Sport

Venom glory as Youth Men claim title

WARRANDYTE Venom ended the season with a massive weekend just passed, with both the women and men’s youth league sides competing in Big V finals for a mixed bag.

The boys team took home an inaugural championship for the Venom Youth Men, but unfortunately, though playing brilliantly, the girls just fell short but have done them- selves, the club and the community proud with great displays of talent, sportsmanship and mateship.

The huge crowd at Warrandyte Sports Complex on Saturday night witnessed not only a terrific game of high-spirited basketball, but also a historic win for the Venom. The first title for the men’s side of the program was a landmark victory for the 15 players involved in the 2015 team and also a reflection on the entire junior boys program at Warrandyte that feeds the Big V element.

Playing the talented Mornington Breakers, it was always set to be a physical affair. The young Venom team was ruthless with its attack on the basketball and hunger for the contest. In a tightly contested match with many ebbs and flows, the Venom claimed victory 79-70 after 40 gruelling minutes.

In a terrific team performance certain individuals also stamped their authority on the game: Justin Ronan-Black finished with 19 points, Nick Spicer had 15 and there were three other players registering double-digit scores.

The defensive efforts and overall court attack by Callum Langmaid landed him grand final MVP recognition, having racked up eight assists and five steals.

The club and community can look forward to seeing the first Big V Men’s championship banner unveiled at the Warrandyte Sports Complex in the coming weeks.

After limited sleep after the excitement of Saturday night’s game, the Warrandyte Venom faithful then made the journey to Broadmeadows stadium on Sunday to support the Youth League Women.

The team was out to conquer title favourites Hume City Broncos on their home floor, a tough ask given the Broncos finished the campaign with a 20-1 season record.

The Broncos came out early and notched a handy double-digit lead, but the typical Venom competitiveness kicked in to make it clear they were up to the task. The game was a physical and strategic affair and both sides were relentless with ball pressure.

The Venom players fought admirably to reduce the deficit to single figures but were unable to break the Broncos down, eventually falling 60-46.

Venom’s Simone Caruana finished the game on 14 points and eight rebounds, while Maddie Taylor added 10 points and seven boards. There were a number of other contributors in the spirited defeat and the Venom women certainly took it to their opposition to finish a terrific campaign.

Another wonderful year for Warrandyte in the Big V competition will be commemorated with two big celebratory occasions in the coming weeks.

Sunday August 23 from 3pm to 6pm the Venom Big V Awards function will be held at the Grand Hotel Warrandyte with everyone welcome.

Bloods fall in thriller

WARRANDYTE suffered an upset one-point loss to Kilsyth at Pinks Reserve on the weekend, in one of the most captivating games of the Eastern Football League Division 4 season.

Despite holding a slender lead into the final change, Kilsyth surged late in a frantic last quarter to topple the Bloods, who
were without key player Arthur Lamaris. Warrandyte was the victim of a couple of questionable umpiring decisions late in the final term, which shifted momentum and allowed Kilsyth to see the game out.

The loss means Warrandyte holds top position on the ladder over Forest Hill only by percentage, with both sides recording 10 wins and two losses so far this season.

Both sides started slowly out of the blocks in icy conditions and shots on goal were at a premium. A lack of talk in the middle between Warrandyte players was evident, as poor communication resulted in turnovers and errors as the Bloods tried to break the lines.

Poor kicking for goal cost the Bloods dearly in the opening term, registering four behinds after kicking their opener.

Warrandyte was playing the game in their half of the ground, but star Kilsyth forward Jay Sherlock kicked true after a strong constested mark to give the home team a three-point lead going into the first change.

The second term began much in the same vein as the first. Luke Dunn managed to boot an early goal to give the Bloods the lead back, but again Kilsyth respond- ed.

A lack of presence at ground level in the forward line for Warrandyte meant Kilsyth was able to mop up when the ball hit the deck and rebound effectively before the Bloods could set up.

Another classy Sherlock goal at the end of the term gave Kilsyth a nine-point lead at half-time.

Often known as the premiership quarter, Warrandyte showed
an increased level of desire at the beginning of the third term. Chad Gauci, who had the ball on a string throughout the first half, kicked a terrific goal to start the Bloods surge.

Suddenly, Warrandyte’s tall for- ward line was firing on all cylinders and three quick goals to Lee Evans had the Bloods fans in full voice approaching the final term.

