of country Victoria.
The Tim Rantall-coached Seahawks defeated Geelong 38-29 in their division one grand final at Bendigo late yesterday to claim the memorable title.
The win, which capped off an undefeated three days, gave the young basketballers their second country crown. They won the under 12 title in 2012.
Rantall, speaking to The Standard en route back to Warrnambool, said he was stoked with his players’ efforts against some of the best in the bush.
Warrnambool beat Southern Peninsula, Bellarine and Wangaratta in its pool matches on Saturday, scoring more than 60 points in each match.
Victories against Horsham, Traralgon and Ballarat on Sunday then ensured the Seahawks played in the division one finals yesterday.
They beat Wodonga 68-23 in their quarter-final but had to come from seven points down with four minutes to go to shock Moe 43-40 in a semi-final.
The grand final was a tight affair before the Seahawks pulled away. Jay Rantall hit 12 points and Bayley McGowan and Hayden Rhook dropped seven each.
Other squad members were Cooper Atchison, Jarra Blackney-Noter, Paddy O’Brien, Dominic Occhipinti, Isaac Thomas and Liam Herbert.
“The last couple of years they’ve always been a group that drives themselves.
“They motivate themselves at training,” Tim Rantall said.
“Once one can do something, they all try and copy it. They’ve got a lot of drive and will to win.
“They’re not a selfish group of kids either. They share it around and everyone gets an opportunity. We don’t rely on one player. We’ve got nine players that really contribute.”
Rantall said the title would earn the Seahawks the right to take on the best club sides in Australia at two tournaments over the June long weekend and in October.
But Rantall wasn’t the only coach celebrating. His Warrnambool Mermaids under 14 counterpart Allan McCullagh was also rapt with his girls’ result.
The Mermaids played off in division two after winning three of their four pool matches on Saturday but none on Sunday.
They beat Wodonga 44-29 in their division two quarter-final yesterday but lost to Shepparton 44-23 in the semi-final.
“It was a sensational effort. It was way above what we expected. Last year we came last,” McCullagh said.
“This year it was more enjoy it, get the experience. It’s a big show up there so go and enjoy it and learn from it.
“But they played really well. It was great for girls’ basketball in Warrnambool.”
Hamilton Hurricanes, Portland Coasters and Terang Tornadoes also had sides contest the country championships at Bendigo.
The Hurricanes defeated the Coasters in the boys’ division three grand final 54-40. Their girls’ sides matched the Mermaids by playing off in division two.