A friendship forged on the basketball court and steeled with weekly face-offs – there is a lot more to Maddi Baxter and Monique Rudder’s relationship than one might expect.
The teenage duo will lead the charge for Port Macquarie’s under-17 Seaside Classic women’s side this weekend.
While their slick chemistry may look like a partnership grown in weekly games on the same side, the reality is quite different.
They are besties now, but they grew as on-court opponents, pushing, challenging and trying to beat each other for their respective teams.
But come Sunday afternoon, they will use those years of scouting as they shoot for a semi-final – and ultimately grand final – position in Port’s campaign.
“We have to play each other on Monday nights and we just go at each other most of the time,” Rudder said.
While they admit they draw the line at being overly aggressive on the court every Monday, it is that competitiveness that will benefit them at the largest odd-age carnival on the North Coast.
“We have good chemistry and work well together (on the other days),” Baxter added.
The teenage duo met on the basketball court five years ago and have been side-by-side ever since, attending St Joseph’s Regional College.
Baxter represented NSW Country at the under-16 Australian junior championships at the Sunshine Coast a few months ago.
They have both been selected to play in the under-18 Country development tour in Newcastle in January and are part of the Basketball NSW State Performance Program.
“Basketball NSW has had a lot of development camps, tours and things we can go to to become better players and help us develop,” Baxter said.
“It takes a lot of hard work, commitment and lots of training.”
The 15-year-old point guard said the weekend’s carnival was a snapshot of what to expect on the rep scene this season.
“It’s a little carnival before the season (starts) where we get an idea of what our team will be like and to do it in our home town is nice,” she said.
The Port Macquarie teenager has been playing the sport for the last five years, when she “started because one of my friends was playing.”
“The girls become more competitive every year because everyone’s getting better,” she said.
Rudder will join Baxter in the under-17 women’s Port Macquarie team and admitted they would have to be smarter, particularly around the basket.
“We don’t have a lot of height anymore so we need to get the rebounds,” she said.
The teenage shooting guard was focused on gradual improvement at the defensive end of the court throughout the season.
“I’d like to have better defence and pressure the ball and different things like that,” she said.
“You have to make sure you train as hard as you’re going to play.”
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