Trio set for nationals

Big V: Traralgon basketballers Emily Scholtes, Ben Waller and Asha Nightingale will represent Victoria Country at the National Championships in coming months. photograph liam durkin


THE Australian Under-18 Junior Championships await for a trio of local basketball stars.
Traralgon youngsters Ben Waller, Emily Scholtes and Asha Nightingale have been selected for Victoria Country to play in the championships to be held this April.
Fittingly, the country combatants will don the Big V in a regional town, making the journey to Ballarat to compete against some of the best players in their age group.
The Year 10 students have put in many hours of hard work behind the scenes to get to this point, with their selections ticking off another landmark in their basketball journeys.
Waller, Scholtes and Nightingale are kept busy in basketball, training most nights of the week as well as playing locally for the Traralgon T-Birds in the Country Basketball League and for the newly established Gippsland United, who are set to compete in the Victorian Junior Basketball League.
For Waller, a small forward, the opportunity to wear a Victoria Country singlet was something he counted as a great honour.
“Being able to play against the highest level of talent will be a great challenge,” he said.
Scholtes and Nightingale shared similar sentiments, and said the championships would provide a strong platform for them both to mature and learn even more as players.
“I’m looking forward to the championships and the chance to progress my basketball further,” Scholtes said.
“Getting to play at a high level will be terrific for our development,” Nightingale said.
The power forwards have been exposed to high level environments before, and were invited to train with the Melbourne Boomers last year when the NBL team was in Traralgon as part of their regional tour.
Describing training with the Boomers as “so intense”, the pair said it was a great experience to gain an insight into what is required to make it to a professional level.
In seeking to take their basketball further, Scholtes and Nightingale pointed to fellow Traralgon product Jade Melbourne – now making waves in the national team for the Opals – as a role model and someone they hoped to follow in the footsteps of in years to come.
The girls will be joined by another Gippslander in Maffra’s Jaime Gallatly, who has also been selected for Victoria Country, along with Traralgon’s Wendy Campbell, who will be making the trip to Ballarat as team manager.
In the men’s team, Waller will have Maffra’s Kaleb Sclater for company as an assistant coach.
The week-long championships run from April 10 to 17 at the Ballarat Sports and Events Centre.