The Cootamundra Cougars have slam dunked a spot at the NSW titles after recording two wins and two losses in last weekend's final round of matches in the Under 16 NSW Country Championship League competition.
The eight team competition consists of teams from Cootamundra and much larger centres of Wollongong, Newcastle, Coffs Harbour, Maitland, Gosford, Taree and a composite Western Reds.
Described as naturally talented athletes, who have developed combinations over four years, the Cougars now begin preparing for the NSW titles to be held at Niagara Park on the central coast in August.
Under the guidance of coach Kieran Purvis and manager Susan Purvis-Masters the team will line up against the top four country side and top four metro sides at the state titles.
"They're so strong because they've been together since the under 12s," Kieran Purvis said.
"They know each other's play so well which makes playing a lot eaiser and we have a number of high performance athletes in the team.
"It's an absolutely amazing achievement."
Purvis doesn't believe the Cougars will simply be making up the numbers at Niagara Park.
"I think we have the game to compete," he said.
"The girls have shown they have the ability to compete in and win games at this level."
In Amelia Hassett the team boosts a State level player.
"Plus there are a lot of other natural athletes in the team who have played basketball for a long time and can just make things happen on the court," he said.
"They're just a pretty naturally talented team."
The team consists of Hassett along with Abbey Reinhold, Alexandria Oliver, Amelia Chambers, Halle Derrick, Odessa Tregear and Ruby Watterson.
Last weekend the girls' gruelling schedule included three games on Saturday and a fourth game on Sunday at the Beaton Park complex in Wollongong.
The side won their first two games, against Gosford City (69-63) and Western Reds (65-52) before going down to the Illawarra Hawks 71-63 and then fighting hard before losing to the Coffs Harbour Suns (72-69) on Sunday.
"In the game against Illawarra Hawks it was our third game for the day, it was a winnable game but we got into foul trouble," Purvis said of the 71-63 defeat.
"The girls were actually up for the majority of the game before the tables turned and we lost our legs in the final quarter."
Purvis also believes tired legs contributed to the side's final loss against the Coffs Harbour Suns.
"Again we lost our legs," he said of the Sunday match.
"Coffs is quite an athletic side, they run, run, run whereas we have to be a bit more patient.
"They were ahead for most of the game and we kept coming back but it takes a lot of energy to constantly try to come back," he said.
The two wins, after their earlier performances in round one of the competition, were enough to see the team finish fourth overall behind the Illawarra Hawks, Coffs Harbour Suns and Newcastle Hunter.
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