UP TO THE PLATE: Ray Cooper's under-18 boys are primed for a top-four assualt in the Basketball QLD State Championships starting on Monday. Photo Nick Kossatch / Observer
UP TO THE PLATE: Ray Cooper's under-18 boys are primed for a top-four assualt in the Basketball QLD State Championships starting on Monday. Photo Nick Kossatch / Observer NICK KOSSATCH

Under-18 boys keen to step it up

FRESH on the back of a 12-0 Central District Carnival basketball campaign, the Gladstone under-18 boy's basketball team is geared for new challenges ahead of the Basketball QLD State Championships starting today until Friday at the Sunshine Coast.

Newly-reappointed Gladstone Port City Power women's coach Ray Cooper is also mentoring the Power's next crop of men's talent in the 10-man squad.

"Last year they won gold in division two and now we are in division one and it will be at a higher intensity and the players will be bigger," Cooper said.

There is plenty of motivation for Cooper's charges to take it up to some of Queensland's best young basketballers throughout the five-day event.

"They will be playing against kids who are in both the Australian under-17 and under-19 squads and we have five kids here that if they perform at the championships, may make it into the North QLD team for the nationals in Adelaide in April," Cooper added about the extra incentive for his players to perform.

One of the major strengths as to why Cooper's lads have had such resounding success has been because each player knows what the other is doing on the court, and off it.

"These boys have been together since the under-12 and they are a close-knit group and there is definitely a team camaraderie," Cooper said.

He added that there won't be an individual focus as he aims for his team to a lofty finish.

"It's pretty much about the whole team stepping up and I am projecting the team to finish in the top four or five which may be the highest in about 10 years," Cooper said.

He expects Mitch Knight to slot into the starting five in the number four position.

The tournament includes teams from as far as Cairns through to down south from Toowoomba.

GLADSTONE UNDER-18 BOYS

Dylan Owen (top age)

Cameron MacDonald (top age)

Mitchell Glossop (top age)

Mitchell Knight (bottom age)

Declan King (bottom age)

Botond Hajos (bottom age)

Jace Arnold (bottom age)

Lachie Wilmot (bottom age)

Lee Gillett (bottom age)

Declan Kenny (bottom age)



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