Sport isn’t always about winning, but it’s a lot more fun when you are.
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With five weeks between the successful Swan Hill campaign and their next championship, the Benalla Breakers Under-12 boys basketball squad bunkered down.
After their undefeated run in their previous tournament, the Breakers spent time fine-tuning their gameplay before hitting the road for the Shepparton McDonald’s Junior Tournament, held over the first weekend in December.
The outfit was quietly confident as they came face-to-face with the Bendigo Braves in Nathalia on Saturday, December 2.
Benalla was shocked into gear by the Braves, who fought tooth-and-nail to stay up with the in-form Breakers.
Benallaites successfully focused on funnelling the ball to star shooter Jackson Quarrell, and the side secured the win by a one-point margin.
The Saturday night match proved to be straightforward against the Shepparton Gators in Tatura.
Benalla’s top-aged guns shared around the scoring in a comprehensive win.
The most successful teams have healthy competition between their players, which encourages the players to lift their standards to new heights.
This was the case with the Breakers as teammates jostled for the position of lead team shooter throughout the tournament.
Teddy Sheehan risked his game to have one hand on the title at the end of day one.
Coach Sheree Jackson also had time to work with her newest and youngest players as Maximus Reynolds joined the bigger boys to bring the points home.
At 8am on Sunday morning, an energised and enthusiastic Benalla convoy converged on Shepparton.
The boys hit the ground running as they demolished Mansfield.
Despite playing a less experienced team, the Breakers played like a well-oiled machine.
Even though the mercy rule was used, that did not stop the Benalla wingmen, Darcy Mort and Lachlan Jackson, from spreading their wings to improve their own points tallies.
The top-age shooters shared the spotlight as Caleb Thwaites took hold of the lead shooter position.
The strong new presence of Cooper Pilkington shooting his first-ever points for a tournament game had the crowd up and about.
The last round against the Deni Giants (orange) was the largest margin the Benalla boys won by over the weekend with an incredible 49-point win.
Quarrell was on fire, shooting 22 points, and all players contributed with incredible accuracy.
Jackson utilised this competition time to coach individual players to maximise their strengths and use their court time to work as a team.
Pilkington smashed in another three-pointers, equalling the tally of another young gun, Maximus Reynolds, who is renowned for his speed and accuracy.
As winners of Pool A, the Breakers played the Pool B ladder winners, the Deni Giants (black), in the grand final.
The Giants were also undefeated in their campaign thus far.
It was a nervous beginning, but by midway through the first half, Benalla was pulling away.
Benalla had a giant of their own, Teddy Sheean, who dominated the game as he easily thwarted all efforts to bring him down to size.
He capably shot 21 points, deservedly winning the most valuable player of the match and the goal shooter of the tournament with 63 in total.
Quarrell was an incredibly close runner-up with 55 match points as both Teddy and “Quaz” had shot 27 tqo-pointers for the tournament, but Teddy had pulled ahead with nine one-pointers topping it off.
Thwaites took home fourth place.
The boys now have a nine-week break until their next tournament on February 9 next year.
The Wodonga Tournament will be a special event where they will all be getting used to the “new normal”, training without their beloved and talented coach, Sheree.
They’ll also be without star young gun Lachlan Jackson, who is moving away to a new chapter of their family journey living in Bright.
Will the team be able to continue its reign of undefeated triumph in the face of its new challenges?
Only time will tell.