PROMISING hoops talent Rowan Mackenzie carried his impressive late SBL season form to the School Sport Australia (SSA) Basketball Championships to be named the most valuable player in the 18 and under competition.
Injuries to key Lakeside Lightning players opened the door for the 17-year-old shooting guard, who grabbed the opportunity with both hands to regularly clock more than 20 minutes of court time per game for the senior side in the second half of the season.
During that time he shot at better than 50 per cent from beyond the arc and ended the season on a high with a personal best 19 points against the ladder topping Willetton Tigers.
The Attadale teenager then carried that momentum to the SSA Basketball Championships, averaging 25 points and nine rebounds per game and helping Western Australia to the bronze medal – a year after the state was held winless throughout the tournament.
“I played last year when we lost two or three times in overtime and every game we were within 10 points,” he said.
“The team definitely had a chip on its shoulder this time around and wanted to prove we were better than that.”
After steaming out of the gates to win three games on the trot, including a 13-point win over eventual champions NSW Invitational, WA lost its remaining two fixtures to finish the group stage third.
A semi-final loss to NSW Invitational set up a bronze medal showdown with Queensland, who earlier in the tournament had pipped WA by just one point.
“The bronze medal game was neck and neck until half-time but we got away after that and ended up winning 83-69,” Mackenzie said.
The Aquinas College student is currently completing Year 12 and plans to take a gap year to concentrate on basketball in 2018.
“My goal is to play professionally and hopefully get to travel with my basketball,” he said.