IT WAS four wins from 17 games for the Wimmera-Mallee’s 17 and under team at the state netball titles in Werribbee.
The side started off the titles on a strong note with a 19-8 win against Sunraysia and picked up further wins against Two Bays, Goulburn and Central Highlands as well as drawing against Latrobe Valley.
Another six of the sides games were decided by two goals or less.
Coach Tiff Heir said the came up against some quality opposition which provided the young netballers with good experience.
“So many of the other regions get more opportunities to train together so it’s always difficult for us because we are the biggest region,” she said. “The girls really did well and they had a great weekend.”
Emma Buwalda, Keiarah Brooks and Carly Isaac were the only three top-age players in the squad of nine.
“All three of those girls played brilliantly,” Heir said. “The six bottom-age girls will also be much better for the experience and hopefully they will get the chance to come back again next season with another year of experience playing 17 and under netball. There is such a big gap in the speed of the game between playing 15 and under and 17 and under netball.”
It was Heir’s fourth and final year as coach of the side. She said she had always encouraged the girls to take every opportunity available to them. “The tournaments are the best chance for the girls to put themselves in front of the scouts,” she said. “We had a really great team that worked so hard. It can be really difficult for the talent scouts to get around to all the leagues in such a big region so we often have to rely on the tournaments to identify those coming through.”
Heir said she was once again impressed by the play of Emma Buwalda.
“There was plenty of highlights across the weekend but Emma is such a beautiful player and we were lucky to have her in attack,” she said. “She is one of those players that has taken her opportunities and has made her way onto ACU sovereigns squads along with Keiarah.”
Emma (Buwalda) is such a beautiful player and we were lucky to have her in attack.Tiff Heir
Victoria Taylor’s willingness to learn was also highlighted by Heir. “She really stepped up during the tournament,” she said. “She listened to everything we you told her and really tried to implement it once she stepped onto the court.”
The format of the state titles saw teams play 17 games made up of two eight minute halves in two days.
Heir’s team was forced to play its seven Sunday games with just eight players after an injury on the first day.
“It is a big weekend of games and we really need to thank a lot of people as well as congratulating the players,” Heir said.
“I was lucky to have the wonderful Briana Farr as my team manager and Sharon Lockhart provided a lot of help with Bianca Mibus as the 15 and under team manager. Wimmera-Mallee regional liaison officer Jess Wyatt also put in a massive effort as did umpires Alex and Shavaughan Neale.”