Grant Cole let on his Australian Country Cup under 15s side was up against some very physical opposition at last weekend’s Mel Young Easter Classic in New Zealand.
What he didn’t give away was his boys in green and gold aged 12 and 13 from NSW, Victoria and South Australia were well and truly capable of punching above their weight.
Against some ginormous opposition at Tauranga, a town on the land of the long white cloud’s north island, the Aussies stormed to the tournament victory in an overtime thriller against Waitekerie, coming from behind to prevail 87-81.
Cole was thrilled for his team, one that battled vastly taller opposition for virtually the entire four days in New Zealand and still managed to progress through to the final undefeated.
“These young men were outstanding all week,” Cole said from New Zealand, praising his side’s never-say-die attitude.
“They never gave up against some very big teams to make it to the grand final undefeated and they came from behind to win in overtime.
“Every single player contributed all week every time they stepped onto the court.”
The team qualified for the final thanks to a 63-58 win over Waikato in front of a massive crowd that ballooned during a semi-final’s final quarter.
Incredibly, Cole’s tallest player looked up to all bar one of the opposition’s players in that clash.
Cole dubbed that contest a genuine David versus Goliath encounter.
The win marked the first time an Australian Country Cup side has made the final of the under 15 boys’ division of the tournament.
“Super proud of them all,” he added.
“And to be the first Australian under 15 boys’ team to make it to a grand final at this tournament and then win it is a huge achievement in its self.”
The boys… Louis, Austin, Noah, Mitch SA, Brodie, Tate, Liam Victoria and Noah, Josh and Massimo from NSW defeated… Manawatu NZ 79-71 Hibiscus Coast NZ 125-59 CMBB Franklin NZ 68-58 North Sydney Aust 93-62 quarter final Waikato NZ 63-58 semi final Waitakere NZ 87-81 Final