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6 April, 2021

Northern Challenge Wheelchair Basketball

AFTER the cancellation of the Northern Challenge wheelchair basketball series in 2020, it was with great relief that Rounds 1 & 2 of the 2021 series were contested at Mackay Multi Sport Stadium on Saturday 27 and Sunday 28 March.

Cooper Whitestyles picking for Brayden Foxley-Conolly

The tournament is normally contested by Rockhampton, Mackay, Townsville and Cairns. Unfortunately, this year Townsville Cyclones could not enter a team. 

To fill out the tournament, Rockhampton’s Frenchville Rockwheelersraised a second, composite team being five Rocky players and two from Townsville. 

The four competing teams were, the hosts Mackay Machines, Rockwheelers Black, Rockwheelers Green (the composite team) and Cairns Hoopsnakes.

The very first game on Saturday, saw the Machines suffer their only loss of the weekend at the hands of Rockwheelers Black. Sunday morning’s opener of Round 2 saw the Machines reverse the Round 1 result.

These two teams ended the weekend with 5 wins from 6 games which should yield a strong Round 3 and Finals in September.

The two rosters are starkly different; the Machines being, on average, younger and shorter, and including two women while Rockwheelers Black is all male, taller and older.

Not surprisingly, the standout entertainer of the weekend was Mackay’s 16-year-old Australian Rollers emerging squad member Brayden Foxley-Conolly, with his end-to-end layups and long range shooting.

The youngest player in the tournament, Machines’ Zac Uhr, played more minutes than ever before and certainly justified those minutes with his laser accurate passing and his cool head and great play inside the keyway against far taller opposition.

Captain Cooper Whitestyles did a mountain of picking typified by the accompanying photo in which he is taking out Rockwheelers Green player Peter Voltz, clearing the way to another successful layup for Foxley-Conolly.

Another youngster to stand out was Rockwheelers Green teenager Brianna Bloomfield, who steadily improved across the entire weekend; another cool young head.

This was another exciting wheelchair basketball tournament that was thoroughly enjoyed by spectators and players alike.

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