Eagles shaking tail feathers

March 14, 2018

National Basketball League legend Calvin Bruton passes on his knowledge to Black Eagles players.

Black Eagles' Kalarni Atkinson sees through the defence as she goes to put up her shot.

Black Eagles' Sophie Atkinson backs herself in to find the basket.

Black Eagles benefited from the influence of former Australian Opal Rohanee Cox.

There were exiting times for players of the Black Eagles basketball club after an action-packed long weekend.

To kick-start the weekend and whet everyone’s appetite for four days of scintillating basketball, National Basketball legend Calvin Bruton ran a clinic with the junior Black Eagles at St Luke’s Primary School in Shepparton.

Having played in five NBL teams spanning three decades, Bruton had plenty of knowledge to pass on to the large crowd that came to learn from him.

Born in New York, Bruton became an Australian citizen in 1983, midway through his time with the Geelong Supercats.

The year was a positive one for Bruton who was named in the NBL’s First Team for the first time, going on to achieve the same feat the following year.

The NBL Hall of Fame member not only has the skills to develop the next generation, but was able to articulate clearly to the Black Eagles’ players how to improve.

Having been named NBL Coach of the Year in 1982, his ability to direct players transcended across to the younger age group.

But Friday night was only the beginning of a big weekend for Shepparton’s Aboriginal basketball community.

Saturday marked day one of the three-day Victorian Aboriginal Community Services Association Limited tournament, which visited Shepparton for the first time.

While 100 teams entered the tournament, it was the local talent that shone brightest.

Black Eagles’ A-women’s side had Ben Hur-sized expectations on its shoulders with former Australian Opal Rohanee Cox taking to the court for the local side.

With a Women’s National Basketball League most-valuable-player award up her sleeve, she served as yet another high-profile basketballer in the region.

Her impact was enormous as the Black Eagles took out the A-women’s grand final, with a dominant 49-21 defeat of Darling Mob.

In B-grade women, the Black Eagles reached the decider, but were unable to secure the same success as their teammates.

Taking the court against Ina Eels, the Black Eagles fell 10 points short in a competitive encounter.

The B-grade side won through to the final having clinched a low-scoring encounter against Lake Condah Wanderers.

Black Eagles found their way into the C-grade finals, but were forced to exit in the preliminary final at the hands of West Vic Eels.

In men’s competition, the Black Eagles’ A-men clinched a thriller against MAYSAR in the highlight of their tournament.

While MAYSAR took the early lead, Mitch Tambo was sensational as he scored 15 points and received valuable assistance from Robert and Tristan Miller.

A strong junior competition was also present with the Black Eagles’ under-18 boys’ side topping the ladder and taking out the title in an outstanding 53-50 win against Yakapna.

The local side was defeated in the grand final of both the under-16 boys’ and girls’ competitions, but will be looking forward to the chance to compete again, with the VACSAL tournament to return to Shepparton for the next two years.

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