Australia's best junior basketball talent will converge on the AIS for the under-20 Ivor Burge championships this week and two of Canberra’s most promising stars, Hunter Clarke and Issie Bourne, are ready for the challenge.
Bourne and Clarke are both products of Basketball Australia’s Centre of Excellence program, which operates out of the AIS and have played in Canberra for a majority of their junior careers.
This will be Bourne’s last national junior tournament before she heads overseas for college later this year and says she’s looking forward to playing one last time.
“I’m excited of course, and ready to hit out our last Nationals,” said Bourne. “A few of us have gone through the junior program together so we’re excited to give it a and shot and hopefully get a medal.
“[Under-20s is] super special. Seeing how far everyone’s come and how close we are, knowing what everyone’s capable of on the court is such an advantage for ACT as we’re so small and obviously we’ve all played together throughout the years, so we all know what each other can do and we can help each other so in that sense, we’re tight.”
In a competition that is dominated by the likes of Victoria and New South Wales, the ACT teams will be looking to put on an impressive show for their home crowd.
While Bourne admits that the tournament is great fun, she says that the team is more focused on competing well and giving themselves the best chance at claiming a medal.
“As a team, our strength obviously would be that we all have played together so we know each other, how each other plays really well and how we can help each other well,” Bourne said.
“One of our weaknesses will probably be just being inconsistent in the game, because sometimes we have patches, so keeping the positivity up during the game will be really helpful.
“I’m looking forward to playing with the girls for the last time and taking in every moment of being with them for the last time and enjoying it and of course, we want to win a medal.”
Born in Canberra, Clarke split his youth between South Australia, California and Tasmania before finally returning to Canberra in 2017 on an NBA Global Academy scholarship.
Having missed out on the opportunity to represent ACT in a national tournament in the past, Clarke says the he’s keen to represent Canberra on home turf.
“I’m really looking forward to it especially since its in Canberra,” said Clarke. “I think it will be a bit different to the other nationals I’ve been to so I’m really pumped for this one."