Horsham basketballers to defend state championships title in Shepparton

SQUAD: Horsham's under-16 boys side get ready to travel to the state championships in Shepparton at the weekend. Back: Hugh Taylor, Harley Pope, Brodie Pope. Front: Max Bryan, Jude Kilpatrick, Ryan Pfitzner, Cody Bryan. Picture: SAMANTHA CAMARRI
SQUAD: Horsham's under-16 boys side get ready to travel to the state championships in Shepparton at the weekend. Back: Hugh Taylor, Harley Pope, Brodie Pope. Front: Max Bryan, Jude Kilpatrick, Ryan Pfitzner, Cody Bryan. Picture: SAMANTHA CAMARRI

HORSHAM’S under-16 boys basketball side will travel to Shepparton at the weekend to defend their title at the state basketball championships. 

The side won the state championships two years ago as under-14s and will therefore head into this tournament as the top-ranked side. 

Coach Damien Kilpatrick said his side were in good form leading up to the tournament. 

“The team is looking good, they’ve come along pretty well since the Bendigo tournament,” he said.

Kilpatrick said the state championships provided a new set of challenges for the side. 

“It’s the best of the best in the state trying to finish as high as you can – there are no easy games,” he said. 

16 teams will compete in the tournament, with teams battling it out on Saturday to earn a place in division one for the Sunday games. 

“We are the number one ranked team going in and this year was always going to be our title defence year,” Kilpatrick said.

“We need to tick the boxes now and make sure we get into division one at the tournament.”

The team has been in great form this year, and won their most recent tournament at the Bendigo Junior Classic.

Kilpatrick has enforced a strong defensive mentality in the team, which he said must continue at the weekend.

“Scoring isn’t a problem for us and we have a good spread of scorers. Our defence pressure is either going to win it or lose it for us,” he said. 

The likes of Ben Hobbs, Austin McKenzie and Brody Pope have played plenty of high quality basketball this summer, and have all been invited to the under-16 state combine in March.

Although they form the core of the side, Kilpatrick said the key to his squad’s success was to play as a team.

“It’s a team game and if we keep playing like a team good things will happen,” he said.

“If we start relying on one or two players, we won’t go very far against some of the teams we are about to come up against. It has to be an even spread.

“The minute we stop playing as a team we will struggle.”

Horsham Amateur Basketball Association junior co-ordinator Tony Sleep was excited by the prospects of the young side.

“We are really excited for what could be in store for these guys this weekend,” he said.

“The side has been undefeated all season playing a strong brand of basketball.

“This would be one of the stronger sides the association has fielded in a long time, which given the strength of the success our association has had over the years, is saying something.”

Squad: Hugh Taylor, Harley Pope, Brodie Pope, Max Bryan, Jude Kilpatrick, Ryan Pfitzner, Cody Bryan, Sam Breuer, Ben Hobbs, Austin McKenzie.