HORSHAM’S under-14 boys basketball team is putting the finishing touches on its preparations for next week’s Australian Club Championships in Newcastle.
Coach Damien Kilpatrick said his team is keeping the excitement under wraps.
“We’re more focused on getting ready than thinking about it so far,” he said.
“It has been mentioned too much, we know what we’re training towards and that is the focus.”
Preparations for the championships have been ongoing since the team qualified by winning the Victorian Country Championship Division One Grand Final against Bendigo 38-34 in April.
For the first eight weeks Kilpatrick said he was focused on raising the fitness levels of his side.
“They weren’t fit at the time,” he said.
“Now their fitness levels are the best they’ve ever been.”
In recent weeks Kilpatrick said his focus has switched to skills, shooting and making sure the team knows how to run its plays in match situations.
“We’ve played four practice matches in the last two weeks,” he said.
“The under-18 boys and some of the senior hornets have been helping us out.
“At training we’ve become more focused on our shooting, running plays and working against the shot clock.”
The side has already overcome big odds to make it to the championship. Kilpatrick said he expects stiff competition.
Other participating teams have much bigger pools of players to draw from than the 200 Horsham players.
“We don’t have the six-foot 14-year-old’s that some of these areas have,” he said.
“We’ll just be there trying to work well as a team and trying hard.
“We’ve just got to do the best that we can do because the side is full of good basketballers.
“I think that we’ll be more than competitive.
“There will be some sides that we expect to beat and others that are too strong but it’s all about the good experience for the boys.”
The format of the championships sees the 24 sides broken up into six pools of four.
Horsham have been drawn against South Australia’s Sturt Sabres, the North West Tasmania Devils and Western Australia’s Geraldton Buccaneers.
The Sabres are the defending champions.
The fixtures start on Monday with each side playing three pool games over the first two games before the competition is split in two.
“It will be interesting to see where we stand against the best clubs in Australia,” Kilpatrick said.
“Worst case scenario is we finish 24th and the boys will come away with a lot more experience.
“The main thing is we got ourselves in a position to get there.”