From Luca Zanarini & James Foster, Co-Captains of Basketball
Captains of Basketball Report
Preparing for the 2017/2018 CAS basketball season was a long and physical process. This year, off-season and pre-season basketball was introduced early for players to train and improve their skills. More than 20 players each week woke up early for three training sessions at 6:30am run by coaches Mr Johnny Jovine, Mr Phil Noreika and new recruit, Mr Joan Creus Custodio. As pre-season began, players would start to showcase their refined skills in training and games.
In preparation for the upcoming CAS season, a holiday training camp was organised and up to 30 players battled it out for the remaining spots to play in the pre-season tournament and CAS season. The camp was run under the direction of Mr Gibbs and the three 1st V and 2nd V coaches. The camp allowed the boys to bond with each other both on and off the court. The first day of the camp involved several physical challenges and a large fitness component. The second day focused on key areas of improvement for each individual, as well as team selections so that the players could gel together and move forward, not just as 1st’s and 2nd’s, but as a whole unit. Day three involved the integration of new plays as well as a well-earned (less gruelling) itinerary for the day so that the boys could recover and rest before the tournament the next day. The camp contributed to showcasing the immense growth and depth of talent in Waverley Basketball.
For the 1st V and 2nd V teams, along with camp and training sessions, friendly games against local schools would help prepare them for the upcoming season. Playing against schools such as Marcellin, Shore, St Patrick’s, Grammar and more, the boys were off to a steady start.
With the annual tournament coming up as part of pre-season as well, this allowed the boys to experience different levels of basketball, playing against championship teams such as Newington. The 2nds players put together a massive effort in the tournament with a hard draw beating high level teams such as Sydney Grammar and GPS contenders Newington. However due the nature of the pools and divisions, Waverley were to lose to a very strong Shore side who had significant depth off the bench. The game was closely contested by Waverley, although due to a few errors, Shore came out on top, leaving Waverley with a must win game against the Charity Bounce team in order to qualify for the next round. As the game began, Waverley started off strong with the help of Ash Backlund, Daniel Marando and Tom Deakin-Bell, who held the opposition off with stellar defensive plays accompanied by the offensive presence of Samuel Frazer, Mark Goncalves and Justin Capra. Unfortunately, due to some big shots from the opposition in crucial moments of the game, it resulted in an unlucky defeat with the end result being a whisker of margins, 33-35. The boys of the 2nd V were disappointed with the result, however they should be proud of their achievement and the way they conducted themselves throughout the tournament.
Playing Newington in their first round, the 1st V had been dealt a difficult first hand in the competition. From the start of the game, Newington showed dominance in both defensive and offensive plays on the court as they grew a lead from early on. Waverley fought every minute but we were no match for the 12 time GPS champions. Reflecting on the game and assessing areas for improvement, Waverley would go on to play Grammar, who had defeated Waverley in the pre-season. As we knew this would be a tough game, we gave it our all and led the game at half time. With baskets being scored on each end, Waverley got some key stops to ultimately put them on top at the final buzzer, winning the game. From here we picked up momentum and this helped in beating our next opponent, Shore.
Due to this success, the 1st V team advanced to the second stage of the tournament where we faced Sydney Boys High. This was a team full of skillful athletic guards who have been very successful in pre-season and regular season games. However, Sydney Boys were no match for Waverley’s bigger size as once again Waverley came out with the victory.
Next in line was Kings, this time a much larger team. Going into the game, Waverley were struggling early on as Kings grew a lead of 20 points. After halftime, our determination to win narrowed the scoreline to just 2 points within the last minutes of the game. Unfortunately key player, Alex Higgins-Titsha suffered a major injury and broke his wrist and the team registered a loss. Despite being eliminated at this point, there was satisfaction with our performance because Waverley had not made it this far in the tournament for many years.
Getting into the first game against Knox in CAS season, the junior teams recorded some standout games, with the 8A team securing a comfortable 15-point win, with great performances by some of the development players like Jake Weinstein with 10 points and Jack Ringrose with 24 points.
The 9A team had a tough start with a 17-point defeat. The game was well contested throughout but some errors and turnovers lead to a shift in the game and ultimately their loss.
The 10A team line-up also featured development players Ben Walton and Christian Diaz, along with a new look team and whilst the 10A lost 50-41, the performance by the team showed flashes of things to come for their basketball this season.
As training continued, teams worked hard on all areas that needed improvement, so that Waverley would be ready for the first CAS game against Knox at home.
The 2nd V squad were out to a rough start against a highly competitive Knox team with each side finding it extremely hard to capitalise on scoring opportunities due to strong defensive plays by both teams. Waverley began to attack the rim and find easy jump shots and began to settle in their offence. As halftime approached the two teams headed to the bench. With the scores tied it was looking like a game that would be decided in the final minutes. Due to a scoring outbreak from Tom Deakin-Bell with 10 points and Mark Goncalves, 9 points, Waverley began to exploit holes in the well drilled Knox defense. Coming into the fourth quarter a close game was on show as every shot counted and could decide the victors. Time ticking away, some crucial last-minute points put the Waverley side ahead in the final seconds which resulted in a win 41-38.
