With the last of three grading weekends completed, we take a look at the stacked Under 18 Men’s competition in what promises to be a competitive 2018 WABL season. What’s more, 8 of the 10 Championship teams boast a state representative, with 3 squads also laying claim to an Australian National Team member.
Head Coach – Mark Clayden
The Cougars breezed through the Grading tournament with 3 wins in the pool games, good for automatic Championship qualification. Their toughest game came against the East Perth in a 44-31 win, but made light work of their other opponents. State team rep Derek Igbenoba wasn’t required too much over the weekend, with sound performances across the board from Joel Burton and Matt Clifford.
East Perth Eagles
Head Coach – Carl Filpo
The Eagles snuck in as the last ‘Best Second Placed’ team, with their 13-point loss to the Cougars just enough to slip into the top 8 auto-qualifiers. A couple of new additions at East Perth this year will see them competitive, at a club providing good Division 1 and SBL opportunities for budding stars.
Head Coach – Adam Gunnis
Joondalup scored 3 impressive wins against Redbacks 2, Senators 1 and Flames 2 to fast-track their way into Championship division. Kye Chamberlain had a strong tournament, benefitting from the experience as a bottom-ager in the Wolfpack’s U18-1 team in 2017. That team went as far as the semi-finals, but with the departure of top-ager Daniel Vlahov, this team is now Chamberlain’s to lead a couple steps further in 2018.
Head Coach – Steve Bezant
Lakeside went through undefeated from their Pool, closest game coming against the Mandurah Magic 40-26. WA Metro teammates Matthew Teale and Jasper Gibson (reserve) led the way for the Lightning, who were Minor Premiers and Grand Finalists in 2017 for the U18-2s. A Championship in 2018 wouldn’t be surprising for a team not new to success.
Head Coach – Jason Kyle
Mandurah went around the hard way to make Championship, but got there nonetheless. After missing auto qualifying by 1 point, they were forced to win their two crossover contests. 6’5 stud Marshall Kearing had a quiet weekend by his standards offensively, but teammate Darren Beard showed up with 22 points and 6 triples in the qualifier vs Kalamunda 1 to give the team safe passage into Championship division.
Perry Lakes Hawks
Head Coach – Damian Barr
The Hawks had things clicking on both ends over the weekend, allowing just 21ppg and scoring an average of 53ppg. While they weren’t particular tested at Grading, Daniel Rodgers, Nathan Thomas and Adrian Nobensi will prove a handful for any opponent come the regular season.
Coach Barr’s thoughts on the competition: “Most teams have at least one or two top line players, but the top three teams go a fair bit deeper. I think the top 3 will be clear standouts over the course of the season.”
Head Coach – Gavin Burnett
The Redbacks made Championship by winning 2 and drawing against the Rockingham Flames. Ex-Willetton recruit Lachlan Forrest had a stellar weekend averaging 14.3 points, with a high of 20 points coming against Tigers 2. If their result against the Flames is anything to go by, they’ll provide headaches in 2018.
Head Coach – Andrew Cooper
As above, the Flames made their way into Championship with 2 wins and a draw against Redbacks. Australian Croc Luke Travers unsurprisingly led the tournament in scoring at 15.5ppg. What’s more impressive was their 84-36 win vs Tigers 2, which was managed without Coach Andrew Cooper – also the U18 Metro Men Head – and Luke Travers, both on SBL commitments. Even more frightening is that one of their best players, 6’11 Kane Waters, is currently at the NBA Global Academy. Expect Finals from this team.
Head Coach – Dan Donaldson
Head Coach Donaldson boasts a resume of 2017 WABL Male COTY and has been appointed U18 Metro Men Head on multiple occasions. He earnt his keep as the team went the Mid 8 route to Championship, scraping by Senators 2 and Wolves 2 in the process. Should NBA Global athlete Wani Swaka return from his commitments, this team will contend with the best in the competition.
Head Coach – Roosevelt Williams Sr.
The overall second seed make quick work of their opponents, scoring 64.3ppg in a 20 minute fully timed game. Prior to the departure of Forrest this team would have had six U18 WA Metro reps, with Fee, Ibukunoluwa (reserve), Jackson, Mincherton, and Williams Jr (reserve). all sticking around. The team was without Croc Luke Jackson but by all accounts, he wasn’t needed on a roster that has seen more players in the black and gold than any other.