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Elly’s making a point against best
Shepparton’s Elly Keating is 14 years old, 164 cm tall and every week she goes toe-to-toe with some of Australia’s premier basketball players.
The pint-sized point guard has joined South East Australian Basketball League team Albury-Wodonga Lady Border Bandits and in her first game Keating found herself up against former New Zealand Olympian Natalie Taylor.
Last week it was Australian youth team representative Tayla Roberts in game two.
As if the challenge was not daunting enough, Keating was struck down with tonsillitis one game into the season.
She admitted the illness meant she was ‘‘stuffed after warm-ups’’, but she still managed to see court time in both her opening games, which in itself was a major achievement.
‘‘The coach told us at the start of the season she promises us zero minutes,’’ Keating said. ‘‘I was pretty nervous in my first game, I don’t think I was thinking much at the time when she told me to go on.’’
Keating was invited to train with the team by Shepparton-based coach Tammy Goyne and went along to the shirt presentation in Albury before realising she was part of the squad.
Now she is benefiting from the guidance of senior players, including starting point guard Tenille Collins.
‘‘I went up at the start just as a development player just to train with them and then I got measured up and got a top,’’ she said.
‘‘The coaching is good and I think I learn more off playing with the more experienced players.’’
According to Keating, the SEABL was much faster than Country Basketball League, but she had not yet noticed an increase in the physicality of the competition.
Keating said ‘‘it isn’t that bad because I’m not really under the ring’’.
Keating is also a goalkeeper for Shepparton United in Goulburn North East Football Association and could play in the club’s senior team this season.
However, she is hoping not to have to choose between her two favourite sports and looks up to Australian sports star Ellyse Perry, who regularly represents Australia in cricket and soccer, as a role model.
For now though, Keating is happy to prepare for the next star opponent willing to take her on.