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Newcastle Basketball teens shine at national competition

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Seven Newcastle Basketball juniors have represented their state in a battle against some of the nation’s best athletes at the weekend, competing in the 2024 Southern Cross Challenge in Melbourne. 

The four boys and three girls, all Newcastle Falcons representative players, proudly wore the NSW blues uniform throughout the four-day event.

The championship is widely considered Australia’s most prestigious junior basketball tournament.

The group joined 520 athletes from Victoria, NSW, South Australia, Tasmania and Queensland testing out their skills on the 18 courts of Melbourne’s new $132 million State Basketball Centre.

While builders were adding the final touches to the pristine structure that’s expected to attract more than two million visitors per year, teens aged 13 to 15 were fighting for court time. 

The boys won three of their five games, bowing out in the semi-final against Victoria. 

The girls’ team won a clean sweep, winning games in a nail-biting finish, before battling WA in Monday’s grand final match. 

The girls were also lucky enough to rub shoulders with basketball legend Lauren Jackson during the weekend, joining the Southside Flyers WNBL team for a morning training session.

And, while the SCC prides itself on being a tournament focused on the development of athletes, this was also a weekend that allowed the showcase of talents from a much wider pool, with players spanning both country and metro hometowns.

In NSW alone, athletes had travelled from Albury, Illawarra, Wagga Wagga, Penrith, Narrendera and Newcastle.

“The focus of the tournament is to give the athletes the opportunity to experience a competitive atmosphere that they can learn from and develop, with many previous athletes developing into elite athletes that have competed nationally and internationally,” say SCC organisers. 

Winners at the tournament were crowned 2024 champions and awarded perpetual trophies named in honour of some of the host state’s most successful basketball exports – David Anderson, Matthew Dellavedova, Rachel Jarry and Jenna O’Hea. 

While the NSW teams may have missed out on top honours at this year’s tournament, their efforts deserve recognition, including our homegrown talent.

“We’re very proud of what these players have achieved this weekend,” Newcastle Basketball coach Todd Turner said.

“It’s a privilege to be representing NSW and I’m sure this will be an experience they’ll reflect on well into the future.

“It’s a great opportunity to play against some of the best and I think they’ve done themselves proud this weekend.” 

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