Kalamunda, Western Australia, is a long way from Eltham but Lachlan Jepsen relished the challenge to join his Eltham Wildcats teammates as they flew to Perth for the Australian under-14 Boys Club Basketball Championships.
The competition pitted the two best under-14 teams from each of the states against each other. The Wildcats originally finished third at the Victorian championships, but were granted a place when a team from another state dropped out.
After winning their first few games the Wildcats lost the next two, but snuck into the playoffs by a solitary percentile, and beat WA’s Perry Lakes Hawks to finish fifth.
Lachlan says he loved the trip and had to be convinced to come home.
“It was awesome – we did fun stuff each night and we all wanted to stay over there,” he says. “I thought I played all right, I had a few bad games but other than that I did pretty well.”
Lachlan, 13, has become something of a basketball prodigy, despite his lack of height.
“I’m only about 155cm, so I’m not very tall,” he says.
Still, he plays point guard and is gaining a reputation as a sharp shooter, as Eltham Wildcats coach Greg Jeffers explains.
“His shooting ability is among the best in Victoria,” Jeffers says. “He displayed this in a tournament against the ACT where he hit five three-pointers.”
According to Lachlan, he has shooting ability but needs to improve.
“Getting those five three-pointers shows the improvement I have made from last season,” he says.
Lachlan’s basketball journey began at Greenhills Primary School in Greensborough.
“When I was about five years old and in prep I saw these people playing this game,” he says. “I didn’t know what it was, so I asked them, and they said it was called basketball.
“I went into the school team at Greenhills and then moved to Eltham in 2007. So I’ve always played it,. I love getting on the court and either making an assist or a friend gets it to me and I score.”
He now goes to Ivanhoe Grammar School’s Plenty campus, based in Doreen, and has already won awards for basketball.
“The school is very proud of his achievements thus far,” says school spokesperson Rosa Good.
With competition over for the season the focus now is on trials and practice matches for next season. He’s hoping to make the Victorian representative teams for his age group but in the long term picks the Lakers as his dream club.
“But you have to crawl before you can walk,” he says. ■