Benji Bell showed improvement.
Benji Bell showed improvement. Nick Kossatch GLA130419BRONZE

GALLERY: Slow start but Gladstone smash and grab bronze

BASKETBALL: Albert Maunga said some stern words from Gladstone under-16 coach Ray Cooper spurred his team to the bronze medal at the State Championships in Brisbane.

The point guard starred in the young Gladstone Port City Power's 101-61 win against South West Metro Pirates in the division two play-off for third place.

Gladstone finished the five-day championships with five wins and two losses.

"Our coach Ray Cooper basically told us that we haven't come all this way to lose the bronze medal, so we picked up our act, got our stuff together and came out strong" Albert said after a sluggish start where Pirates raced to a 12-2 lead.

From that moment onward, it was all the Power as Ben Knight (28 points) was unstoppable especially in transition.

Cooper Rhodes and Albert shot 18 points while Seth Collins scored 15 points, mostly from pull-up jump-shots and lay-ups.

Albert said he was pleased with how he played throughout the championship.

"I knew that I could easily get to the hoop and make plays for myself and for my team and that's what I did," he said.

Albert said to have Seth and Benji Bell help out to bring the ball down was beneficial.

Owen Gardiner was also huge inside the paint as Metro Pirates simply had no answers.

Gladstone lost the gold medal qualifier game against eventual winners Brisbane Capitals Silver (82-68), but Cooper said his team rebounded well.

"They came out with a bit of nerves and a quick time-out was to give them some reassurance and to say that they're doing all the right things and just to put a bit more on their defensive end," he said.

"We haven't blown anyone like that for the whole tournament and I think we've done a pretty good job to come and peak at the right time."

Cooper said some teams struggle to come to play for a bronze medal match after the disappointment of missing out on a grand final berth.

But not so for Gladstone as Cooper's boys swept the Pirates ship off the floor inside the paint, in transition and beyond the arc (six triples).

"I have full confidence in every single player," Cooper said of the rise of Benji, Angus Clancy, Luke Hampson, Nick Lantry, Jordan Zerner and Josh Morfey.

"It's an 11-man team and obviously it's a bigger squad back home."

Gladstone's girls fought hard but did not win any games and were courageous in a 72-66 loss to SC Phoenix Teal.

Erin Harvey completed a solid championship with 17 points while Eli Walsh shot 15.

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