THE Penrith Panthers Under 14 Division One men's team has finished the regular season of the NSW Metropolitan league in second position and, as a result, will join 23 other teams from across Australia to compete at the Australian U14 Club Championships, which are being held in Perth from October 1 to 6.
The Panthers team is a success story from beginning to end, with six bottom-age players (12-year olds) and four top-age players (13-year olds), combining to form the youngest team in the Under 14 First Division men's competition.
All four top-age boys (Brendan Hands, Caleb Field, Joshua Calwy and Kevin Achampong) were selected in the NSW Under 14 Talented Athlete Program (TAP) earlier this year, while the six bottom-age players (Daniel Goldrick, Jasper Rentoy, Lachlan Charlton, Logan Rymer Thomas Charlton and Jacob Zalac) were all selected for the NSW Under 13 All-Star Camp, which will be held in Gosford from September 1 to 2.
Head coach Curtis Sardi said: "Last year (2011) the Under 12 men had a great season and six members of that team were selected in this year's Under 14 team, along with the four top-age players who had already played their first year in the Under 14 age group in First Division".
"This group has come together extremely well and are playing their best basketball at the business end of the season.
"The boys should be congratulated on a great season so far - given they are the youngest team in the Sydney competition with six bottom age players
"Manly and Hornsby have four bottom-age players in their programs this year, while Hills District only had one player and the remaining teams did not have any bottom-age players," said a very proud Sardi.
"It just shows you how hard this group has worked to qualify for the Nationals.
"We are also only the second U/14 boy's team from Penrith to ever qualify for the National Championships - the first being 16 years ago under current WCL head coach Jeff Cooper."