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Well its been another successful season. The girls program has again dominated in both the Mill Park Basketball Stadium Domestic Competition and Diamond Valley Domestic Competition.  During the finals the club was represented in all age groups that teams were entered in. Un 8 Mixed. Unlike some clubs where winning at Un 8 is everything, and teams are built around one or two players in the team, Cougars sole intention with this age group is to teach and develop our youngsters in the fundamentals and skill of the game, coupled with sportsmanship. The winning comes after the kids have learn’t how to play.  Both coaches Tracey Way & Kellie Burns have done a tremendous job in developing their teams. Un 8 Mixed (1) Tracey who took over from Melanie Holland, last season’s coach, has further advanced the development of her players with a couple playing a second game in the Un 10 competition, such is their advancement.  All players in the first team have displayed good skills on both sides of their body and this will hold in good stead in the future. Un 8 Mixed (2) Kellie had the more difficult job in starting raw beginners in the sport. With assistance from CEO Rachael McBrien, the team has progressed well beyond the club’s expectations.  All players now have knowledge of the game and what they should be required to do.  When you consider there are a lot of 5 & 6 year olds in this team, time for their continual development is certainly with them.  Both coaches are to be commended for their excellent efforts this season. A special mention to Anne Maree Angwin the Un 8 Mixed (2) assistant coach.  Her efforts with the team is appreciated by all at Cougars. Un 12 Girls Cougars completely dominated the Un 12 competition with premierships in both Un 12 “A” grade & Un 12 “B” grade. Un 12 “A’ Grade Debbie Coulson who is also the Girl’s Coordinator at Cougars passed on her coaching of this team to Vanessa Farruggia half way through the season.  Vanessa had coached the Un 10 girls to a premiership last season and assisted with the Un 12 this season. Debbie’s guidance and direction has enabled Vanessa to further develop as a coach.  The team who only lost one game during the season had a tough tussle with Epping Storm in their grand final but again the Cougars team work overcame a poor start and they registered their third premiership in the three seasons they have been together. Un 12 “B” Grade Made up of most of last season’s Un 10 girls, this team coached by Stephanie Kyraciou defeated the previously unbeaten top team Rebels. Three weeks ago our team lost to Rebels by 25 points.  With the extra work that both Stephanie & Michael Ryan put into the girls over the last 3 weeks, the team reversed their earlier loss to win by 20 points.  That is a 45 point turnaround in the space of 3 weeks. Well done girls and coaches.  These girls still have at least 4 more seasons in Un 12. Un 14 A Grade Cougars made a clean sweep of this competition with Rino Zancan’s team finishing on top and Debbie Coulson’s team finishing second. After the semi and preliminary finals both teams faced off in yesterday’s grand final.  Rino’s team had a 26 point victory, giving this team their third consecutive premiership.  Debbie’s team that are much younger gave a very good account of themselves and lost no friends with their gutsy effort.  Again a lot these players started in our Un 8 mixed teams and the grounding they received have seen Cougars dominate this age group. Un 16A Girls Again this was an all Cougars affairs.  Both teams during the season were coached by Rino Zancan but whenever there was a game clash both Debbie Coulson & Bec Valenti filled in coaching the first team.  After clinically disposing of Epping Storm in last week’s preliminary finals, Cougars (2) were in with a good chance in beating our first team who were unbeaten this season. The first team coached by Bec Valenti showed why they were unbeaten all season with a 25 point win over the second team. They needed to step up from past weeks games and they did.  Far from disgraced, the second team put on an excellent effort but the lack of experience compared to the first team showed in the end.  The good point is that both teams are still eligible for Un 16 next season but the first team have decided to accept the challenge and play Un 19 instead.  The club believes that if you have the ability- you seek the challenge. This is why the first team won’t play in an age group where they completely dominate which they have done this season.  The challenge now is to play Un 19 instead.  Congratulations on the decision girls. Un 16 “B” Grade. In a tight tussle Jeff Dunn’s Un 16 girls could not get into their game and lost the grand final by 6 points. The girls again had a good season and we believe that their continual improvement will see them get over the line shortly. Diamond Valley Competition The Un 12 -”B” Grade Coached by Michael Ryan they had an excellent win in their grand final to continue the tradition that our past Un 12 girl’s teams have had at Diamond Valley.  Made up of a mixture of our Un 12 (1) & (2) teams at Mill Park, the girls accounted for Eltham North (2) who finished on top of the ladder for the season by 7 points.  