THE 2021 NBL1 season has kicked off proceedings for 2021 in the Central Division and it was full of exciting action all over the competition. There were nail-biters, blowouts, and plenty of outstanding individual performances. Plenty of teams found a lot to take away from this weekend’s basketball activity across both the women’s and men’s leagues.
South Adelaide Panthers (87) def. North Adelaide Rockets (66)
The South Adelaide Panthers kicked off their season in style with a comfortable 21-point win over crosstown opponents North Adelaide Rockets, thanks to a strong last quarter. The first half belonged to the Rockets, as they took a six-point lead into the half time break. The Panthers had work to do if they were going to get back into this game, and they did exactly that. An initial nine-point difference in the third quarter saw the Panthers take a slim three-point lead into the final break, before the game was blown open in the last. A 27-9 final term sealed the deal as South Adelaide ended up cruising to a comfortable win after a strong turnaround.
For the Panthers, the duo of Olivia Thompson and Ashley Spencer proved too strong for North Adelaide with both finishing above 30 points for the game. Thompson was outstanding, finishing with 31 points, 16 rebounds (seven offensive) and six assists in a dominant performance. Spencer was just ahead with 33 points and six rebounds on 69 per cent field goal (FG). The duo were a major reason for the Panthers fightback and could not have started the season any better. For the Rockets, Taylor Ortlepp worked all game to maintain her side’s lead, finishing with 19 points and five rebounds, while Sam Defrancesco’s 13 points also impressed.
Forestville Eagles (70) def. Eastern Mavericks (46)
The Eagles will be pleased with their start to this season following Saturday’s 24-point win, while the Mavericks have plenty to improve on in order to compete with the best. Winning every quarter, Forestville never gave their opponents an easy look, staying disciplined and finishing the job right up to the final buzzer. Following a slow first quarter, where there were a combined 16 points scored, the Eagles took an eight-point lead into half time, before a one sided third quarter all but sealed the result. The 13-point differential in the third quarter saw Forestville fire on all cylinders and cruise to a comfortable victory.
Samantha Simons was the strongest performer for the victors, ending the game with 18 points, 13 rebounds, five assists and four steals in an exceptional game on both ends of the court. She was well aided by teammates Cara Annetts (12 points and seven rebounds) and Brooke Basham (10 points and nine rebounds). For the Panthers, there was only one double digit scorer in Mollie McKendrick who fought her way to 11 points and nine rebounds despite minimal help.
Southern Tigers (61) def. Sturt Sabres (53)
An efficient shooting performance from the Southern Tigers saw them take down the Sturt Sabres by eight points on Saturday night. The Tigers shot 50 per cent from the field and 58 per cent from three-point territory, making it awfully hard for the Sabres to keep up. The first quarter opened the game with scoring galore, with the sides combining for 37 points. This would not last but the Tigers kept their ascendancy over their opponents for the remaining three quarters. It was extremely unlikely that the Sabres would be able to match the fantastic shooting of their opponents, but they still put up a strong fight to reduce the margin in the final term.
The victors were led strongly by Jemma Thacker as she poured on 16 points and five rebounds at 71 per cent shooting. Her efficiency was reflective of the rest of her side as they moved the ball to give themselves the best possible look at a good shot. Teammate Morgan Yaeger’s 12 points and four assists also impressed. For the Sabres, Nicola Matthews fought all night to drag her team back into the game. She finished the match with 18 points (67 per cent FG), five rebounds and a notable five steals in a performance that stood out despite a disappointing night for her side.
West Adelaide Bearcats (96) def. Central Districts Lions (32)
The Bearcats sent a message to the rest of the competition with their 64-point thrashing of a disappointing Lions side. The writing was on the wall after a 30-2 first term with West Adelaide starting the game on an 18-0 run as Central Districts could not buy a basket. While it never got as one sided for the remaining three quarters, the result was never in doubt as the Bearcats continued to increase the margin to take the biggest win of the round.
Bearcats Sky Langenbrick and Jennie Rintala set the tone for their side, finishing with 25 and 23 points respectively on extremely efficient shooting. There were contributors all over the court for this side, demonstrated by their 96 points coming with only two double-digit scorers. There were not many impressive performers for the Lions in this convincing loss, with April Rummery Lumb the leading performer with 10 points and eight rebounds.
Woodville Warriors (75) def by. Norwood Flames (79)
In the closest game for the round, the Flames escaped with a four-point victory over the Warriors, credit to a strong last quarter. The lead went back and forth all game in extremely entertaining basketball action. The game was all square after the first term, with the Warriors taking slim leads into the third and fourth quarters. The Flames would gain the lead midway through the last term, but their opponents did not give up, and the game was not decided until the final 10 seconds were counting down. The seesawing affair could have gone either way, and Norwood will be thrilled to walk away with the win.
