TAMWORTH Under 14 Boys’ Division 2 Northern Junior League champions are off to Sutherland for a State Cup basketball showdown.
The Jaydn Hinson-coached side earned a crack at the State Cup after it won its NJL Division 2 title in Grafton on Sunday with a 45-26 win over Port Macquarie Dolphin Under 14 2s.
The Port Macquarie side had inflicted the first NJL Division 2 defeat on the Thunderbolt juniors in the Saturday morning semi-final, the Tamworth Thunderbolts losing 29-28, team manager Phillip Pearce said.
“They got us by a point,” he said.
“We had to play Bellinger Valley Braves in a preliminary final on Saturday afternoon and won that 63-52 to earn a final against the Dolphins.
“We improved and played well. We couldn’t ask for a better bunch of boys.”
“It was awesome,” he said.
“It was great fun and they’re a great bunch of boys.
“Looking after them was hard – they are so energetic.
“You’ve got to be really alert with them but they have worked hard and trained hard too.
“We’ve done four hours a week with them.”
Pearce said the side now heads to Sydney to play at Sutherland on August 17-18 in the State Cup.
“They’ve done really well to get there,” he said.
“Jaydn Hinson said they will “have some good competition down there.
“That will test them but we have a couple of practice games against Quirindi and the Division 1 14s before we go.”
The Tamworth side also went into the finals without one of its talented players –Cayden Fletcher.
“He broke his arm a week before the finals,” Pearce said.
Cayden received his NJL gold medal from coach Hinson in a brief ceremony before the team gathered for a NJL winners’ shot for The Leader on Tuesday.