POPPY Myers is aiming for back-to-back state team selections after playing her part in a gold medal-winning run at the Australian Country Junior Basketball Cup.
The Port Fairy-based teenager, who plays representative basketball for Warrnambool, scored seven points in Vic Bushrangers' grand final win against Vic Goldminers in the under 16 girls' section in Albury on Saturday.
The annual tournament often presents itself as an opportunity for players to impress state selectors.
Myers, who played for Victoria's under 16 team as a bottom-age prospect last year, said she had worked hard on her game since her first taste of nationals in Perth.
"It would mean the world to give it another go again, especially to do it as a top-ager too, but you just never know what could happen at this stage," she told The Standard.
"I put in as much as a I could (at the country cup)."
Myers, whose best performance was a 20-point showing against NSW Kookaburras, said the grand final victory was reward for the players' commitment.
"We played as hard as we could all week to get to where we got so we were pretty stoked to finally finish it off in a good way," the teenager, who turns 15 in February, said.
"Over the week we got better at communication on the court.
"It was good to come up against people from other states too because you never know, you could come up against them again, and we play a lot against the people in Victoria so it was good to venture out and give some other states a run for their money."
Myers played against fellow Warrnambool talents Eve Covey and Shelby O'Sullivan in the grand final with that duo walking away with silver medals.
Warrnambool's Wil Rantall played a defensive role in Vic Bushrangers' 55-50 win against NSW Waratahs in the boys' under 18 gold medal match.
"It was definitely one of the best sporting moments of my career so far, just to get that gold with those players was pretty special," he said.
"It meant a lot. We started slow, losing the first one, by the end of the tournament we were a pretty smooth team in the end and we were all connected.
"It was almost like a brotherhood out there."
The Warrnambool College student said that cohesion came to the fore in a close grand final.
"We were down most of the game but we had trust in each other to come back with about five minutes left in the last and get the win," he said.
Rantall, who has Big V experience with Warrnambool Seahawks, was happy to play his part as a stopper.
"My game was mainly picking up one of their top-scorers which was the team role I had," he said.
"Getting a couple of added points was just a bonus."
The multi-talented teenager, who is also part of Greater Western Victoria Rebels' pre-season football squad, said he relished the chance to play against high-calibre rivals.
"It was good to get that professional environment again with the schedule running around you," he said.
Myers and Rantall were among a number for south-west players invited to the tournament.
Matilda Sewell's Vic Bushrangers collected silver in the under 18 girls' section.
Ollie Harris' Vic Goldminers finished fourth in the under 18 boys' section.
Mason Osborne scored 13 points as Vic Bushrangers collected the under 16 boys' bronze medal while Roy Lucas top-scored with 15 points as Vic Goldminers snared silver in the under 14 boys' category. Madelyn Clarke was part of the Vic Goldminers team which placed sixth in the under 14 girls' section.
The next challenge for many of the players is the Bendigo tournament next weekend where they will suit up for Warrnambool's squad teams.
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