Forget the Lakers legend, Gympie has its own Kobe
BASKETBALL: He shares a first name with the legendary Los Angeles Laker, and the “Mamba mentality” is certainly there whenever 14-year-old Gympie basketball star Kobe Lodder steps on the court.
The Gympie State High School student was in superb form in the Gympie Basketball Association’s grand final action on Saturday, when he led his Raptors to a 86-68 high school junior grand final triumph over the Thunder.
A combo guard equally capable of running the point and using his shooting range to drain three pointers, Lodder’s ability to play multiple roles proved instrumental in the Raptors’ success both on grand final day and throughout the season.
The league’s leading point scorer with 280 – or 18.67 per game – got some just rewards for his consistency, collecting MVP honours for the season and the big dance.
“It’s been a good season, our team has been really good with three-point shooting,” Lodder said.
“In the final we just tried to keep that going.”
Not to be satisfied with his dominance in one age group, Lodder also embraced the challenge of hooping in the high school senior competition too.
He switched from Raptor Red to Cavalier Maroon for his second grand final of the day, but could only watch as his coach and Thunder point guard Alex Nethercott dominated in a 76-39 win for his team.
“The challenge of playing seniors is good. In juniors there’s a lot more back and forth, a lot more turnovers, but in seniors it’s a lot more spread out and set up,” Lodder said.
Nethercott, leaning on his strengths driving inside and finishing contested lay-ups on top of a strong passing game, also did the double in scoring MVP honours for the season and the decider.
“The season’s been good, I’ve been focusing on making the team pass around a lot more,” Nethercott said.
“Today in the grand final I held it a bit more and tried to get some points up, and later on went back to getting the team involved, and getting everyone some points.”
The 16-year-old James Nash State High School student had plenty of compliments for Lodder, as both a coach and an opposition player.
“Kobe’s an awesome player. He’s not afraid to shoot and drive, he’s good at both of those, and good defence as well, he doesn’t really stop even when we’re down,” he said.
“We’re both strong with the ball, Kobe likes to drive too. When it’s the right time for him. I need to get better at my three point shot, which I’ll be practising on the holidays.
“The knowledge is the difference, mostly. In seniors everyone knows how to protect the ball a lot more. Defence is a step up for sure.”
Both young men had immediate plans to work on their games in the off-season, and keep an eye on their role models in the NBA.
“I love watching D’Angelo Russell. He’s an awesome player. I love his game. Kyrie Irving too, I love watching his handles,” Nethercott said.
“I like watching point guards, the position I play, I like to watch their game.”
Lodder and Nethercott have scored a joint nod as the latest The Gympie Times Player of the Week.