Gippsland women start finals strong

The now: Gippsland United Women will be out to emulate the feat of Latrobe City's Energy team of 16 years ago, by winning Big V.





FROM Gippsland United’s men’s and women’s sides, we are witnessing both sides of the coin, as both teams are experiencing contrasting finals campaigns.

While the women have started strongly to their three-game semi-finals series against Surf Coast, the men were subsequently knocked-out in straight sets to the hands of Pakenham.


FOLLOWING last week’s loss to the RMIT Redbacks, Gippsland United men were forced to play a do-or-die game against Pakenham – who finished the season fourth on the ladder.

At the Gippsland Regional Indoors Sports Stadium at the weekend, it was the away side that started best, and not only held a lead, but allowed it to grow.

Pakenham took a four point lead at the end of the first, before doubling Gippy’s score in the second term to blow the lead out to 16 points at halftime.

Just when you thought United would start their comeback, Pakenham just continued on their merry way, adding five to the margin as is surpassed 20 points, leading 63-42 with a quarter to play.

Gippy United then started to play their brand of basketball, and with the game on their terms they were able to win a quarter, but it was a little too late.

Despite winning the final quarter, scoring 23-16, it was near-on impossible to win from 21 points down in that position.

United brought the deficit back to 14 points, the lowest it had been since the second quarter, the game finishing 79-65.

Oliver Amajoyi scored 20 points, leading the way for Gippsland, complimented by Jordon Canovan (12 points) and Jordan Gooiker (11).

Amajoyi was also prominent off the backboard, amassing nine rebounds – so close to a double-double, Canovan and Billy Hughes helped in that regard with seven boards each.

It was a poor shooting effort from United, with no starter scoring at more than 40 per cent all game.

Now that their season has come to a close, we can admit it was a decent first stint in Division 1 for the men, especially since they made finals, they can grow from this experience and have another crack next season.


NOW onto the women, who are playing for a chance to join the men in Division 1 next season.

In their quest to the Grand Finals series, Gippsland must overcome Surf Coast in a best-of-three series, and they got off to the best of starts with a win in the opening encounter at the weekend.

United dominated Surf Coast after the first quarter, on their way to a Grand Final berth.
Surf Coast had a nine-point advantage in the opening period, putting United on the back foot early, hoping to sustain and develop a lead.

Yet, that wasn’t to be, as Gippsland clapped back quickly and made them pay.
Gippy United drew the deficit back to four points at halftime, before then taking the lead in the third quarter and stretching it out to three points.

But none of that was necessary after what happened in the final quarter, when United humiliated Surf Coast, outscoring them by a monster 20 points.

Gippsland scored a mammoth 32 points in order to draw their lead out to 23 points once time had expired, claiming a 1-0 lead in the semi-finals series.

The scoring charge was led by Alahna Arnason, who scored 26 points at 71.43 per cent, completing a double-double with 10 rebounds.

She was complimented on the scoreboard by Lauren Tuplin (19 points), Krystal Arnason (12) and MaKenzie Miller (10).

Tuplin was helpful off the backboard too with six rebounds of her own, while Emily Scholtes claimed seven off the bench.

In the other series, Wallan defeated Blackburn 67-53, to take a 1-0 lead in their series.
This time next week we will know if Gippsland United will progress, and who they could potentially stack up against in the Grand Finals series.

Gippsland United Women play Surf Coast in the second leg in the best-of-three this Saturday at Gippsland Regional Indoor Sports Stadium.



ON the eve of a Grand Final appearance for the Gippsland United Women’s Basketball team last Saturday, it was the Latrobe City Energy’s 2007 team that gathered courtside to reminisce about the last time a Gippsland team won the Big V Division 2 Championship.

Starting guard, Jess Murphy said it was great to catch up with the group and chat about playing together and the time that has elapsed since 2007.

Only two of the 2007 Energy players are still playing with Jamilee Pearce playing Championship Women in an undefeated Wyndham team (averaging seven points, six rebounds) and Tara McKenzie (nee Carroll) in a surprising twist plays for Surf Coast, and matches up against Gippsland United again this Saturday night.

McKenzie (nee Carrol) averaged 11 points, 12 rebounds and two blocks per game in 2007, while in 2023 she contributes eight points and six rebounds per game.

Laura Vannaprasueth has not ruled out a return to the game after COVID and the birth of son, Lenny. Carmen Weaver and Jess Murphy catch up regularly as parents and coaches of junior teams.

The 2007 Energy and 2023 Gippsland United seasons are remarkably similar, with both teams going almost undefeated during the regular season.

In 2007, the Energy Women lost by one point to Whittlesea and 11 points to Ringwood. The team swept the finals series against a strong Sherbrooke after defeating Whittlesea in the preliminary final.

Fast Forward to 2023 and the Gippsland United Women have only lost one game, during Round 17 in an eight-point nail-biter against Wallan. The two might meet again in the finals, with both teams recording wins in the first week of the semi-final’s.

The similarities between the two eras don’t end there, with Energy averaging 85 points per game, while United is better with 87. Both teams had strong defence efforts, giving up only 60 points to their opponents and dominating on the boards.

The Gippsland United Division 2 Women are truly representative of Gippsland, have a great team culture and a balance of senior players and up-and-coming juniors. Amazingly, eight players are averaging 10 points. American Import MaKenzie Miller averages 16 points per game, followed by Lauren Tuplin (13), Alahna Arnason (12) Emily Scholtes (12), Chloe Hogg (10), Joanna Watson (10) and Krystal Arnason (10).

The team is well-placed to record another Division 2 State Championship for Gippsland.

“It’s great to see Gippsland Women represented in finals again and for women’s sport to be in the spotlight at a state level,” Murphy said.

“It’s inspiring for all young athletes, but especially our young girls and in particular my daughters.

“Everyone should come out to support the United Women on Saturday, but I especially look forward to catching up with previous players and teammates who have represent the region in past years. Gippsland has a strong list of players that have represented the region, the state and Australia.”

The now: Gippsland United Women will be out to emulate the feat of Latrobe City’s Energy team of 16 years ago, by winning Big V.

Gun: Gippsland United import Makenzie Millar has been a key player this season.