Following the successful conclusion of the 2nd’s game, the 1st V squad immediately started their warm up in preparation for the big game. Knox, being a championship contender, was going to be a big challenge, especially since Waverley were still missing injured players Alex Higgins-Titsha and Luca Zanarini. As the ball was tipped, Waverley were already off to a slow start as Knox grew to a lead of 6-10 points. Thanks to some skillful plays, Waverley narrowed the margin and were trailing by 2 points by the end of the first quarter. Into the second quarter, the game continued to go back and forth but Waverley’s turnovers allowed Knox to continue to keep their lead. As half-time approached, Waverley had to make some adjustments both offensively and defensively to give them the edge. As the second half began, Waverley made some progress in their defensive side, however some controversial calls made by the officials, left some players frustrated, earning ourselves fouls which gave away easy points and possession for Knox. As time ticked away, some good shots by Kyle Goulding narrowed the gap to one point. Going into the fourth quarter, it was the last hope for Waverley to take the lead. Within the last four minutes, Waverley got some crucial stops as Ryan Abbott had two blocks and two 3 pointers that gave Waverley a 3-point lead with 2 minutes left in the game. Waverley finished strong to secure the victory against Knox winning 66-62 in their first game back from pre-season. A shout-out to Kyle Goulding for scoring 16 points and Ryan Abbott with a double, grabbing 13 rebounds along with 15 points. Despite this success, we still have areas that need improvement, particularly in turnovers and fouls. Overall, Waverley’s positive start to the CAS season was well deserved and showcased talents across all years. We will need to focus on several areas of improvement for next week’s opponent, St Aloysius’.
From Convenor of Basketball, Anthony Gibbs
Last weekend saw Waverley take on Knox for the first round of the 2018 CAS basketball season. For the 1st and 2nd squads basketball did not stop following the end of the 2017 season, as many players continued training in the off-season program offered during Terms 2 and 3, which included strength and conditioning and a basketball skills sessions each week.
During the last month of Term 3 the pre-season program for the 1st, 2nd and all A/B teams commenced. The 1st and 2nd squads played a series of trial games against regular pre-season opponents Shore, St Patrick’s and Sydney Grammar, however the first trial game was against Marcellin and despite losing 64-55, it was a solid first up effort for the 1st V.
The following weekend the 1st V and 2nd V travelled to North Sydney to take on Shore with the 1st team posting a strong 88-74 win and the 2nd team losing 72-59 in a well-fought tussle. A trip out to Strathfield to play St Patrick’s the following week saw the 1st V (69-46) and 2nd V (51-35) post big wins. The final trial games of the pre-season were away to Sydney Grammar where both 1st and 2nd lost 78-62 and 49-32 respectively.
Junior development and a new coach
During the Term 3 holiday break, Waverley Basketball ran another Junior Development Camp with approximately 15 eager players participating in a range of individual skills sessions over 3 days under the supervision of 1st V coach, Mr Johnny Jovine and Assistant 1st V coach, Mr Joan Creus Custodio. Mr Creus Custodio, is from Spain and is currently studying in Australia whilst working as a coach for Waverley and a number of other local basketball associations. Mr Creus Custodio has played in the top division of Spanish basketball, the Liga ACB, for 3 years representing Manresa and Estudiantes. After the departure of Mr Tom Chamberlain last season, the 2nd V are now under the tutelage of new coach, Waverley Old Boy Mr Phil Noreika. Mr Noreika represented the College in the 1st V from 2001-2004 and CAS 1st V in 2004 and has been playing for the Sydney Comets in the ABA for the past two seasons. Along with 1st V coach, Mr Jovine, Waverley has a very experienced and highly qualified coaching team leading them this season.
Training camp and Shootout tournament
During the October break, the 1st V and 2nd V participated in a 3-day training camp in preparation for the annual Sydney School Shootout Tournament that was held at Newington College. Both teams played extremely well throughout the tournament, with the results showing it was Waverley’s best tournament performance for many seasons. The 2nd squad defeated Newington and Sydney Grammar in their pool games and narrowly lost to Charity Bounce by 2 points and Shore (39-29). Had the 2nd squad won 3 of their 4 pool games, they would have advanced to the semi-finals. While the 1st squad lost their first pool game to Newington (45-26), they were able to bounce back to defeat Sydney Grammar (52-39) and Shore (41-30) to advance to the quarter finals where they faced Sydney Boys’ High. In a high quality game, Waverley was able to edge out Sydney Boys’ to set up a semi-final showdown with Kings. In the semi-final, Kings were able to establish a sizeable lead in the first half, however in the second half, the 1st V played outstanding basketball to claw their way to within one point of Kings with 90 seconds left on the clock and all the momentum. Unfortunately, a serious injury to Alex Higgins-Titsha halted Waverley’s momentum and Kings were able to close out the game 51-46. Regardless of the score, it was a valiant effort from the 1st V and a fantastic achievement by both 1st and 2nd teams, who showed they will be highly competitive this season.
