WESTFIELD Sports High were the only school that stood between St Joseph’s Regional College being the best in New South Wales.
At Sydney’s state championships last week, the year seven and eight girls were beaten 28-14 in the final.
On the way, the Port Macquarie school defeated Shellharbour Anglican College 25-15, Cowra High School 25-8 and Warnervale’s Mackillop College 20-19 to qualify for the semi-finals.
They then registered a 21-9 win over Kildare Catholic College to book their place in the final.
Team manager Janine Handley conceded they were outclassed by the well-renowned Sydney school, but not disgraced.
They advanced to the state finals after defeating Mackillop College in the All-Schools semi-final earlier in the year.
“We’ve never gone to state level before because usually Mackillop College are the ones that go there – particularly over the last couple of years,” Handley said.
While admitting they received the bonus of being on the other side of the draw to the eventual winners, they still sailed through undefeated.
“We won all our pool rounds and won all our games to the final, but we were lucky in that we were in the good side of the draw,” she said.
Handley said the secret to their success was with a tight-knit playing group.
“We just had a team that had each other’s backs and they certainly fought above their weight,” she said.
“There are no champions in the team – it’s a team of champions.”
They were also the only team to have two players who had never played netball before.
“We didn’t expect to come runner-up in the state,” the manager said.
Handley admitted coach Donna Hamlin played her part in the team’s success.
“She is one of the best coaches I’ve been involved with,” she said.
“If the girls made a mistake, she told them to lift their head and not to worry about it.”