Four Horsham Amateur Basketball Association juniors to represent

PROGRESS: Eloise Wills, Austin McKenzie, Ben Hobbs and Brodie Pope will represent the region. Picture: ELIJAH MACCHIA
PROGRESS: Eloise Wills, Austin McKenzie, Ben Hobbs and Brodie Pope will represent the region. Picture: ELIJAH MACCHIA

FOUR junior Horsham Amateur Basketball Association players have been selected to play at either the Southern Cross Challenge in Melbourne or the Australian Junior Country Basketball Cup in Albury. 

Both tournaments will be played in January. 

Brodie Pope, Ben Hobbs, Austin McKenzie and Eloise Wills were selected from the Basketball Victoria Country’s Gold Nugget Camp and the under-16 National Intensive Training Program tryouts in Shepparton last week. 

Former Horsham Amateur Basketball Association players and current Ballarat basketballers Jordie McAuliffe and Jeramiah McKenzie will be playing in Albury. 

Hobbs said himself and McKenzie would be at the Australian Junior Country Basketball Cup instead of the Southern Cross Challenge in 2018. 

“It will be good to see how we go against country teams instead of metro teams, because metro teams are a bit stronger,” he said. 

McKenzie said he was looking forward to meeting different people. 

“I don’t think I have ever met the country players before,” he said. 

Pope said he looked forward to training with different people and learning new skills. 

Association junior representative director Tony Sleep said Wills and Pope were at the Gold Nugget Camp

Roughly 58 players were challenging each other at the camp, 40 players made the cut to play in the January tournaments. 

Sleep said Hobbs and McKenzie trained in the National Intensive Training Program, which was not compulsory for junior basketballers. 

“There was no selection ahead of time, they chose to come along and both competed well,” he said. 

“All three boys were standouts over the two weeks of school holidays. 

“I was pleased how they put themselves forward.” 

McKenzie and Hobbs were both apart of the same program at the start of 2017, playing at the Southern Cross Challenge and the Australian Junior Country Basketball Cup. 

“This is their second year at it and if they do well they will be eligible for further state selections,” Sleep said. 

“(McKenzie and Hobbs) were invited into the emergencies for the state team last year, which is a great achievement as bottom age players.

“Now they are top age I think they will take that experience into this tournament.” 

The specific teams for the tournaments have not been released yet. 

Sleep said all four basketballers had improved over the past 12 months. 

“Ben’s basketball IQ has increased, Hobbs and McKenzie have found knowledge in the system,” he said. 

“It’s the same with Brodie and Eloise, basketball IQ starts to become the difference between being selected and not at this age. It’s what sets them apart.

“Austin is a tall, young player. He’s 14 years old and is competing in men’s grades. He puts in a lot of extra work and has come a long way.”