ABA and Denmark return home from BWA Country Champs with strong results across several divisions
The Albany Basketball Association senior men’s team ended their Basketball WA country championship campaign on a positive note, claiming the second division title on Monday.
Albany endured a tough qualifying streak March 4-6, dropping six of their seven games to finish sixth in the eight-team event.
However they came back strongly, putting together two strong performances in their semi-final and in their subsequent big clash, defeating the Busselton Blazers to win the second division trophy.
The first team played in Busselton, two Bunbury teams (1 and 2), WA metro under-18, WA Country under-18 and Margaret River.
Albany’s only qualifying win came against the Bunbury 3, led by the attacking attack of Luke Wilson, Mason Tion and Jordan Pansoy.
Wilson went to work in the paint to finish with a game-high 12 points, while Tion sank two threes one for 10 points.
Sharp guard Pansoy hit a three-pointer and finished with 10 points.
Their sixth-placed finish set up a semi-final clash against Margaret River.
Albany went down by nine points in their final qualifier against Margaret River, but overturned that score with a thrilling three-point semi-final win.
Jordi O’Neill erupted in a dominant offensive performance, sinking five 3-pointers on his way to 28 points with Tion (12) and Wilson (8) playing key supporting roles in the 66-63 triumph.
They took all the momentum from that game into the decider against Busselton, emerging with a crushing 19-point victory to clinch the title.
Tion shone on the big stage, scoring 16 points (two three-pointers) on his way to the grand final’s Most Valuable Player awards, while Yero Elliott (11) and O’Neill (11) also chipped in.
O’Neill was Albany’s leading scorer and seventh overall with 94 points in the three-day contest.
In the women’s 1/2 division, Albany performed strongly in their six qualifying matches, winning four of their matches to finish second in the standings.
Albany recorded wins over Esperance, Busselton and Australind on Saturday and Sunday and wrapped up their campaign with a five-point win over Karratha on Monday.
Their biggest win came against Busselton in round three with prolific scorer Brodie Dixon scoring a game-high 20 points in a 61-28 win.
However, Karratha prevailed in the semi-final on Monday, edging out Albany by 10 points to end the second-placed side’s hopes of title glory.
Karratha raced into a commanding 22-11 lead at half-time and despite Albany matching their scoring in the second half, it was for nothing as they trailed 23-33 at the final whistle.
Dynamic tall Narelle Humphries top-scored for Albany with seven points, while Dixon (6) produced strong offensive output as Albany crashed out of the tournament.
Albany captain Rebecca Benson finished the competition as the third highest scorer with 77 points.
In the men’s three-category tournament, Denmark missed the finals after one win, one draw and four losses.
Denmark’s only win came against Eaton in the third round, Liam Murdock leading his team to a 55-48 triumph with a 21-point performance.
Sharp forward David Arthur excelled in their 41-all tie with Pinjarra, hitting two hat-tricks on his way to a team-high 20 points.
The Danish fourth division side missed out on a place in the final after four wins and one loss in their five games.
Todd Brown (15) and Jed Schwarzbach shone in their only 47-42 win over Newdegate.
In the men’s fifth category, Denmark narrowly missed out on the final after finishing their tournament in seventh place in Group B.
Rivah Bocian scored 72 points in his seven games.
Albany’s top three women’s team narrowly missed out on title glory after a heavy loss in the grand final against Harvey Heat.
They finished with four wins and one defeat in the qualifiers before falling to a 46-9 loss to the impressive Harvey outfit.
In the women’s division four, Denmark won the title after a dominant 37-19 triumph over Cunderdin in the grand final.
Lily Parker-Halstead chipped in 10 points in the upset win as she finished her season as the fifth-leading scorer with 67 points.
Amber Nekel won grand final MVP honors for Denmark.
Albany recorded four wins and one loss in their qualifying matches in the same division before going out in the semi-finals after a 17-21 loss to Cunderdin.
The Albany masters team finished runners-up, beating Bunbury Blue 18-53 in their grand final.
Albany won four of five qualifying games and defeated Bridgetown 42-12 in the semifinals.
Heath Paunic displayed his offensive skills throughout the season, finishing with 56 points to finish as the second leading scorer in the division.