Raw talent drives junior basketball success

The Churchill Basketball Association's under-10 A grade side has dominated this season. photograph hayley mills

The Churchill Basketball Association's under-10 A grade side has dominated this season. photograph hayley mills

BASKETBALL

A band of junior basketballers from Churchill have put the finishing touches on a dream season where they won an outstanding 40 games from 42 outings.

The under 10 A grade boys from the Churchill Basketball Association came together in September last year but coach Jason Sutherland was not to know what would become of the side.

"In the association we have 26 kids in under 10 and only eight turned up to the tryouts, so all eight of them were selected in the A grade side," Sutherland said.

"Being in under 10s, if you've got a couple of kids that are especially good then the others get dragged along and that's what happened with us."

What started as a group of "very, very raw talent" flourished to become a complete and dominant outfit.

The Blue Devils entered seven tournaments and won five of them, with the only two losses in an otherwise perfect season coming in the semi final and grand final of two major events.

They capped their run of dominance with a resounding win at the prestigious Melbourne Tigers Tournament at the weekend, fending off strong teams from Eltham, Glen Waverley, Moe and Traralgon in the process.

"I've been in Churchill squads since 1985 and they've always punched above their weight but we've never had a team that has dominated like this in A grade," Sutherland said.

"We might win one here or there but to win all four local tournaments we've entered is something you don't normally have."

Made up of eight and nine-year-olds, the under 10 side has also taken all before them in the domestic season.

"The boys play in the above age group in under 12s and haven't lost a game," Sutherland said.

"I've got some bigger kids but they all hold their own ... so they're just doing a fantastic job."

Sutherland admitted the side's ascendency was "pretty special", particularly given the young players still have plenty of growing and learning to do.

"We chatted with the boys about it after the grand final last week and they know they've done something special," he said.

"When you start winning it breeds confidence and they start enjoying sport more and they'll just keep improving."

However, what has impressed Sutherland more than anything has been the Blue Devils' attitude off court.

"They're very good mates, the group I've got," he said.

"I don't have any that are show-offs or disrespectful, and winning so many games you'd think you'd get some kids that are really arrogant, but they're really far from it and they're really, really grounded."

The side will play in the Morwell tournament later this month and Sutherland said the ultimate goal was to progress to division one in the Country Championships.

"I think they're capable of doing that. They've beaten everyone in front of us and most games have been double digits wins," he said.

"The kids will develop a lot over the next 24 months so we've got to continue to work hard and help them grow.

"For a town like Churchill that's copped a bit of a hiding for a while ... to give them something to aspire to is great."

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