JUST another local representing Victoria at national level.

This time, Traralgon’s Mica Nightingale did so, donning the Victorian colours at the Under 18 National Championships in Brisbane last month.

It was Nightingale’s second time on the national stage, continually improving each and every year.

Last year, Nightingale took part as a top-ager in the Under 16 National Championships in Perth, while the year before that as a bottom-ager, she was just an emergency for the U16 side.

Now, as a bottom aged U18 player, Nightingale consistently made the starting five for Victoria Country, another step up in her books.

“It was pretty surreal being a bottom-ager, being selected was pretty cool. I was a bit nervous because I was versing so many talented elite athletes from other states, and I wasn’t really sure how I would go,” Nightingale said on her feelings prior to the competition.

As the championships wound up, so did Nightingale, seemingly finding her feet with ease, matching the level of those girls aged a year older than her.

“I was usually scouted to be put on the best players from the other team by my coach. But it was a challenge, it’s such a step up from VJBL (Victorian Junior Basketball League) … switching to the national level is crazy,” the 16-year-old said.

“The speed, the athleticism, everyone is just so good, the competition is (a step-up).”

Despite being good enough to claim starting five status, Nightingale said she was surprised that she was given that responsibility.

The Victoria Country side walked away with a bronze medal after defeating South Australia Country in the third-place match, catching the eye of some in attendance, as the country side was seen as less superior to the metro team.

“Everyone thought we weren’t gonna make it anywhere, because metro always seem to be the better team (from Victoria), so we were the underdogs, and it was pretty cool to come out with a bronze,” Nightingale said.

“Not many of us expected to medal.”

From the eight games she played, Nightingale started on the court in each of them.

Over the week of competition, Nightingale scored 60 points (averaging 7.5), had 45 rebounds (averaging 5.6), as well as one steal per game, three assists and three blocks.

Her stand out game was in sixth of the championships against New South Wales Country, where Nightingale recorded a double-double: 17 points, 10 rebounds, as well as an assist and two blocks.

Nightingale began her basketball career at the age of seven, before joining competition as a bottom aged Under 10 player.

Almost 10 years into a basketball journey that has taken up more than half of her life, Nightingale has basketball deep in her blood.

Not only is she an exceptional basketballer, but so is her sister, who will be jetting off to Davidson College, committing to the North Carolina college in the US.

“I’d (also) love to go to college, it’s definitely an option for me,” Nightingale said on her sister going to college.

“It would be pretty cool to go to the same college as my sister. But we’ll see how that goes.”

Nightingale sees WNBL as a viable goal for the future, yet already has commitments to VJBL, Youth League (Under 23s) and NBL1 with the Casey Cavaliers.

Nightingale has to drive a four hour round trip on Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday on most weeks to fill those commitments.

In terms of her next step, along with maintaining her representation opportunities, Nightingale hopes to play some NBL1 games, on top of hopefully qualifying for an Aus Camp or go to college.

Nightingale spoke on her sister, Asha, as an asset, and how she has helped her develop into the player she is today.

“(Asha is) a real leader, and she’s just a very good player on and off the court,” Mica said.

“I love the way she plays, she’s very strong and resilient.

“She’s definitely my role model. We get to play Youth League together this year which is pretty cool, and hopefully higher up like college or something in the future.”