We always talk about Div 1 and 2, but the DBA juniors have been representing their clubs since October as well. And the future of basketball in Dorset is bright!
5 clubs have lower age brackets, supporting the youth in their area. The longest standing being Dorset Storm, run by Jill and Luke Kemish who have dedicated years to the young players in the region. But the other clubs are now growing with Weymouth Bandits and Bridport Evolution out to the West, Poole Piranhas in the centre and BCS Seahawks, now in its 10th year, in the East of the region.
Each club has at least 3 age groups, U12, U14 and U16, with 3 clubs playing U18 too. Some are even starting as young as U10 with some fun games through the season.
Each club plays each other twice, home and away, to decide the final standings in the league... with Playoffs being decided on those standings to play after Easter.
The U12's have been dominated by the Bandits as they have gone unbeaten in their 7 games so far, although were pushed to the last seconds by the Seahawks, with the Bandits stealing the win 37-36. With only one game to go they have secured 1st spot. Evolution sit 2nd, but Piranhas in 3rd have a game in hand and could steal the runners-up spot. In their head-to-head, if it comes to that, the Poole based team won the first encounter 30-28, but the Bridport guys came back and won the return leg by 20pts, meaning they have the head-to-head advantage.
Coach John Le Page of the Piranhas praised his whole team for the development made over the season, but shout out to Shayne, who dropped 36pts in the game vs. Storm. A club record for any age!!
In a complete flip of the U12 league, Storm lead the way, alongside Seahawks, whilst Bandits struggle without a win, at the bottom. This shows how close all the age brackets are, and how it will change over the coming years, as players grow and move up!
Storm have only lost one, to Seahawks... and vice versa! The Head-to-head goes to the Storm by a mere 7pts (-9 / +16). With one game to go each, either team could still win it. Seahawks face Evolution who sit 4th, in their last fixture; whilst Storm host Piranhas.
Coach Olly Wood of the Seahawks, added, "The quality of matches is amazing. These young players surprise me every week with what they are achieving and their maturity in their approach to the games". Also to note, 2 local players Jack Baccus (Seahawks) and Lucas Lane (Storm) have progressed in the BE Aspire Program, heading to Birmingham to represent the region. Congrats to them both!
As the players hit this age group the physicality of the matches change. These players are now approaching adulthood and it shows in great close games across the board.
Weymouth Bandits sealed the league this past weekend with a close win over a battered and bruised Seahawks, taking the win 52-50... however the Seahawks were milliseconds from taking the win as Mattia actually hit a half court shot which would have won the game (and kept the league alive) ... but after a few minutes discussion it was ruled out.
Coach Che Osbourne of the Bandits was proud of his players, from finishing bottom last year to the title this year; although he added he wasn't even aware of the standings and implications before the game!
Storm, Seahawks or Piranhas can still grab 2nd. Evo have had some super close games, a 2 pt loss to Seahawks, a 6pt loss to Piranhas, a 4pt loss to Bandits... but sit bottom. But this is their first full season of junior league, and we know they will come on stronger and stronger as the club grows.
With Evo not offering this age, and Storm concentrating on National League for them, the U18s is a 3 way fight.
Seahawks are finished at 0.500%, 2W-2L. Piranhas and Bandits play each other this Sunday 12th March. If Bandits win, it would give the Weymouth club 3 titles across 4 age groups. If Piranhas win, this age group goes to a triple head-to-head-to-head, but with each club splitting their games one win / one loss, it would go to overall points +/- for the final standings....
Currently Bandits are +36, Seahawks are -10, and Piranhas are -26.
So, if Poole win and then by 17pts or more they jump Seahawks to 2nd. They would need to win by 31 or more to take the league.
Although the final standings are yet to be decided, Playoffs will be played after the Easter break. We are hoping that the 1st seed team will have home court advantage for the Finals, but this needs to be confirmed by the venues.
The committee is looking at a 4th/5th Play-in game. The winner of this takes on 1st spot in Semi-Final 1, whilst 2nd and 3rd face off in the other Semi-Final. The Winners then advance to the DBA Junior Final.
The U18's looks like it will be a 3 way CVL tournament.