The girls accounted for Hurstbridge in their preliminary final and again the training cooperation between Michael, Debbie & Stephanie got these girls over the line.  Jenna Ryan was MVP. Coach Michael Ryan gives a special mention to Claudia Kyraciou for her effort in shutting down Eltham North’s bigs. Un14 – “A & AR” The First team coached by Debbie Coulson lost their preliminary final by 2 points in “A’ grade. Considering most of the girls were still eligible for Un 12 competition the team decided they wanted to accept the challenge and played in a higher age group.  They had been unbeaten in Un 12 “A” grade for the last two seasons where they were premiers. The second team coached by Jeff Dunn finished bottom of “A” grade but played off for the “AR” final.  Coming from fourth spot the girls worked their way through with wins in the semi and preliminary finals.  Unfortunately they fell short by two points in their grand final. Again it was a superb effort by a team that had been poorly graded but stuck it out after heavy defeats by some of the true “A” grade teams. MVP was Georgia Fell. Un 16-AR Grade. Coached by John Fell the girls lost their semi- final when they could not field their team because of school camp commitments. Summary. Again Cougars Junior Girls program has continued to develop with many of our players being snapped up by representative clubs. 6 of the Un 14 A girls are currently playing VC for their representative club and 9 girls from our Un 16 “A” grade teams are playing VC for their representative team.  The majority of our Un 12 girls are either playing or have been requested to try out at various representative clubs for next season.  The club has more than fulfilled its Mission Statement this season. Remember we are always looking for beginners & players to join us. See our web site for details. Congratulations to all that competed during finals and a special well done to Mick Ryan's U18-1 team that took out the 18-B grade final. The boys teams that competed in finals at Diamond Valley were Diyana's U12-1 Cooper's U14-2 Jack's U16-1 Mick's U16-3 and U18-1 teams Scott's U18-2 boys We had Theo's U14 team play in the finals at Mill Park. This season has been a very successful one for the boys. A big decision for the club was to move the majority of teams to Diamond Valley, and the decision was worth it. The boys found themselves in competitions where they were more competitive, which meant more confidence and more development. Under 10's - started in D grade, ended up in C grade and were more than competitive Under 12-1 - played off in the grand final, but unfortunately fell short by 3 points. Fantastic effort by Diyana and the boys Under 12-2 - most of these boys were playing their first season and their progression as the season went on was fantastic to watch, credit to Chris as he had 10 players to train and manage. Under 14-1 - these boys showed a great amount of guts and determination. Let down by a couple of players / parents in the team, they played with 4 players on several occasions but they gave their all in trying circumstances Under 14-2 - a couple of these players had not won more than 3 games in the past 2 seasons while playing at Mill Park, they ended up in the preliminary final, well done to Cooper and the boys. Under 14-3 - Theo's boys started in C grade, got promoted to B Grade and played off in a final series, well done to all. Under 16-1 - These boys played off in the finals and were just beaten by the smallest of margins, use that to spur you on to greater heights next season guys. Under 16-2 - Dave's guys came together and played some great basketball. Each week they were smaller than their opponents but they took it to them every game Under 16-3 - Mick's boys played off in the grand final missing their tallest player as he travels overseas. Lack of numbers and a little more discipline and the result may have been different. Still a fantastic effort. Under 18-1 - A lot of hard work went into this grand final victory. Well deserved to all involved. Under 18-2 - Scott's boys once again played in another final series, with a bit more dedication by a couple the results may have been different. Still a great result. Under 18-3 - With a mix of U16 boys filling in, this team gives all they have each week and represent the club well. A big thank you to Kerry Saccuzzo as the Team Managers manager, she is a huge help in communicating to all of the parents on what is going on around the club. Thanks to all of the team managers. To all of the coaches and assistant coaches. I speak on behalf of the parents and the committee, your commitment to the kids of this club cannot be appreciated enough, you do the job for free, donate your time and effort and guide these boys with your knowledge of the game of basketball as well as life; thank you.Looking over the season gone, I have seen a lot of development by the boys and a lot of happy players and parents. Premierships and finals are a sign of success, but watching the development of the kids, getting families involved in sport and club activities is just as important and because Cougars value these principles, I believe it sets us apart from other clubs. Have a great break and I look forward to seeing you all for the start of the summer season.
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