THE McDonald’s under-16 Armidale Lions narrowly defeated Tamworth 55-54 in the Waratah Northern Junior League division one grand final in Grafton yesterday.
The Lions trailed until well into the first half time but they fought gallantly to get on top of their southern rivals before going into the last quarter in front 49-43.
This is the under-16 Armidale side’s first year in division one competition and Lions coach Bill Turner said the win was an incredible feat.
“This side is the first Armidale team to win the division one competition and the entire team played superbly to win the grand final,” he said.
For the last two years the Lions have played within the division two competition and were premiers in 2010.
The side was unable to defend their title last year but, despite stepping up a grade, they dominated games throughout the season.
Lions player Makuach Maluach was awarded the Northern Junior League’s player of the year and Turner said Maluach is an outstanding player.
“Maluach award is well-deserved and he is a really dominant player and deserves to be recognised,” said Turner.
The Lions’ victory secured their place to compete at the NSW state cup in Menai.
The top eight metro and regional teams will battle it out over the weekend of August 17-19.