The six-goal period saw Warrandyte start the fourth quarter with a 17-point lead. What followed was a terrific display in running end-to-end football, with both sides using the corridor at breakneck speed. Kilsyth kicked the opening major to cut the lead down to 10, but Luke Dunn replied just seconds later for Warrandyte.

However, Kilsyth’s big names stood up when it counted. Sherlock and Ben Mullett began to win the footy in dangerous areas and Mullett put through a big goal to give Kilsyth a seven-point lead just minutes from time.

Warrandyte scrambled one through late to bring the deficit to just one point, but the siren sounded to deny the Bloods victory. The final score: 13.5.83 to 12.10 82.

The defeat ends a run of three consecutive victories for the Bloods, including a 120-point crushing of Surrey Park and wins over Ferntree Gully and Glen Waverley. Ashley Froud was particularly dominant, booting 19 majors in the three games to cement his place on top of the goalkicking table.

With six games left of the regular season, the Bloods are in prime position to secure a top two position heading into finals and with key players Luke Dunn and Lee Evans returning to fitness and key onballer Lamaris to come back, the side will only get stronger.

The Reserves have also continued their good form, defeating Kilsyth in a scrappy affair. Dominant 100-plus point victories against Surrey Park and Glen Waverley book-ended a convincing victory over Ferntree Gully.

Gareth Hitchman’s goalkicking has been spectacular in recent weeks, backing up an 11-goal performance against Surrey Park with eight majors against Ferntree Gully.

Hitchman now has 60 goals for the year in just 11 games and a couple more large hauls could bring the century within reach.

Sitting second on the ladder with 11 wins behind the unbeaten Forest Hill, the Reserves will aim to chase down the division leaders throughout the back half of the season.

The Under 19s have moved into third place on the ladder after
a routine win against Kilsyth, restricting their opposition to just one goal. A close loss to Surrey Park and a defeat at the hands of Ferntree Gully saw the U19s slipping slightly, but a big win over Forest Hill steadied the ship ahead of the Kilsyth fixture.

The Bloods face off against Forest Hill away this week, in a big clash which could decide who tops the EFL ladder come the end of the season.

Chasing Chastity

IF anyone’s heard a cheerful “N’awlins” accent around Warrandyte recently, chances are you’ve bumped into the community’s latest sporting import.

Chastity Reed, former WNBA player and native of Louisiana, is the Warrandyte Venom’s newest star player. Having also plied her trade in Europe, Chastity joins Martino Brock as one of the two imports the club has secured for this season and she is loving the opportunity to play Australian basketball.

“Nicole Howard got in touch with my agent and we thought coming down here was a good way to keep me in shape, because right now is my off-season,” Chastity says.

The New Orleans-born basketballer was originally a footballer, until realising she would have a better chance of making an elite level in basketball. After moving to Dallas, she received a scholarship to college in Arkansas where her coach and her team’s style of offence allowed her to excel.

Now in the Australian basketball system, there are a few things Chastity has noticed.

“Over here, the players actually have better fundamentals. But overseas you probably find the more athletic players. It’s funny because I play tall in Australia, at the power forward position, but back home I was a guard.”

Adapting to Venom basketball is something Chastity has enjoyed and she hopes she can continue to make an impact for the remainder of her stay.

“I really trust my teammates already and I love the ball in their hands. I’m putting up some decent numbers and I don’t usually turn the ball over, so I think it’s going well.”

The style of basketball isn’t the only difference for Chastity, who has also made observations about the more easygoing mentality of the Australian persona.

“In Australia people are more laid back and easygoing, which is nice compared with back home. In Europe, people are really harsh and will crucify you. I like it out here because it’s a really close community.”

Having previously played at the highest level in America, after being drafted into the WNBA in 2011, Chastity is under no illusions for her future basketball goals.

“I want to be back in the WNBA because I am sure that I can play at that level. I know the girls who are playing there now and I know that I can compete,” Chastity says.

“I also feel I need to find a team that suits me as a player. One with a solid half court offence set that suits my game. I just need to get in the gym and do more so that I am at my best.”

But for now, Chastity is focusing on making the most of her time here in Warrandyte. Her status
as an import runs out at season’s end in July/August, and her time abroad is something that she believes more should have the opportunity to experience.

“I think Australia, Europe or wherever should allow more imports, as many as possible. Staying with Jenny Trewella has just been fantastic, they have been really great to me and it’s just been a great experience.”