Norwood’s win was inspired by the marvellous performance of Genna Anderson who dropped 26 points, 11 rebounds (seven offensive boards), two steals and two blocks. Anderson also finished the game with her side’s final field goal to put them in a winning position. Paige Kennihan (17 points) and Georgie Garrard (13 points and 11 rebounds) were also impressive for the victors. Woodville’s Emily Winter delivered arguably the strongest individual performance of the game, with 28 points and 13 rebounds as she did all she could to drag her side over the line. She received handy assistance from teammate Chloe Purvis who poured in 17 points of her own.
Forestville Eagles (104) def. Eastern Mavericks (77)
The NBL1 Men’s competition kicked off with a clinical performance from the Eagles as they took down the Mavericks by 27 points on Saturday night. A nine-point lead at the end of the first quarter would prove to be the writing on the wall as Forestville went on to win all quarters and never let their opponents get even a sliver of a comeback. With strong performers all over the court, the Eagles began their 2021 campaign in style and will be looking to carry the momentum into next week’s match, while the Mavericks would have found plenty to improve on.
The standout performer was clearly Forestville’s Michael Harris who stuffed the stat sheet with 37 points, nine rebounds and seven assists in a staggering showing. Harris also connected on seven three pointers showcasing his ability to score from nearly anywhere. Fellow Eagles Gregory Mays (27 points and 13 rebounds) and Brandon Brine (19 points and nine rebounds) also contributed strongly. The Mavericks might not have performed to their desired standard, but Nathaniel Koko tried all night, and can be proud with how he played, ending the game with 23 points.
South Adelaide Panthers (92) def. North Adelaide Rockets (71)
In a battle of cross-town rivals, South Adelaide showed their class across the board, taking down North Adelaide by 21 points. Despite the convincing margin, both sides won two quarters each, but the first and third quarters from the Panthers proved too much for the Rockets. South Adelaide scored 64 in these quarters, while North Adelaide could only manage 31 as they were overcome by a side who could not seem to miss.
For the Panthers, Alex Starling was easily the side’s strongest performer, dropping an impressive triple double in the win. Starling ended with 20 points, 13 points and 10 assists, with his eight steals putting him only two shy of an amazing quadruple double. It was a masterful performance that was reflective of his side on the night. Fellow Panthers Todd Davies (21 points), Adam Brown (17 points) and Codey Ellison (15 points and nine rebounds) were also strong. Despite not getting the win, Rocket Verle Williams topscored with his 33 points.
Southern Tigers (62) def by. Sturt Sabres (70)
A strong team performance has led the Sturt Sabres to an eight-point win over the Southern Tigers in Saturday night’s matchup. The Tigers jumped to an early six-point lead after the first quarter, but the Sabres were able to weather the storm and win the remaining three quarters. The Tigers were still able to keep themselves right in the game but could not muster a strong enough comeback in the last, with the Sabres doing enough to remain in the lead.
The Sabres win came from a terrific all-around performance, with no Sturt player topping Sam Daly’s 13 points, as three other teammates hit double digits. Joel Spear (12 points and 11 rebounds), Nik Fassos (11 points) and Keanu Rasmussen (11 points) were all key for their side’s win. For the Tigers, Cameron Coleman battled hard with his 24 points to try and conjure a win.
West Adelaide Bearcats (76) def by. Central Districts Lions (83)
In the closest game of the round, the Lions survived a last quarter Bearcats comeback to run out the game seven-point winners. Trailing by 14 points late in the third term, the Bearcats dragged themselves to within three points late in the final quarter, but Lual Diing was ice cold in the final two minutes, sinking clutch free throws to seal the result and break the hearts of his opponents.
Diing was his side’s strongest performer, finishing with a huge 27-point and 15-rebound game and was instrumental in leading his side to the narrow victory. His teammates Kelani Sapwell (13 points) and Makok Manyang (11 points and nine rebounds) also caught the eye with their ability to create a shot. Despite the tough loss, Bryan Michaels scored a game high 28 points and continued to create havoc for defenders despite the deficit. Earnest Ross also battled his way to 21 points and five rebounds.
Woodville Warriors (75) def by. Norwood Flames (90)
In an outing closer than the score suggests, the Woodville Warriors could not keep up with the firepower of their Norwood Flames opponents, eventually falling by 15 points. A tight first half saw Norwood lead by the smallest of margins, as Woodville found themselves within one point at the main break. The Flames began to find their rhythm in the third, taking a seven-point lead into the final quarter. A 22-14 last term sealed the win for Norwood, as Woodville continued to struggle to contain the scoring of their opponents.
Norwood were well served by CJ Turnage and his 36-point performance. This led all comers for the game as he continued to find space to put up shots from both around the paint and behind the three point line. Teammate Moses Nuangki finished with 16 points in a solid start to the season. For the Warriors, James Boonstoppel (22 points) and Julian Jacobs (19 points, eight rebounds and seven assists) tried hard all game to get their team’s scoring going while Joe Jackson pulled down 20 rebounds.