It is not too often that you see a Venom team play against one of their own. Yet on Friday May 16, it was mate against mate, Venom versus Venom, as the 12.3 top-age boys took on the 12.4 bottom age boys in a monster local derby at the Warrandyte Sports Complex.
Gibbo's 12.3 boys came into the game undefeated and on top of the ladder, whilst Andrew's 12.4 boys limped into the game with just the 1 win after an amazing grading campaign. It was always going to be a battle of attrition as the two teams that train together know each other inside out, and it promised to be a cracker!
The top-age boys jumped their younger counterparts early, displaying hunger for the loose ball, as they ran their training companions ragged up the court. Matt and Chris were leading the 12.3's and coupled with some smart play from Steven and Conor, the 12.4 boys were up against the ropes.
After some timely substitutions, the bottom-age 12.4's bit back through some tough shots by Daniel and Tom and some great defensive efforts from Sam and Lachie. With an increase in defensive intensity, Andrew's team were able to keep in touch on the scoreboard heading into the second half.
After the main break, the younger Venom came out strongly once again, yet just when it mattered Gibbo's team stood tall to hold off their charge. Liam began to assert himself for the 12.4's, as did his namesake for the 12.3's. Yet as much as the 12.4's fought back, the 12.3's managed to hold a 10 points or more buffer.
With just 7 players Gibbo's team began to tire, and foul trouble was starting to catch up with them with Ben fouling out. With just a few minutes remaining the younger team were still down by more than 10. Never once giving up, Andrew's young charges continued to fight. The two Josh's were outstanding, and coupled with some great late game scoring and free throw shooting by Joel, Daniel and Tom, they all ensured the final result was respectable in the end.
Whilst the 12.3's took the win on the scoreboard on this occasion, both teams and basketball in Warrandyte were the clear winners in what was a highly skilled and entertaining game. The future is certainly bright for the Venom boys program judging by the level of skill and talent on display in this game. Both teams celebrated their efforts around the corner at club sponsor Pasta Mania after the game.
Following the local derby, the 12.1 boys took on local rivals Doncaster in what promised to be a tough game for a Venom team that has been out of sorts recently. With Michael and Campbell missing the game, the Panthers started strongly and clearly had the Venom rattled, using their speed and full court press to great effect. Doncaster forced the Venom into lazy turnovers leading to a 12-38 half-time deficit. It was a very disappointing effort by all accounts, not taking anything away from Doncaster who was very good.
Clearly not enjoying their basketball, the boys were encouraged to play with some passion and some pride, and have a real 'crack'. Nobody enjoys basketball when you are not playing together as a team. Along with a change in tactics, the boys were hopeful of a more productive second half.
Sticking to the game plan, the Venom started strongly scoring the first 4 points of the third quarter leading to a Doncaster timeout. Was this the same Venom team that had played the first half? Despite the Panthers best efforts, Warrandyte continued to worry the Panthers into taking poor shots and began to look more cohesive in offence. Nick and Josh were playing outstanding basketball, and their team mates were starting to follow suit. Despite losing Jaye early to a 5th foul, the Venom continued to build momentum.
Whilst the half time deficit proved too large to overhaul, the Venom finished the game off strongly and confidently. The aggression and hunger for the ball that had been lacking appeared to have returned as exemplified by David's great second half. In fact the Venom won the second half 16-12 to highlight the potential the boys have when they play hard together as a team. The momentum generated in the great second half now needs to be carried over in next week's game against the winless Dandenong at home. A win for the Venom will not come easy, however if they work hard together as a team, and display the same passion and aggression, then things are looking much brighter for this talented team.
Desperate to win their first game of the season, the 12.2 boys of David Daniel were hungry for that elusive win against Craigieburn at home. With three losses of 5 points or less along with a draw, surely a win was just around the corner?
The first half of the game was the best basketball this team has ever played. They started the game by pressing and this resulted in the Venom creating an eight point lead. The Craigieburn coach called a time out and put in a press breaker, and immediately the Venom reverted back to their stifling man-to-man defense. This is where the boys won the match!
It was great defence by Sean, Nathan and James who prevented Craigieburn from getting the ball to mid court which resulted in Venom scoring 5 unanswered baskets. However the Eagles fought back to score the last 4 points of the first half.
The second half was a dog fight and Venom boys struggled to break Craigieburn's zone defense. Some poor shooting decisions were costly, with the Venom scoring just 7 points in the second half. However Daniel's team managed to hang on with a deserved 40 to 37 point win.
Coach Daniel was very proud of all the boys in this team, stating that, "They always give 100% every week and are coming along very nicely. Well done to Nathan, Josh, Jules, James, Justin, Sean, Connor and Ryan, a great effort team!”
All four of Warrandyte Venom's under 12 boys teams have registered to play in the Nunawading Spectres Junior Tournament to be held over the Queen's Birthday long weekend in June. Joining them will be a development team comprising of a sample of the talent currently taking part in the Venom Future Forces program. Success breeds success, and there is plenty of it at Warrandyte Venom!