Casey’s on the pace

CURRENTLY playing only his second season of representative basketball, Casey DeWacht’s selection in the Victorian Under 16 Men’s side may have surprised some, but not those at Warrandyte who have been fortunate enough to see him play.
Having just turned 15, Casey stands at 197cm tall and plays an up-tempo, athletic and physical style of basketball.
Playing for the Warrandyte Venom Under 16.1 Boys side under coach Nathan Marsh, Casey has become  a Warrandyte Basketball celebrity to his young team and club mates.
Already a member of coach Beau Bentley’s Venom Big V Youth League squad, the young baller has taken the next big step with state selection on his road to potential stardom.
Chosen as just one of 10 athletes to represent Victoria, Casey has begun a rigorous campaign of training and practice games in preparation for the Under 16 Australian Junior Championships, to be held from July 4-11 in Ulverstone, Tasmania.
“The training environment is great. Every single person pushes each other to get better and we go hard,” Casey says.
State straining has added an extra six hours to Casey’s already busy schedule of club basketball and schooling, including a 6.30am session designed to fast track his game in time for competition.
However, Casey is relishing the opportunity to further improve his game, ahead of the biggest basketball event of his young career in Tasmania.
“What I’m looking forward to most is putting my skills to the test against some of the best players in Australia and to really get out of the experience as much as I have been putting in,” Casey says.
In Australia’s competitive basketball environment, state selection is an extremely difficult path to navigate. Victorian clubs must first nominate their strongest players to attend tryouts in front of representatives of the state program and Basketball Victoria.
Casey immediately impressed head coach Rob Coulter at recent tryouts and is proud to declare his affiliation with the Warrandyte Venom and their role in his meteoric rise to a representative of Victorian basketball.
Level headed and humble, Casey is held in high regard by teammates and coaches alike and is already serving as a terrific role model and aspirational figure to younger basketballers in his club environment.
As athletes and their families fund their state program involvement, the Warrandyte Venom and indeed the greater community have responsibility to rally behind Casey to support this incredible opportunity.
Community members have a perfect opportunity to do this on Saturday (May 16)  at the Warrandyte Sports Complex.
The organisation plays host to a Big V double header from 6.30pm, featuring the Venom Youth League Men and Senior Men.

Bloods on the rampage

THE Warrandyte Bloods got their season off to the best possible start, crushing a hapless Glen Waverley Hawks side at Central Reserve in the season opener.

New sharp shooter Ashley Froud spearheaded the side, kicking eight majors to lead Warrandyte to a 101-point victory.

The Bloods led at every change and restricted Glen Waverley to just two goals for the match, conceding only six points through the first two quarters. After a forgettable first half, Warrandyte raced into action in the third quarter and finished strongly, booting nine goals in the last period to run away deserving winners.

On a perfect day for football both sides were rusty out of the gates and unable to move the ball efficiently to their respective forwards. It was youngster Scott Ternes who would eventually boot the Blood’s first, with a thumping kick from 50 metres out.

Another major quickly followed, this time scored by last season’s centurion goal kicker Luke Dunn. On the back of these goals, Warrandyte led by 16 points at the first change, despite distributing the ball inefficiently.

It was no easier going in the second quarter, with both sides struggling to play their best football. Warrandyte’s play broke down far too often in the middle of the park and clangers slowed any momentum. Excellent play through the centre by hard running Chris Tout and the ever-steady Tim Hookey ensured that Warrandyte led 6.2 to 0.6 at the half.

Fresh off the halftime break, Warrandyte never looked back and put the game to bed midway through the third quarter. Although Glen Waverley finally managed to hit the scoreboard, Warrandyte ran all over what looked a tired opposition and booted goals late in the term to end any chance of a revival. Young Tout continued to impress in his first seniors game and other debutant Chad Gauci began to leave his fingerprints on the result. Froud also looked strong, presenting himself as a genuine forward target.

The fourth quarter became a Froud fest, as the speedster put through major after major, ending the game with eight to his name. The Bloods moved the ball through the middle of the park with nonchalant ease and put the Hawks to the sword to win 19.8 122 to 2.9 21.

The Reserves and Under 19s ensured that Warrandyte was undefeated as a club on the day. Sean Bowers’ 12 goals for the Under 19s side was a particular highlight in a demolition 196-point win, 30.22 to 1.0.

Meanwhile, the Reserves won in an arm wrestle that only broke open in the fourth quarter. A five goal bag from Gareth Hitchman ensured a 26-point victory, 9.11 to 6.3.

The Bloods face Ferntree Gully at Warrandyte Reserve this weekend with early weather forecasts suggesting it could be a beautiful day for footy. A big crowd is tipped.