Coach happy with players' top attitude at U18 championship
BASKETBALL: Gladstone Port City Power under-18 coach Ray Cooper said to play against some of the best teams was an invaluable experience at the recent U18 Boys Division One State Championship.
While the team returned home from the Gold Coast with two wins, Cooper said it was the way in which his charges approached the games.
"The expectations was for us to go down and compete and I believe we did that," he said.
"We all knew the reality of it going into State Champs and with having the stronger pool and that every game was going to be physically demanding as well as mentally.
"I'm proud of how we approached the week."
Cooper said the difference between the top teams and Gladstone was ball retention at a high level throughout the games.
"When we dictated the tempo, we had pretty good outcomes either that being defensively or offensively," he said.
"We just weren't able to do that consistently for 40 minutes in some games.
"Our pace was on par with top teams in the competition when we valued the ball."
Top-age players Ben Harvey, Tibah O'Brien, Luke Knight, Ben Murdoch, Raj Mtengezanwa and Connor Lantry have completed their juniors campaign and Cooper said it's up to the next wave of talent.
"The bottom age players Thasindu Chandrasekara, Joe McEldowney, Marley Evans and Jack Small will benefit a lot as they have another season to go, but also to them being leaders next season with the next group coming through."
As coach, Cooper said he has developed another layer of understanding in that the Gladstone players are all on the same page.
"It definitely wasn't a shock going in with a record like 15-0 as I've been head coach and done seasons like that many times before and going to division one," he said.
"What I've learnt from this State Champs is that Gladstone Basketball is still heading in the right direction and I look forward to seeing and developing more kids like these U18s boys."
Meanwhile Cooper, who is also head coach of the Gladstone Port City Power Central Apartments Group Breakers women's team, said he's confident his yet-to-be-assembled side can make the play-offs.
Power have re-signed young guard Briana Bailey, Ashleigh Kelman-Poto and Milomilo Nanai, but Cooper is still looking for an import.
"It's just filling out that last import spot at the moment and filling out the bench so I'm pretty with what we have signed at the moment," he said.
"We've had a really good history with the women's program and making play-offs and winning championships so it will be nothing but to do that."