Author: Peter Williams

QSL Women’s Grand Final: Logan Thunder completes perfect season

MIKAELA Ruef and the Logan Thunder have completed an unbeaten season by triumphing in the Queensland State League (QSL) Women’s competition, defeating Southern Districts Spartans in the grand final by 24 points (85-61). In what was a memorable performance from both Ruef and her opposing star Kalani Purcell who both racked up ridiculous numbers, it was always looking like going the way of the Thunder.

Heading into the game Logan won all 12 of its matches, whilst Southern Districts was not far behind winning all bar its clash with the Thunder earlier in the season, making it a worthy grand final adversary. Coming off a 62-point shellacking of Ipswich Force, the Thunder were heavy favourites in the game, but as the Spartans showed early, they were up for the fight. Both teams were level at 19 points apiece at quarter time and it was looking like being a beauty.

By half-time though, the Thunder did what they have done all season and created some separation on the scoreboard, pouring on 33 points to 17 to hold a 52-36 advantage. By that stage, Ruef had already picked up a double-double thanks to 13 points and 11 rebounds and was the clear difference in the match. The third term was even, with the Thunder slightly increasing their lead out to 18 (68-50), but time was quickly running out. In the end, a lower scoring final term of 17-11 completed what was not only a memorable game, but a memorable season for the Thunder in the 85-61 triumph.

The Thunder’s accuracy was key in the win, dropping 10 of 25 triples at 40 per cent accuracy, whilst also managing a 44.7 efficiency from inside the arc. By comparison, the Spartans only hit 27.8 and 31.6 per cent of their shots from those ranges, though had marginally more success at the charity stripe (76.9 to 68.4 per cent). Statistically the match was fairly even with both sides recording 40 rebounds, and Spartans actually ahead in the assists (22-20). The Thunder led the other stats marginally, such as the blocks (4-3), steals (7-3) and second chance points (11-10), but it was just converting their chances that ultimately helped them grab the win.

Ruef knocked down 27 points and a ridiculous 25 rebounds – 21 defensive – as well as five assists, three steals and two blocks playing nearly every minute in a huge match. She led the way for her side, whilst Mikhaela Cann was the dominant playmaker, picking up eight assists to go with her 13 points, two rebounds and one steal, though her accuracy of 28.6 per cent from the field meant she could have had even more points by the final buzzer..

Cassie Carroll had no problems with accuracy, knocking down six triples from eight attempts on her way to an 18-point game in 29 minutes, also recording two rebounds, two assists and one block for her troubles. Ashley Taia had 11 points and the second most rebounds on her side with six, as well as three assists and one steal. Meanwhile the other key player was Chevannah Paalvast who ran into a little foul trouble with five fouls, but still managed the 10 points, two steals, one rebound, one assist and one block in the win.

Purcell was the clear star for the Spartans, picking up team-highs in the three major stats. Boasting a triple-double in a losing side there was not much more the Melbourne Boomers talent could have done, finishing with 22 points – including four triples from five attempts – 17 rebounds and 10 assists. Madelyn Willey also performed strongly with 16 points, three rebounds, six assists, two steals and a block, though would have liked to have been more accurate with just six of 21 from the field at 28.6 per cent accuracy.

The other double-figure scorer was Holly Smith who managed 10 points and a rebound, while Natalie Taylor (four points, six rebounds) and Rebecca Haynes (six points, four rebounds, two assists and one block) played roles in the defeat. In the end though the weight of numbers was too great and the depth of the Thunder capped off what was a marvellous year for Logan.

Picture: Stephen Schulz Photography

QSL Women’s Grand Final preview: Logan Thunder vs. Southern Districts Spartans

WITH 23 of a possible 24 wins between them, it is fair to say the top two sides in the Queensland State League (QSL) Women’s competition have reached tonight’s grand final. The minor premiers Logan Thunder have gone undefeated this season, winning all 12 games, including a 62-point shellacking of Ipswich Force last night to show there were no cobwebs from a week off in the first weekend of finals. Meanwhile the Southern District Spartans have won 11 of 12 games, with the only blemish coming against the Thunder who they hope to topple in the biggest game of the season.

