The Mount Gambier Juniors Lakers made a most promising start to the 2012/13 Junior Tournament at Murray Bridge last weekend. The Lakers had twelve teams, including an Under 23 Men’s side, journey to the River town for the annual Junior Carnival. Lakers teams played in the eight Division 1 competitions and won five of them.

 Ninety teams from the city and country regions of S.A. competed in the three day event at six courts.

One of the highlights of the weekend was the domination of the Division 1 competitions by the Lakers’ Girls, who won three of the four titles. Their performances reflect the importance of mastering the fundamental skills of the game as emphasized by Development Officer, Trevor Semmens. Confidence in one’s ability to execute the skills well in game situations and in team-mates forms the basis for these successes.

The Lakers Under 16 Boys and Under 18 Men also won their Division 1 sections, making it five of the eight Murray Bridge Division 1 titles coming to Mount Gambier. Two other Lakers teams played in grand finals and finished runners-up, the Under 12 Girls and Under 23 Men     

The Under 14 Girls made dramatic improvement over the weekend and, after a close first half, easily accounted for Millicent in the final. Lauren Ross played a key role in this win. Coach Dan Stratford is especially pleased with the ongoing improvement of the team coming from attention to working on basic skills.  

Coach Bryan Green led the Lakers Under 16 Girls to a comfortable title win over Eastern Hills. The Lakers made obvious progress as the Tournament went on and managed to turn around their earlier narrow loss to Eastern Hills in the final. Green was pleased with the performances and made special mention of the athleticism displayed by Jordy Jones and Megan Hein. 

The Lakers Under 18 Women proved to be a class above their opponents at this Tournament and scored a solid win over Murray Bridge in the final.

Former Pioneer, Jimmy Fleming coached the Lakers Under 16 Boys to a title against metropolitan district side Woodville. The margin of 19 points is impressive and reveals the potential in this squad, which remained undefeated for the weekend. Brad Rathjen used the experience gained in playing in the district competitions to good effect to score a game high 24 points in the final.           

The Lakers Under 18 Men learnt well from their 2 point loss to Woodville on Saturday night and matched the physicality of the city players in the final as demanded by Coach Ray deWit. He commended Robert Hein and Braiden Ousey on their rebounding contests, a key factor in the Lakers turning the tables for a four point win, 44-40. Junior state representative Kane deWit displayed strong leadership skills throughout the weekend.

The Lakers Under 12 Girls made big steps in their progress in their first Tournament experience. Coach Marianne Walters commented on the players’ enthusiasm and readiness to learn about the game. They lost two games for the weekend, both to eventual winner Great Southern.

In a first for the Lakers and the Murray Bridge Tournament, an Under 23 Men’s competition was conducted. Pioneers’ Coach Richard Hill was in charge of the Lakers team, which was undefeated going into the final. An unusually high foul count against the Lakers presented a huge challenge and left them with four players on the court in the closing minutes of the final. Despite this, the Lakers gave their all but went down by just 6 points. Coach Hill praised his players and enjoyed being involved in the “grass roots” scene. He commented positively on the local program after watching many games over the weekend and is keen to be more involved in the local competitions next winter.

The Under 12 Boys improved dramatically over the Tournament but lost the quarter final while the Under 14 Boys Division 1 side won three games in their tough seven team competition.

The three Lakers Division 2 sides, which travelled to Murray Bridge, all gained valuable experience in game situations and coaches had the opportunity to assess the standing of each team in the country SA bigger picture.





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