18 young Colliers selected to represent Lanarkshire at 2014 National Challenge
Over 270 boys and girls from across Scotland competed in the under 12s National Basketball Challenge at the Lagoon Leisure Centre in Paisley on May 17th and 18th. The action packed weekend saw 16 boys teams from Tayside & Fife, Grampian, Highlands, West, East and Central competing for victory on Saturday and a further 11 girls teams took to the court for action on the Sunday.
Historically in South Lanarkshire Reach for the Sky Basketball have nominated players from their grass root development structure to represent the Lanarkshire Squad, however this year with the emergence of the Colliers, players were nominated from the Colliers U12 teams and the U10s.
Players from Colliers, St Maurice’s Rocks and Cumbernauld Chiefs attended St Maurice’s High School in Cumbernauld to try out for the squad and 18 of the young Collier players were selected to represent Lanarkshire. From the under 10s LJ Milligan, John O’Neil and Erin Mackay all earned a spot and Zach Fields, Stuart Barton, Aedan Kelly, Fraser MacDonald, Mathew Bell, Tom Milligan and Shaun Thomas were all selected for the under 12 boys squad. Katie Burn, Carla Crowther, Natalie Clark, Katie McGee, Rebecca Gunn, Abigail Paterson, Emma McKinnon and Laura Thompson were also selected for the under 12 girls.
The Lanarkshire U12 boys were up first on the Saturday and despite some promising play, they couldn’t really get going slipping down the table and finishing in 10th place.
Collier’s Coach Aarron Mitchinson representing Lanarkshire on the day commented: “the first game was very close the team only lost out by two basket’s; being ahead most of the game I think the nerves got the best of them and they couldn’t finish with a win.
“The boys started to become more relaxed and went on winning their second game. However the last game of the qualification round was up against Falkirk who were a strong candidate to win the National Challenge; the boys went out trying to recreate their last win but struggled with the height and ability of Falkirk. Finishing in the bronze group I was still happy with what the Lanarkshire team had done.
“The afternoon brought us up against another tough group, winning the first game helped build the team’s confidence. The second game against Stirling was the real test for the team, Stirling started of strong but with the Lanarkshire boys digging deep they kept themselves in the game trading baskets up and down the court.
“With the game tied and a chance to win it, a shot was fired from the Lanarkshire squad and was very unlucky to not go in, Stirling got the rebound and scored on the other side, we had less than 5 seconds for a last minute heave but unfortunately the ball did not reach the hoop.
“The last game, the boys went out with their heads high and managed to take a commanding victory to finish of the day.
“Overall this was a fun day for everyone, the boys, coaches, and parents who came to support the team. They won three and lost three, which was a great result for a team that was brought together a week before the challenge.”
The U12 girls played their games on the Sunday and got off to a really good start winning their first 3 games with ease. The run of wins continued as they remained undefeated and made it to the gold section. After defeating Highland and East Lothian the girls faced Paisley in the deciding game.
Unfortunately the girls lost out by 5 points and finished a very credible 2nd place. To place so high in the rankings speaks volumes for Lanarkshire basketball and for the Colliers girls.
Collier’s Coach Gemma Kelly representing Lanarkshire on the day added: "the girls started the morning in the bronze group and worked their way up to the gold group with two strong wins. The girls immediately identified key players within these teams and continued to step up the intensity working hard at both ends of the court."
"I am very proud of them and their achievement of coming 2nd, they gave it their all from the beginning working hard, getting everyone involved, playing with a positive attitude, they listened to the coaches and most importantly had fun. The girls lost their final game to Paisley by 5 points but the Lanarkshire team showed great passion, work ethic, potential and are a credit to themselves, their clubs and were a joy to coach."
An all-star five from both sections were chosen and one of our own was included for the girls:
The second ever U10 National Challenge will take place on the 7th-8th June at The Peak in Stirling.
The U10 National Challenge will see more than 220 players coming together to celebrate basketball and to highlight their basketball pathway. These players have been competing in the U10 Regional Development Leagues throughout the course of the season, thanks to the links created through local and national partners.
On Saturday 13 boys teams will travel to Stirling from across the country to compete in four round robin groups to decide the groupings for the second stage of the competition, which will determine the final placing’s. The girls will then play on the Sunday in three round robin groups before advancing to the second group phase, nine teams are taking part.
We wish all the Colliers players the very best as well as all the other players who have been selected.
Valentina Palla – Paisley
Polly Anna Storey – Edinburgh
Laura Thompson – Lanarkshire (Colliers)
Hayley Todd – Tayside & Fife
Marie Morrison – Highland