History of the Senior Championship Program

The CVIBL,VBL and Big V History

History of the League

In 1987 a competition called the Country Victorian Invitation Basketball League (CVIBL) was introduced for Women’s teams from Country Victorian Associations. The CVIBL was the brain child of Bruce McDonald from Swan Hill, one of our truly creative administrators. For many years the League was conducted in an outstanding manner under the direction of Isobel and Frank Smith (also from Swan Hill).

In 1989 a Men’s Division of CVIBL was introduced and again was conducted professionally by a number of different administrators. Fourteen clubs were foundation members, and to minimize travel and administration costs, they were divided into two conferences. Terrill and Watson named after two men who made considerable contributions to basketball in the country regions. 

As a result, the CVIBL soon grew to include many Metropolitan teams and became one of the true success stories of Australian Competition Basketball.

In 1991 control of the CVIBL was shifted from the BV Country Council and run by a separate body. The CVIBL later became known as the Victorian Basketball League Inc – VBL

In 2000, the Australian Basketball Association (ABA) decided to introduce a Victorian conference and invited the VBL to join. The new elite competition was named the Big V and became the ABA’s fifth conference, joining the South, East, North and Central conferences. The ABA ceased operations following the 2008 season, resulting in the Big V becoming an Independent League.

The Big V is the Senior Basketball League in Victoria, Australia comprising 102 semi-professional teams in 10 competitions.These competitions comprise of both genders, and incorporate four levels of Senior Competition (Men), three levels for Women and Youth Leagues. As a member of the Australian Basketball Association (ABA), the winner of the Big V Championship League gains automatic entry for the Australian Basketball Club Championships against the winners of the other ABA conferences.

In 2017 VBL Inc (Big V) ceased as an independent body and became part of Basketball Victoria under the guidance of the  Senior Representative Commission. The Big V League continues to run under this Commission.

Whittlesea Pacers currently have 3 teams entered into the Big V Competition. Two Men’s teams, Division 2 Men and Youth League 2 Men and One Women’s Championship Team. 

Whittlesea have been very fortunate over the years to have many players that have played over 100 Big V Whittlesea Games. These are listed below. Some of these players are still playing now and some have retired from basketball. We also had many players who had played 90+ Games for Whittlesea. Congrats to all of these players especially the ones below.  


Player Name No of Whittlesea Games
Caitlyn McLeod 110
Blake Cuthbert 100
Jade Wise 104
Giulia Di Nunzio 166
Eliza Stylianou 103
Matthew Falckh 181
Jake Dunstan 130
Chris Petroro 144
Lauren Felle 106
Pande Jovanovski 155
Matthew Dirkx 148
Anthony Mosca 132
Brendan Hughes 181
James Henderson 112
Melissa Rofe 121
Damien O’Keefe 132
Martin Moran 103

Whittlesea is also one of the few Associations to have players that were so dedicated that they have played over 200 Big V Whittlesea games. All of these players below have now retired from Big V Basketball. A huge Congratulations to these players. 

Below there is some old photos and information on the first teams entered into the Senior Competition.

Player Name No of Whittlesea Games 
Sharyn Hughes 220
Steven Dahlstrom  210
Jason Dirkx 219
Matthew Giampiccolo 212



Whittlesea Pacers 1st Women’s Team

Our Women’s team entered the CVIBL in 1995 and was coached by Rino Zancan. It was a tough introduction into the Country Victorian Invitational Basketball League.

After a Bye in the opening round, the Pacers played Kilsyth Cobras. Kilsyth coming off a win against Castlemaine was never going to be easy to beat. The Cobras were taller and much more experienced.

Mill Park went into the game without center Rachael Clarke and within 5 minutes lost experienced forward/guard Sue Phelan with a knee injury.

This paved the way for 16 year old guards Kylie Guarino and Emma Brown to take the court. They introduced pace and energy into the Pacers side which enabled them to outscore Kilsyth in the first quarter.

The games continued at an even pace and by the main break Kilsyth led by 1 point, 24-23.

Kilsyth dominated the third quarter scoring 24 points to 8. Mill Park had shared the scoring in the first half but it was left to Guarino and Kellie Coulson to make an impact in the third term. Although considerably shorter than her opponents Coulson (178cm) dominated the boards.

Mill Park picked up the tempo in the final quarter but with three minutes remaining all but three players were fouled out. Kilsyth went on to  record a 71 – 45 victory. ( Details – K.Guarino 12 points, K. Mutz 8 points). Mill Park Best – K. Coulson, K. Guarino, E. Brown, R. Zancan.  Next game 7th May 1995 Mill Park Pacers v Warragul Lady Warriors.  



Whittlesea Pacers 1st Men’s Team

The 1st Men’s team was entered in 1997. They were in Division 1 of the Victorian Basketball League Competition.  In their first year they won the grand final. They played a three game finals series against Eltham. The finals was won in two games straight.

Game One: Whittlesea Pacers 106 defeated Eltham Wildcats 103

Game Two: Whittlesea Pacers 106 defeated Eltham Wildcats 91

In the finals Sean McCall dominated and ended up  winning the Finals Series MVP. In the second game Chris Smith was a stand out player.To get to the Grand Finals Whittlesea Pacers defeated Echuca Pirates 168 – 123 in game one and 132 – 89 in Game Two.

Two of our players won VBL Awards:

1997 All Star Five – Center Mark McCathrion and

1997 Award Winner – Rookie of the Year – Chris Smith

The team played 20 games for the season, won 18 and lost 2 and finished top of the ladder.

Six players from the list below were from our under 20 boy’s VJBL team. They were Brad Phelan, Chris Smith, Luke Kelly, Jacob Numa, Adam Lenartowicz and Simon Davis.

Two Players played Premier League – Matt Ferris and Brad Phelan.

Stuart Davies was recruited from Keilor and after all these years is now back in 2020, coaching a Junior team for VJBL.

Stewart Connelly was recruited from Melbourne Tigers, Mark McCathrion was recruited from Knox  and Sean McCall was the Import.

Two of these players went on to play more than 100 VBL Games and another played with Whittlesea from Under 18 through to retirement.

The team was:




Flags, Coaches  and Photos of Teams that have played in the Finals over the Years

  1997 VBL Division 1 Men – Champions

 Coach – Jeff Van Groningen

2005 Division 1 Women – Runners Up

Coach – Kevin Pollock

2009 Division 2 Women – Champions

Coach – Troy Armitage

2011 State Youth League 2 Men – Champions

Coach – Des Radosolvic

2013 Division 1 Men – Champions

Coach – Ross Moll

2015 Division 1 Women – Champions

Coach – Shannon Bodley

2015 Youth League 1 Men – Champions

Coach – Paul Hughes

2016 Youth League 1 Men – Runners Up

Coach – Paul Hughes


Warm Up Intro

By Jon from The Strength and Rehab HQ


By Zoya from The Strength and Rehab HQ

Warm Up - Dynamic Mobility Drills

By Jon and Kieron from The Strength and Rehab HQ

Pacers Players Working Out

At The Strength and Rehab HQ

Strengthening Exercises with Pacers Players

At The Strength and Rehab HQ