The Sandringham Sabres basketball club will celebrate its 50th anniversary during the next twelve months.
Given that, it is important to memorialize achievements, if for no other reason than a bunch of old and unathletic people could turn up at the club and say things like ‘basketball was better in my day.’
A club’s history is often written as a list of firsts- for example, the first time we had a team win a premiership was in 1975.
The Under 16 VC girls team has exceeded the achievements of any other girl’s team in the club’s history.
The Sabres have won a couple of Under 12 VC and Under 20 VC titles in girls basketball, but have never won a title in the most competitive Under 14-18 age groups. Additionally, this team also won the club’s first Eltham-Dandenong A Grade girl’s title in January. So this team created two significant ‘firsts’ in the one year.
It is not just what they did but how they did it that is impressive.
First, nine of the ten players grew up playing basketball at Sandringham and the tenth was a latecomer to Sandringham because of family relations. Look at their competitors, and players were recruited from everywhere.
Second, the team was as unselfish on offense as any I’ve seen in my 48 years at the club. All the players were capable of scoring more regularly, but they always played as a pass-first team. Additionally, coach Hamish had them so well drilled that their offenses looked like choreographed dance. The club is lucky to have a coach like Hamish who dedicated time and creativity in preparation for every game, training session, video review and scout- anyone else want to try to do the job of keeping teenagers focused and interested in video sessions.
Third, neither the coaches nor the players ever had a go at the referees or their opponents. They were one of the most well-liked and respected teams by opposition sides that any premier has ever been.
Fourth, they supported each other without question. There was a spirit between the girls that made them resilient in the face of trouble. Remember that this was the team who, in Under 14s, had both their Victorian and Australian title quests short-circuited by Covid.
And they demonstrated they could win in so many different ways.
In the Grand Final against Kilsyth, they found themselves down by eleven in the second quarter in a low scoring grind. There was no panic from the coaches or players. They shifted momentum, scoring ten in a minute, and were back in the game. Then in the middle of the last quarter, they went wooshka- breaking out a twelve point run in three minutes. The grind was over and the celebrations started.
In the Semi Final, against Nunawading, it was different. The team pushed the ball non-stop and broke Nunawading’s spirit racking up a 28 point win against a talented opponent. Anyone who wants to watch beautiful basketball being played should grab the videos of either of these games.
Now they move on to different teams. But the girls and coaches have something special- they were the first at Sandy to do this in the girl’s program.
To the members of the team, ‘be like elephants and not goldfish’ (the girls will all understand the significance), and remember how good this year was for the rest of your lives. And don’t listen to old people- their memories of their own glories are often exaggerated.