SIXTEEN of the best young netball teams contested the 12 years State Age for 2012 with the Lithgow girls starting their preparation back in November last year.
The Lithgow 2012 squad consisted of Genna Bailey, Janaya Bennett, Kiara McDonald, Brooke Dean, Monique Rust, Britnee Brennan, Gabriella Sandona, Annalise Elliott, Ebony Brown, Keely Millar, Madeleine Griffiths, Jessica Bennett, Caitlyn Ferguson, Brielle Mendham, Emma Cross and Imogen Sharpe.
Lithgow contested two carnivals at Bathurst and Orange leading up to the championships with the squad split into two teams.
Both sides played some excellent netball and met with mixed results.
Selections were made in late April for a team to attend the championships in Charlestown (Newcastle) with the team consisting Janaya Bennett, Kiara McDonald, Annalise Elliott, Brooke Dean, Brielle Mendham, Jessica Bennett, Brittnee Brennan, Gabriella Sandona, Emma Cross and Monique Rust.
The carnival was played in miserable, cold weather, with Lithgow coming up against Parkes, Bathurst Development and Cowra who they played twice.
They enjoyed success in their first two games and had a great game against the strong Cowra outfit.
Lithgow looked good in their games as they moved the ball up and down the court with speed and efficiency.
The defenders played their hearts out, not giving the other team an inch and the shooters rarely missed.
They showed plenty of courage coming back from being down at half time in a few games, with the Lithgow girls finishing undefeated.
This was a great achievement as this was the first time the selected girls played together as a team.
State Age championships
The State Age team played 17 games over the weekend against some very talented netballers.
Lithgow won six games, finishing in 11th position in Division 4.
They were up against teams from Grafton, Cowra, Parkes, Port Stephens, Nelson Bay, Kurri Kurri, Southern Highlands and Nambucca Valley to name just a few.
The girls were excellent representatives to their association with their skills and sportsmanship.
All the pressure was taken off the girls after the championships and the weekend was billed as the fun weekend.
It was the highlight of the girls’ season, particularly for those who did not attend the championships.
The squad of 16 was split into two teams, Blue and White.
The girls travelled down Saturday afternoon, staying overnight and going to the Ettamogah Pub for dinner.
Blue (Nat Bailey and Dale Dean): Their first game was a social game against Lithgow White, with the girls trying not to show their competitiveness to win.
It was a close game, with each team going goal for goal until Blue pulled away to a 6-4 win.
Game two saw Blue playing against Windsor League and after being down 3-2 at half time, Janaya Bennett and Brittnee Brennan kept the ball out of Windsor’s shooting circle for Blue to come back to win with a confident 8-4.
Game three was against Allstars where Blue came up against a tough team who were exceptionally good with intercepts.
Blue went down 8-5.
Game four saw Lithgow up against Comets, beating them comfortably 12-8 with great team work in the circle by Annalise Elliott and Brooke Dean.
Game five was against OLQP7 where Blue drew 7 all.
It was a very close game to watch with each team going goal for goal with the hooter beating Lithgow in the end.
In game six, team work by Kiara McDonald, Genna Bailey and Ebony Brown through the centre court gave Lithgow the edge with Blue coming out on top 8-6 against Blacktown West.
The last game for the day was against Colo 11 years, with the girls having a relaxing game against the inexperienced, younger team, the final score being 11-1.
White (managed by Meg Mendham and Adele Sandona): White were unfortunate in the first game, losing 4-6 to Lithgow Blue, though it was a very social game.
Game two saw the girls play against Blacktown West where a tough game was anticipated, but won easily 9-3.
Brielle Mendham and Gabriella Sandona teamed up well in centre court, feeding the ball into the shooters.
Game three was against OLQP7 with great defence by Caitlyn Ferguson and Keely Millar shooting some nice goals, taking the team to an 8-5 win.
Windsor League was the next team for White to play against, with Imogen Sharpe working well to get the ball to the shooters.
Game five was against Comets with Madeleine Griffiths defending well to keep the score 8-1.
Game six saw the girls play against Colo 11 years, with the girls showing no mercy, winning 16-0 against the younger team.
The last game for the day saw White up against Allstars, who had beaten Blue, and where they had to win to finish in first place and Blue runners up.
The game started out fierce, with Emma Cross going in for some great intercepts in the defending circle.
The score was close at half time but the girls pulled together and with Monique Rust shooting beautifully as she had done all day, White came away with comfortable 11-4 win.
At the end of the day, White finished on 12 points and Blue on 11 points, given them first and second place in the 12 years division gold.
“The girls were so excited with their achievements and it was very rewarding to see their faces,” coach Sheree Elliott said.
“Thanks to Nat Bailey, Dale Dean, Meg Mendham and Adele Sandona who did a wonderful job on the day as always and Rose Rust, Connie Murphy and Leanne Plackson for umpiring the two teams.
“The girls have attended training each week for over six months and the selected team attended extra training sessions during May and June, and still they love their netball.
“Netball is in a healthy state when you look at the talents of these young under 12s.”