Old boys’ playoff
Seventeen Old Boys returned to the College to play in the highly popular Old Boys vs 1st V and Old Boys vs 2nd V games in the weekend before the start of the CAS competition. In the 2nd V game, the Old Boys proved too big and too strong, however the 1st V game was a much closer affair. The 1st V were in front for much of the game, only to end up in a draw after regulation time. One minute of extra time was played and it was frenetic as each team tried to make an elusive basket, however nothing was sticking. It was not until the final seconds of the game that the Old Boys were able to make a free throw that sealed the result in their favour. Special thanks to the following Old Boys for taking the time to come back to Waverley: Ryan Azzopardi (2011), Tom Chamberlain (2012), Ned Crerar (2015), Patrick Duffy (2012), Lachlan Ho (2014), Jasper Howell (2015), Haydn Johansson (2013), Patrick Kava (2013), Dean Kormanyos (2015), Jamie Mattick (2014), Harrison Petritsis (2015), James Sekhas (2011), Linden Smith-Hyde (2007), John Sommerville (2011), Dean Stojanovski (2017), Sammy Tam (2013) and Jackson Tate (2012).
CAS season begins
The 2nd V played through early jitters to perform extremely well and defeat Knox 41-38 in their first CAS game of the season. The game was neck and neck the whole way with neither team being able to break away. Coach Mr Phil Noreika was extremely pleased with his players saying, “every team member contributed when needed, especially on defensive transitions and the offensive end of the floor.” He was also happy that Waverley were able to show grit to grind out a win against a highly spirited Knox outfit. While the whole team played well, captain, Mark Goncalves had an outstanding game, as did Ash Backlund, Justin Capra and Tom Deakin-Bell.
Buoyed by the 2nd V’s win, the 1st V took the court. The last two outings against Knox had been close games that were decided by 3 and 4 points in Knox’s favour and this game turned out to be no different. The score at the end of the first quarter was 15-13 to Knox. By the end of the first half it was 32-30 to Waverley and going into the last period, the score was 45-44 to Knox. The game ultimately finished 66-62 with Waverley – not having beaten Knox since 2012 – recording a notable victory. It was the first time in my tenure as Convenor that both the 1st’s and 2nd’s had defeated Knox. Ryan Abbott, Kyle Goulding, Hayden Walton and Captain, Jeremy Petritsis had great games. Coach Johnny Jovine thought the players, “matched the intensity and then some against Knox, showing why Waverley has become one of the top contenders in the CAS.” He was not happy with the team’s 33 turnovers to 10 assists, however he was pleased with the way the players, “stuck together in time of need and their ability to pull off clutch shots,” towards the end of the game. He believes that the 1st V’s free throws still need work, however their shooting from the field has improved vastly since last year.
In other games, Waverley enjoyed limited success against Knox. The following teams won their games: 9E (27-23), 8A (52-37) and 8B (35-25). The 10B drew 32-32. The 8A and 8B teams are looking very strong this season, possessing a number of talented players in their ranks. The 9A squad played a mid-week trial game against Moriah College this week and despite playing very well, lost by 2 points. Coach Mr James Spargo was very satisfied with the manner in which his players conducted themselves, playing hard to the end.
In December 2017, 32 Waverley students and 6 staff members will be participating in a Basketball Development Tour to the USA and Canada. Coaching staff and players have undertaken training sessions since the beginning of Term 2 and all are eagerly awaiting their departure in just over 40 days. The tour will visit Portland, Seattle and Vancouver and three Waverley teams (Varsity, Junior Varsity and Freshman) will play against a variety of North American high schools while also participating in homestays with local families. The tourists will also be attending NBA and NCAA games in Portland and Seattle respectively.
Long sleeve ‘Waverley Basketball’ shirts are being sold to help raise money for the tour. The shirts are made from 50% cotton and 50% polyester and are smart, comfortable and perfect for wearing to basketball training, games or casually. The cost of the shirts is $50 each with some of the proceeds from the sale of the shirts going towards the Social Justice component of the Tour. Many families have already purchased the shirts and you will have no doubt seen them being worn. Show your support for the players on tour by purchasing a shirt before they are all sold out! You can purchase shirts at the Saturday Basketball BBQ or at school on the ground floor of the TAS Building on Wednesday’s at Lunchtime.
Best of luck to all teams this weekend against St Aloysius’ this week.