The Stawell Wildcats' under-16 boys squad made history at the Portland Tournament on Saturday, February 3 and Sunday, February 4.
It was the first time in several years that the Wildcats have had representation at a junior tournament.
"It was really good just to see the boys from the domestic comp go up another level, challenge themselves, and get the opportunity to compete against other kids," Wildcats' under-16 coach Adrian Lockwood said.
After a bye in their first match, the Wildcats had a tight 35-37 loss to Mount Gambier Blue, Arlo Hastings top-scored with 12 points.
Stawell got its first win in round three with a 38-33 victory over the Border Sports Academy, where Jack Cameron tipped in 12.
"You would have thought he played in tournaments before," Lockwood said of Cameron.
"He just found open space and got some really easy buckets that helped us stay competitive within games."
The Wildcats lost by one point to Warracknabeal (32-33) in round four, with Jules Lockwood scoring the top-scoring 16 points.
Before Stawell rounded out their tournament with an 18-47 loss to the Ballarat District United Lightning.
Archie Hoffmann was the pick of the scorers with eight points.
Despite a 1-3 record, Lockwood was thrilled with how his squad performed against more experienced teams.
"They've only had probably four hours training all up as a squad.
"If you take into consideration other squads, they have been together for at least a season or even longer," Lockwood said.
"For them to go out there and be at that level and compete was really amazing.
"They got a win on the board too, which is really good.
"And they had a couple of really close losses," Lockwood said.
Despite being impressed with the squad overall, a couple of individual performances caught Lockwood's eye.
"I was thrilled with the maturity of Charlie Dunn.
"He's a first-class player, and he's just got amazing leadership on the court and an understanding of running plays and directing teammates around," he said.
Despite only being new to the domestic competition, Blair Sheen was another player who performed consistently.
"For him to step up on this stage and really compete at that level that he did. He had a lot of success out there too," Lockwood said.
The beginning of the Portland tournament was the start of a busy period for the Wildcats.
The under-12 and 14 boys travel to Portland on Saturday, February 10 and Sunday, February 11.
All three teams will play in the Maryborough tournament on Saturday, February 17 and Sunday, February 18, before rounding out the month at the Colac Classic.
"We're going to be playing in different places, but we'll be able to support each other throughout," Lockwood said.
"It's going to be really interesting, and I can't wait to see how all the kids go."