Timberwolves set for NSW Country test

The Tumut Timberwolves under 12s girls’ team that will play at the John Martin NSW Country Basketball Tournament in Terrigal over the weekend. Back row: Monique Toppin, Sierra Roddy, Rubi O’Sullivan, Marli Hartshorn, Ellie Cobden and Stephanie James. Front row: Mia Beckett, Alliena Roddy, Jaylee Byrne and Millie Murray.

The Tumut Timberwolves under 12s girls’ representative basketball team will trek to Terrigal this weekend when competing at the John Martin NSW Country Basketball Tournament. 

Playing on Saturday and Sunday, the Tumut team will take on Maitland, Illawarra and Lithgow, and if they reach the finals, they will also play on Monday.

Coach Stephanie James explained that her girls were excited to compete at an event, after Covid-19 cancelled many tournaments over the past 18 months.

“We have been training every week for the whole year,” James said. 

“We jumped at the chance and the girls are super excited and it’s been good that we are still playing at the moment.”

James has teamed up with her daughter and A-Grade basketball player, Monique Toppin, which is a big reason why the girls were able to attend the Terrigal competition. 

“We are the only Tumut team going because you need to have an accredited coach and referee to enter this competition and we are lucky enough that I’m accredited and Monique can referee,” James said. 

It has been a busy time of the year for the girls, who have been training twice a week and playing Tumut Netball association finals with their club teams.

“Some of them are training twice a week because of their competition teams, and they playing as well, so they should be ready,” James said. 

James has coached the girls for two years, and with some progressing to under 14s next year, it was the perfect time to see how the team performs against bigger associations. 

“I coached them last year and this year, and this will be the last year they play together – it will be good to see how they play,” James said. 

The team has kept their training to the basics, with James focusing on skills and girl-to-girl basketball. 

“We have mostly worked on skills,” James said. 

“They say at this age, just concentrate on skills. We have had a match against a senior girls’ team, which was really good, but we have just practiced our man-to-man, which is compulsory at this level.”

James and Toppin are keeping their expectations to a minimum ahead of their trip to Terrigal and instead, they want to see the girls developing and improving with each game. 

“I just want them to be more confident,” James said. 

“They have the skill, because that’s what we have been working on, and once we get into the game situation and it all comes together, it will give the girls a lot of confidence. 

“Plus, we want to be building on their teamwork.”

James thanked Toppin for her help with the girls, and her players’ parents, for being so supportive of training and this weekend’s competition. 

“They really love working with Monique; she gives them high fives and we have a little chant before we start that she organised with them,” James said.

“We have a good little crew with all the parents; they have been supportive, especially when other kids play other sports, but we have all worked together and done the best we can.”