Round 1 – Canberra Gunners Academy 92 def. Bathurst Goldminers 73

Written by Anthony Plunkett

The 2016 version of the Canberra Gunners Academy has begun its Waratah Division 1 Men season with a road victory over the Bathurst Goldminers on the evening of Saturday, 4 March. Just like most Academy road trips, this involved a tough game of basketball sandwiched between two lengthy bus trips, various food outlets and any number of dubious musical listening choices.

This year’s team has changed significantly from previous versions, with only Isaac Plunkett and Shaun Mills the only returning players that played significant roles in 2015. This year’s group is made up of almost the complete training squad for the ACT Under 20 Men’s team that performed strongly in the recent Australian Championships in Ipswich (click here for a tournament recap).

This proved to be a real benefit in this contest since despite only having two training’s together the group showed considerable teamwork and cohesion. The team also includes Tom Commins, who has moved from the rival Wagga Heat, and ex-Gunner and local competition stalwart Aaron Coddington.

The game against Bathurst quickly demonstrated both the strengths and weaknesses of this year’s group. As in past years, the team showed its real depth with all ten athletes playing quality minutes in the fast-paced full court game that distinguishes it from most teams in this competition. Also evident was the real lack of strong, aggressive and physical players within the group. This, however, is something that is to be expected with the majority of the team only 17 or 18 years old. The exposure the young Gunners Academy group will have in the Waratah competition to older, more physical players should be a valuable part of their further development.

In sweltering conditions, the Academy jumped to a ten point first quarter lead, behind a strong half-court offence lead by the Marist duo of James Toohey (15 points) and Jack Bartholomeusz (15 points). While the Academy won all four quarters, the remainder of the game was considerably closer, with Bathurst showing a deal of improvement from previous years.

Scoring for the Gunners Academy was evenly spread, with Tom Cummins (17 points), Jarrod Hampton (13 points) and Max Wallner (14 points) also in double figures. Bathurst were well led by their captain Kieran Osburn, who top scored for the game with 19 points.

A scoring summary is available by clicking here.

The Gunners Academy play at Belconnen at 7:00pm this Saturday, 12 March 2016 against the Illawarra Hawks. This should be another tough interesting battle against an always strong Hawks team.

Make sure you come along and support the young Gunners Academy! Entry is via a gold coin ticket at the door.

You can view the complete fixture for the Gunners Academy by clicking here.