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14 May, 2022

Win six years in the making

In 2016, Gilgandra Basketball Association entered a team of under 12s, with boys ranging from the ages of eight and 11, into the Western Junior League (WJL) competition.

By Supplied

Coached by Kimm Naden and managed by Julie Nolan, those boys won division two finals years ago.

In the competitions since then Gilgandra Windmills have made the WJL final rounds every year, losing to Leeton in the John Martin Country Championships (JMCC) grand finals in under 12 division two in 2018, winning the under 12s WJL division two grand final and JMCC under 12 divi- sion three grand final in 2019, and, in 2021, win- ning the JMCC under 16 division three grand final.

This weekend, five boys from the original nine went on the court, joined by another four boys who joined the basketball family. They played like broth- ers, trusting they had each other’s backs. Despite an early lead by Leeton Basketball Association, the mood on the bench was calm and positive and by the end of the quarter Gilgandra was ahead. Coached by Mick O'Neill and managed by Kristina Wendt, the boys were able to maintain their lead throughout the rest of the game, though many times Leeton reeled them back in.

Gilgandra's Luke O'Neill was top scorer of the match with 29 points, with Jace Baker on 17. Lochy Nolan scored 14 points, four of them being three- pointers and was awarded player of the match. Twins, Dominic and Sebastian Manusu were strong in their defence, keeping Leeton from scor- ing, while Azariah Ah-See, Izak Bennett, and Toby Smith gave amazing all round support. Ethan Morris helped finish the game on a high note, scor- ing a three pointer in the final seconds that had the entire crowd cheering. When 40 minutes of game time was over Gilgandra had won 80-55.

Leeton provided a huge challenge to the team all season and it was an honour for Gilgandra to have faced them in the final. The team showed tremendous strength and sportsmanship.

Though the game was played all the way in Bathurst, the team was lucky to have parents, friends, and family travel to watch them in person. Many who were not able to attend were able to watch the game via live stream.

The boys made their families and town proud a thousand times over.

The team was well liked within the competition and are a credit to themselves. 

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