Sunbury Jets’ women’s side wrote another chapter in what has been a remarkable two years in the Big V competition, claiming the state championship title on Saturday night.
After claiming the Big V division 1 title last season in the most dominant fashion, the Jets were thrown a new challenge this year, playing in the state championship division for the first time.
The Jets started brilliantly, winning their first 11 games to take their winning streak to 35 games.
A few losses came in the second half of the season, but the Jets managed to claim the minor premiership.
The real challenge came finals time, and the Jets responded, stepping up their game after a below par start.
The Jets fought back against Knox Raiders to claim their semi-final series 2-1, after their worst game of the season in round one.
That set up a grand final match up with Bulleen Boomers. The Jets started slowly in game one and trailed by as much as 18 points in the first half but they overran the Boomers, winning 71-65.
It set up two chances to take the championship. They only needed one, winning game two 55-54.
The Jets are believed to be the first team to claim division 1 and state championship Big V titles in back-to-back seasons.
Jets’ coach Kennedy Kereama said it was an incredible result.
“It’s really just a credit to a plan this club put in place and the players who have come here to represent this club.
“It’s really a credit to them and the hard work they’ve put in. I’m really proud, it was a tough one.”
Just one word was needed to describe the Jets’ first half; defence.
As both teams struggled to hit their shots, the Jets’ defence ensured they held the Boomers to just five points in the first quarter and 11 points in the second.
Kereama said the way they defended, especially in the first half, was the difference in the game.
“I’ll credit Bulleen’s defence and persistence for our shooting struggle. We didn’t get much easy.
“It was very similar to last week, you continue to stick with the process, continue to take those shots and have confidence that the next one will drop.
“It’s the same with Bulleen, I think they were 0-11 at the start of the second half from the three-point line and as soon as they made the first one … You could see the pressure lift off and they’re a tough team to stop.
“We were lucky our defence established themselves from the start of the game and that got us the win for sure.”
The Jets held a four- to 10-point lead for most of the first two and a half quarters, before the Boomers started to close the gap. They got within two points on a couple of occasions in the third quarter. Monique Stevens hit eight points in quick succession to steady the Jets.
The margin was six points at three-quarter time.
Midway through the last quarter, scores were level. While the Boomers levelled the scores, they were never able to hit the front.
Two free throws to Courtney Duever with 9.8 seconds left gave the Jets the chance to take back the lead. Duever hit the first free throw, before the Boomers got the rebound off the missed second shot.
The Boomers had the chance to win the game through a Jess May shot in the dying seconds, but she missed and the siren sounded while both sides fought for the rebound.
Kereama said their leaders stepped up at vital times.
“Missing that second free throw that Courtney had, as much as it was a scary moment, if their coach had the chance to have the time out and set a play up I would have imagined an overtime game.”
“On defensive stops we had Chelsea and Orla [O’Reilly] and different players chip in at different times.
“That’s what you want your leaders to do, step up and make big plays when needed.”
Duever added another bit of history, claiming her second straight grand final most valuable player award. She scored 20 points and had eight rebounds to go with her 25 points and eight rebounds in game one.
“She’s a special player,” Kereama said.
“I’m very happy we found each other. The club, coach and player … There’s a good relationship between the three of us.”
Josie Stockill was the other player in double figures for the Jets, with 16 points.
Kereama and captain Chelsea Burns were full of praise for the packed house crowd which came and supported the team.
“Our players do a great job getting among our representative teams and that’s shown by their passion for our team,” Kereama said.
“It’s great that we can share it with our community too.”
For more photos of the Jets’ win, CLICK HERE