Oakhurst basketballer Ella Tofaeono has capped of a winning season by cleaning up at the Basketball NSW awards earlier this week.
The 190cm, 18-year-old claimed the Best Defensive Player and won selection to the All-Star Five, as well as taking out the Karen Dalton Junior Metro Player of the Year award.
Tofaeono only found out she was invited to the awards the Tuesday before.
“I wasn’t expecting anything at all,” she said.
“It got announced and it was really overwhelming and Karen Dalton herself handed the award to me.
“It’s probably one of the biggest things I’ve ever won in my basketball career.”
Having worked with Dalton as part of the Sydney Flames Academy squad, Tofaeono said it was special to receive the award from one of her “beloved coaches”.
It capped off a huge season after her Penrith Panthers took out the the 2016 Waratah Youth League premiership following a 66-61 win over the Manly Warringah Sea Eagles.
Scoring the second most points in the competition (366) and first in two pointers (121), Tofaeono was a huge part of the season.
“To win it with a bunch of girls that are genuinely good people, it’s really nice,” she said.
“Overall, this season gave me motivation and inspired me that I can do all this.
“I can use what I’ve done this season to motivate me to do bigger and better things.”
Asked about her future, the young star said her biggest goal is to get back to optimum fitness, having come back from a serious knee injury the year before.
“If you know me really well, I can barely choose which basketball shoes I wear before a game,” she joked.
“I think right now I’m just focusing on under 20’s. It’s my last year in the white and blue so hopefully bring back a medal from Bendigo.”
"I haven’t really set direct goals because I don’t want to set myself up for heartache or failure so I don’t really like to set certain goals.”
However, her main focus is the HSC with the year 12 student just weeks away from completing her secondary education.
Having split her final year at St John Paul II Catholic College with the HSC pathways program, Tofaeono said it has helped with time management as training taking up plenty of her time.
“I’m pretty thankful for all the school has done for me and being patient with me because I can be pretty full on sometimes,” she said.