The Spartans were the highest scoring team of the 2020 season with 93.7 points, but only a total of three more than the Thunder, who were the standout defensive team with a measly 50.9 points conceded per game. The Spartans were ranked second themselves in that area, allowing just 62.2 points per game to their opposition. It means the huge clash – which eventuated after the Spartans defeated Gold Coast Rollers in their semi-final last night – is set to be a massive one with both teams having belief they can win.

Despite their propensity to score, their clash way back on August 22 was actually a low-scoring contest with the Thunder getting up 76-61. It showed off the defensive attributes of both sides and the ability to lock down on perimeter defence. The Spartans still shot 12 of 33 from long-range compared to the Thunder’s seven of 25, but it was the home side’s accuracy from inside the arc – 23 from 51 compared to 12 from 41 – that was the difference. They also dominated the rebounds (57-39) which led to a one-sided second chance points total (17-8), and the Thunder also won the steals (10-6). The Spartans held up their own with equal blocks (3-3), more assists (18-15) and only two more turnovers (12-10), but could only get to the charity stripe for two free-throws of which they nailed one.

Mikayla Ruef had a typical performance for her, but a remarkable outing for everyone else, notching up 20 points and a casual 24 rebounds – 10 offensive – as well as an assist, five steals and a block in the win. She was well supported by Mikhaela Cann who picked up a double-double in her own right, recording 26 points, 10 rebounds, four assists, three steals and a block. Chevannah Paalvast (seven points, nine rebounds and three assists) and Ashley Taia (nine points, six rebounds, two assists and one steal) were the other prominent players on the night.

For the Spartans, it was a two-person show as Madelyn Willey and Natalie Taylor both produced impressive efforts. Willey notched up 19 points, four rebounds, five assists and three steals in a strong all-round effort, whilst Taylor was the more accurate of the two with five of nine from long range on her way to 19 points, seven rebounds and two assists. Rebecca Haynes came close to a triple-double despite not reaching any double-digit figure in the match, picking up nine points, nine rebounds – four offensive – and seven assists, as well as two blocks in the loss.

Heading into tonight’s contest, Ruef is averaging a remarkable 22.55 points, 18.18 rebounds and 3.18 assists, though despite not being a huge playmaker on the offensive end, still picked up double-digit dimes last night on her way to a huge triple-double against the Force. Danielle Baynes has become a reliable source of scoring herself, averaging 13.91 points and 3.45 rebounds, while Paalvast (12.08 points, 5.5 rebounds and 3.17 assists) and Cann (11.67 points, 5.67 rebounds and 7.75 assists) are ever present on the court. Taia has been the fifth highest scorer for the Thunder this season but still averages 11.5 points and 4.7 rebounds per game, while Cassie Carroll and Alana Fraser have played every match and contributed more than five points per game.

The Spartans have had a lot of players rotating through the line-up this season, but the likes of Willey and Taylor have been constants playing all 12 games. Willey is the leading points-scorer with 20.58 per match, as well as identical 5.08 rebounds and assists. Taylor has picked up 16.83 points, 6.33 rebounds and 3.83 assists, while Kalani Purcell has been a welcome inclusion in 10 matches, dominating off the boards with 9.7 per game to accompany her 16.7 points and 5.3 rebounds. Haynes is another who has played every game, averaging 11.83 points, 9.0 rebounds and 4.92 assists, while Holly Smith has featured in nine outings, picking up 12.44 points. 3.44 rebounds and 2.56 assists. Lily Preston (6.58 points, 4.67 rebounds and 2.42 assists is the other player to watch from the visiting team.

Logan Thunder are undefeated for a reason and it would take a brave person to back against them considering what they did against a semi-finals opponent last night. Southern District Spartans have the talent to cause and upset and will thrive on being the underdog, but the Thunder deserve the title after such a remarkable year and have the experience to cap it off.

Picture: David Price – Strategic Productions

QSL Men’s Grand Final preview: RedCity Roar vs. Brisbane Capitals

THE two top Queensland State League (QSL) Men’s sides have made their way into the decider with the Grand Final set to take place tonight at 6.30pm. RedCity Roar host the big game at the Paul Bancroft Centre, where Brisbane Capitals will be hoping to upstage their highly fancied rivals and steal a memorable title.

The Roar finished atop the table with 10 wins from 11 games, only dropping a match to the second placed Ipswich Force who now doubt the side will be relieved to be out of contention. It was the Capitals who dumped the Force from the finals series, having only finished the head-to-head tie behind them after having more points for and less points conceded than the Force during the year.

