POPPY Myers says playing with confidence and on instinct are two lessons she'll take from the Basketball Australia under 16 championships.
The Port Fairy-based Warrnambool-aligned player was part of Vic Country's medal tilt in Western Australia on Sunday, with fellow Port Fairy teenager Eve Covey, who was injured mid-tournament, and Terang-based team manager Lisa Chesshire supporting from the sidelines.
Vic Country fell two points short of Vic Metro in the bronze medal match after clawing its way back from a 13-point half-time deficit.
Myers, 14, said she was proud of the team's efforts in the 55-53 defeat, particularly given three players were sidelined with injury.
The teenager scored five points, had two assists and a steal from 15 minutes' court time in the bronze medal match.
"It's definitely a faster game to what we play down here so you have to get into the swing of it first," Myers said. "The intensity was different too. Our team work was really good.
"(I learned) just to enjoy myself and take the opportunity while it was there."
Vic Country hit the front in the dying stages of the bronze medal battle before Vic Metro regained the advantage on the final play.
Myers said Vic Country took positives out of the result.
We came into the tournament sort of as underdogs. Everyone was pretty proud of what we did.- Poppy Myers
"At the time everyone was quite disappointed but I am pretty sure everyone didn't expect us to go as well as we did," she said. "We came into the tournament sort of as underdogs. Everyone was pretty proud of what we did."
Covey, 14, who lined up in four of eight matches, said she enjoyed her time at the championships despite "a disappointing" final match result.
"It was a great bunch of girls and great coaching staff," she said. "And to achieve what we achieved with three starters getting injured and still giving Metro a good run for their money (was great)."
Covey's best performance came on the Wednesday against Tasmania, the teenager banking nine points, four rebounds and three assists in the 78-52 win.
But with an ankle injury sustained a month-and-a half ago flaring up again, Covey said she pivoted to supporting her teammates off-court as best she could.
"I just tried to get up on the bench and bring as much energy as I could, celebrate every shot we made and get the energy up," she said. "And hopefully that impacted the girls to bring that energy on court."
Covey said she would take a lot out of her time playing on the national stage.
"Coming in as a bottom-ager, I was thinking I wouldn't get that many minutes and to end up in the starting five and getting a good amount of minutes was pretty awesome," she said.
"It will push me, it was a great learning curve too. The intensity over there was so much greater than the intensity you play at a squad level."
Chesshire said the entire Vic Country playing group did everyone proud, and credited its resiliency in the face of a number of off-court adversities playing out behind-the-scenes.
"We scraped together, fought hard, found ways to win games we shouldn't have and rallied with each other," Chesshire said. "They invested in each other, listened to the coach and worked hard."
Chesshire, who has held a management role with Basketball Victoria Country for eight years, said her second national championship experience meant long days but was "so rewarding".
"I couldn't ask for a better group of girls," she said. "In regards to Poppy and Eve, that's their first time on the big stage. Eve developed as a player mentally and physically in her four games, and Poppy's out there, she's quick. They did Warrnambool proud.
"It's so rewarding to know those girls will go onto bigger and better things."
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