SUCCESS: Bathurst’s Nikki Collins and her team-mates took out the inaugural Central West State League Division 2 under 17s crown on Sunday. Photo: MEGAN FOSTER 0803OvBnetballMF7
WHILE Orange are the undisputed heavyweights of senior netball in the Central West, on Sunday there was an indication a change is on the horizon when Bathurst took out the inaugural under 17s Central West State League Division 2 crown.
The Division 1 open age State League competition, which Orange won for an impressive 19th consecutive year on Sunday, has been long running but an under 17s Division 2 competition was new for 2014.
Bathurst had been the form side throughout the pool rounds of the competition and they extended that dominance in Orange on Sunday as they beat Cowra 43-17 in the semi-final then Orange Black 37-25 in the decider.
“It was pretty damn awesome to win because Orange always wins everything. I certainly don’t begrudge them that and they play well, but it was so nice to beat them for once,” Bathurst coach Catherine Welch said.
“We beat them at the under 17s State Championships earlier this year and if the girls got all the way through to the State League final to lose, it would have been very disappointing.”
While Bathurst had been confident of making the Division 2 final,, they suffered a pair of setbacks before making the trip to Orange.
Shooter Carina Floyd was ruled out after it was discovered she had been playing the last month with a stress fracture in her leg, while tall defender Ebony Hotham was away at a volleyball tournament.
However, the rest of the Bathurst players lifted in their absence.
“Ebony is the tallest girl in our team, but our other two defenders were solid. Without those two the rest of our girls just went out on court and did the job,” Welch said.
“They all played well, no-one really had a bad game, and that is why they have been so successful. But if I had to pick a best player, then it would be Claudia McLaren.”
While she was initially selected as a centre court player, McLaren’s versatility at being able to cover all positions was invaluable to Bathurst.
McLaren and her team-mates made short work of Cowra in their first game on Sunday as they won by 26 goals, while Orange Black defeated Orange White 31-28 in the other semi-final.
Neither of those results surprised Welch.
“They played Cowra in the semi-final and they just played great. We knew we could beat Cowra, as we had beaten them quite convincingly on the other games, but we knew no matter what we would be playing an Orange side in the final, so we used this game as a practice for that,” she said.
Welch’s side took the early advantage inthe grand final as they led 10-5 at the first break.
While Orange reduced that to two goals at half-time, after the main break it was all Bathurst.
Bathurst held an eight-goal advantage with a quarter left to play and they pushed on to post a 37-25 win and take out the Division 2 crown.
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