Brisbane Capitals enter the match on a four-game winning streak, with some big totals along the way, no dipping below last night’s 97 points. In the past three games, the Capitals have cruised past triple-figures with 106, 133 and 117 in the three games prior to finals. Their last score below 97 was 83 during their loss to RedCity Roar on September 27.

In that defeat, the Roar were unstoppable from three-point range, draining a ridiculous 19 triples from 45 attempts with a 42.2 per cent efficiency, whilst making the most of the rebounds (46-36) and blocks (6-0). The Capitals still managed eight triples themselves and converted more chances from inside the arc and the charity stripe, but it would not be enough.

Two Roar players picked up double-doubles in a massive effort, as partners-in-crime, Harry Froling (27 points, 10 rebounds, two assists, two steals and one block) and William McDowell-White (16 points, 12 rebounds, four assists, two steals and three blocks) proved hard to stop. Darryl McDowell-White also had a big night out with a match-high 28 points, five rebounds, two assists and one block.

For the Capitals, Jason Cadee was electric with 27 points, seven rebounds, eight assists and four steals in an effort not too far from a triple-double. Ben Wilson (15 points, six rebounds, two assists and four steals) and Timothy Soong (13 points, seven rebounds and three assists) were the other two Capitals’ players who stood out despite the defeat.

Heading into tonight’s decider, the trio of Froling and the McDowell-White brothers will be hard to contain. Froling is arguably the top player in the competition since crossing to the state for his upcoming NBL duties with the Brisbane Bullets, averaging 29.6 points, 16.5 rebounds and 4.5 assists from 10 matches. William McDowell-White is averaging slightly more than his brother with 24.55 points, 9.82 rebounds and 5.55 assists compared to Darryl McDowell-Whit’s 21.43 points, 4.0 rebounds and 1.86 assists.

They are far from alone on the scoring end though with the likes of Verle Williams III (16.78 points, 4.0 rebounds and 4.0 assists) and Heath Gameren (9.55 points, 5.64 rebounds and 5.0 assists) both enjoying big season, while Jean-Luc Morel (8.42 points, 4.83 rebounds) showed last night that he can play an important role off the boards for his side.

The Capitals also share the load when it comes to scoring with Cadee the top scorer this season, averaging 24.92 points, 5.85 rebounds and 7.08 assists. He also ranks first in assists for players in this match, while Jarred Bairstow will be keen to put in a bigger effort than the last match against the Roar as he has averaged 20.92 points, 10.38 rebounds and 4.62 assists per game this year.

Also prominent in season 2020 has been Cameron Goldfinch (17.0 points, 6.57 rebounds and 2.0 assists), Nicholas Stoddart (13.0 points, 4.33 rebounds and 3.42 assists) and Soong (9.23 points, 5.54 rebounds and 3.31 assists) all complementing the top couple of players well. One positive for the Capitals will be that a number of players performed lower in their previous tie with the Roar and if they bring up their performance in this one they are a huge chance.

RedCity Roar deserve favouritism considering their remarkable season, but the Capitals are always a huge chance with the depth of roster they have, particularly when all are on song.

Picture: Fan Fair

QSL Women’s semi-finals: Thunder storm to massive win as Spartans hold off Rollers

LOGAN Thunder showed no mercy during a 62-point shellacking of Ipswich Force in the semi-finals of the Queensland State League (QSL) Women’s competition, running out 104-42 winners. In the other semi-final, Southern Districts Spartans claimed a tighter eight-point victory over Gold Coast Rollers to advance through to tonight’s QSL Women’s decider.

Southern Districts Spartans (77) defeated Gold Coast Rollers (69)

Second placed Southern Districts Spartans made the most of a week off during the finals to book their spot in the QSL Women’s decider thanks to an eight-point triumph over Gold Coast Rollers. Despite the Rollers being deadly from range – sinking 10 of 26 at 38.5 per cent accuracy – they only managed a lowly 14 of 47 from two-point range – a much lower 29.8 per cent. The Spartans were contrasting with a low five of 23 from long-range – 21.7 per cent – compared to a higher efficiency of 48.2 per cent thanks to 27 of 56 from two-point range.

