Western Cape Sport School coach Lindile “Lala” Khetelo’s under-16 girls’ side had a solid season, finishing second in both the Royal Bafokeng junior Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) annual invitational tournament and Cape Town Basketball Association (CTBA) league finals.
Although going down 36-4 to champions Montana Vikings, in the final game of the CTBA season, at UCT, last month, making it to the final was a step in the right direction, says Khetelo.
Despite the fact that it was, for most of his players, the first season with the team, they exceeded expectations by doing so well in a short space of time, recording five wins and only three defeats.
Throughout the season they scored 244 and conceded 242 points. With the final against Montana being a one-sided affair, Khetelo believes his side lost the match on the psychological front.
“It was one of those games where the core of my players had an off day.
“When my junior players (under-14s) came on court they stepped up a gear and rose to the occasion,” he said.
Khetelo said his side had a great season and believes his juniors stepped up to the plate when called upon.
“The players have worked hard and grown as individuals. The new players that came this year added great value and I could see the team chemistry growing,” he said.
Last year, the under-16 side were losing semi-finalists but stepped up a gear by making this year’s finals. Khetelo said the goal was to win the league but the better team, Montana Vikings, went on to win on the day.
“As a coach you can never be happy because you always want them to be hungry for more. However, it was a great 2016 season and we achieved so much as a team and individuals,” said Khetelo, who believes basketball has a bright future at the Western Cape Sport School.
“There is great hope for the future with the squad we have and the competition around Cape Town looks positive.
“One cannot relax and take comfort because we need to compete every day to better ourselves. We are taking things step by step and the pupils don’t always realise that but when it comes to the management of the team we know we are on the right track,” he said.
Earlier this year, they lost 36-26 to hosts Royal Bafokeng in the final of the Royal Bafokeng junior WNBA annual invitational tournament, in the North-West Province.
It was the first time the side played outside of Cape Town and gave a good account of themselves on the court.
Khetelo said the tournament was epic as his players exceeded his expectations.
“We had good preparation leading up to the competition as we played against CPUT (Bellville) and Maties.
“They gave it their all in the competition and adjusted well to the climate challenges.
“We did not only represent the school but the Western Cape and did not disappoint for debutants,” he said.
Khetelo credits the team’s managers Twoboy Moyo and Nomfundo Mshemla because he could not have done it without them.
“They were dedicated and committed throughout the season. I could always count on them as they were hands on with daily activities,” he said.