The NSW Country side features a mix of players with varying levels of experience, from tournament rookies through to members of last season’s Under 18 team. Paris Forcadilla, Bianca Green, Melanie Kirby, and Kayla McSpadden return from last season’s team, but gone are the Under 17 World Champion trio of Lara McSpadden, Jasmine Simmons, and Cassidy McLean. Stepping up will be three rookies: Lucy Chapman, Ashleigh Fasala, and Abbey Morton, as well as three players from last season’s Under 16 team. Among these are Newcastle’s Isabel Palmer, who averaged 21.56 points in last season’s Under 16 national championships to lead the NSW Country side to 5th place. Serena Waters and Matilda Flood will also make the step up to the Under 18 level having shone at the Under 16 level.
A highly talented 2016 NSW Metro side was struck down by illness, which forced the team to forfeit one of their pool games before eventually finishing the tournament in 11th place. Not one player on the 2017 NSW Metro team has experience at the Under 18 tournament level, but every member of the team has played at the Under 16 level. Interestingly, the team features one player with WNBL experience: Shyla Heal, who played 14 games for the now defunct SEQ Stars in 2015/16. Heal, daughter of Boomers legend Shane, played for Queensland South in the 2015 Under 16 championships, but has since made the move to Sydney and will don the sky blue this year.
Five members of the team are stepping up from last season’s NSW Metro Under 16 side, which reached the championship game before going down to Victoria Metro in the decider. Tatiana Beaumont, Rebekah Dallinger, Meg Jefferson, Gracie Lee, and Sadie Walsh-Gay were all members of that team, with Jefferson averaging 13.44 points per game throughout the tournament.
The side also incorporates four players who last featured at a national championships in 2015. Chloe Bloom, Deanna Kalivitis, Binta Salawu, and Lauryn Walker return to the representative fold as a young team attempts to atone for last year’s disappointment which was admittedly under difficult circumstances.
Both teams, and all others in the tournament, will be out to stop Victoria Metro from winning their fourth consecutive title. The team in navy has won 12 of the last 16 titles, with only NSW Country’s back to back titles in 2005 and 2006 and titles to NSW Metro and Queensland South in 2013 interrupting Victoria Metro’s dominance at this level.
The tournament begins on Saturday, April 8. The full fixture can be found here, with live stats available throughout the tournament.
Listed below are the rosters for each team and their statistics from their last national championship.
NSW Country Under 18 Squad
|Fasala, Ashleigh||Coffs Harbour||None||–||–||–|
|Flood, Matilda||Bathurst||2016 U16||6.78||7.56||2.11|
|Forcadilla, Paris||Gosford||2016 U18||1.62||3.00||0.88|
|Green, Bianca||Newcastle||2016 U18||6.62||6.50||1.38|
|Kirby, Melanie||Albury||2016 U18||3.00||4.12||0.12|
|McSpadden, Kayla||Newcastle||2016 U18||0.88||2.88||0.25|
|Morton, Abbey||Wagga Wagga||None||–||–||–|
|Palmer, Isabel||Newcastle||2016 U16||21.56||5.44||1.11|
|Waters, Serena||Newcastle||2016 U16||6.89||2.11||0.56|
NSW Metro Under 18 Squad
|Beaumont, Tatiana||Penrith||2016 U16||3.89||5.22||1.11|
|Bloom, Chloe||Penrith||2015 U16||10.44||8.00||0.78|
|Dallinger, Rebekah||Norths||2016 U16||3.67||7.67||2.33|
|Heal, Shyla||Sutherland||2015 U16||10.44||6.00||2.00|
|Jefferson, Meg||Penrith||2016 U16||13.44||9.67||0.44|
|Kalivitis, Deanna||Sutherland||2015 U16||3.22||6.44||0.56|
|Lee, Gracie||Manly||2016 U16||4.56||3.56||2.11|
|Salawu, Binta||Penrith||2015 U16||8.33||4.56||1.78|
|Walker, Lauryn||Manly||2015 U16||3.22||2.56||0.67|
|Walsh-Gay, Sadie||City of Sydney||2016 U16||7.44||4.00||2.44|