Outside of shooting, it was the Spartans who controlled the boards and assists, which was the difference in the end. The home team racked up 58 rebounds to the Rollers’ 33, and it was a similar story with the playmaking, more than doubling the assist totals with 21 to 10. The Rollers did have three more steals (12-9) and eight less turnovers (13-21) to keep them in the game, but it was the Spartans’ second chance points (11-4) that helped them recover from some missed opportunities.

Madelyn Willey was the top scorer for the winners in a shared effort, picking up 20 points, seven rebounds, three assists and one block. She was far from alone however as two of her teammates collected double doubles. Rebecca Haynes (13 points, 12 rebounds, one assist and one steal) and Kalani Purcell (13 points, 13 rebounds, two assists and four steals) both took control of the contest, though Haynes was much cleaner with only two turnovers to Purcell’s 11. Nonetheless they both had big nights out.

Also enjoying the win and some handy contributions were other Spartans in Holly Smith and Emily Preston. Smith notched up 12 points, seven rebounds, four assists and one steal in just 20 minutes on the court, while Preston had 11 points, five rebounds and one assist. The key playmaker on the Spartans’ side was Natalie Taylor, whom whilst she would have preferred to have shot better from the field – just two of 13 and zero of five from two-point range – she had eight assists, five rebounds and two steals.

For the Rollers, it was mostly a two-pronged effort from a couple of deadly shooters. Carleigh Patrick and Siarn Woods combined for 44 points in the defeat, doing all they could as the only two shooters on their side to record more than 40 per cent accuracy. Patrick was the top player with a game-high 23 points and equal game-high 13 rebounds, as well as a steal. Woods had 21 points, three rebounds, four assists and for steals.

The other Rollers player to hit double-figure points was Lilly Rotunno (10 points, two rebounds, one assist and three steals), while Sarah Ambrose picked up a handy seven points, seven rebounds, three assists two steals and did not have a turnover. Unfortunately there was not quite as much contribution across the board, though Kisha Lee had plenty of chances in her 15 minutes on court with five points and four rebounds, though only shot 2/10 from the field for a 20 per cent efficiency.

Logan Thunder (104) defeated Ipswich Force (42)

Unlike the other semi-final, there was no denying the winner in this one, as Logan Thunder dominated every single facet of the game on their way to a remarkable 62-point thrashing of Ipswich Force. The Thunder shot at a deadly 44.8 per cent from long-range, 50 per cent from two-point range and 81 per cent from the charity stripe as they notched up triple-figures. By comparison, the Force could only put together 12 of 64 as they had 14.3 and 20 per cent efficiency from the field.

The Force might have only had four more turnovers (14-10), but were outclassed across the board as the Thunder racked up 57 rebounds to 35, and 27 assists to right. They also won the blocks (7-1), steals (6-4) and were the only side to pick up second chance points (21-0) on their way to an impressive victory.

Five Thunder players amassed double-figure points, led by Mikayla Ruef‘s remarkable triple-double. She racked up 21 points, 18 rebounds – 14 defensive – 10 assists, one steal and one block without a turnover on the night. She was the clear best-on, while Chevannah Paalvast had 19 points, six rebounds and two assists in another big point-scoring effort for the win.

Danielle Baynes (16 points, four rebounds, one assist and two steals), Cassie Carroll (11 points, two assists and two blocks) and Ashley Taia (10 points, four rebounds, six assists, one steal and one block) also hit double-figure points. Meanwhile Mikhaela Cann was solid across the board with eight points, four rebounds, six assists, one steal and one block, as all 12 Thunder players took to the court for at least eight minutes of playing time in the semi-final win.

For the Force, just two players hit double-figure points and both were at 10, with Iris Cubit the top performer thanks to 10 points, seven rebounds and a block, while Rachel Mate had 10 points and two assists. Consistent performer Amy Lewis tried hard and picked up six rebounds and an assist on the night, but only managed six points in an inaccurate shooting performance of two from 14 from the field.

Catherine Macgregor also had the six points, sinking two of three triples on her way to the total as well as eight rebounds and one assist, while Georgia Ralph picked up six points of which four were free-throws. Grace Hughes did not get one of her five field goal attempts to land, but did record five rebounds – four off the offensive boards – in 10 minutes of court time. All in all it was a commanding win to the Thunder who are the clear title favourites in tonight’s grand final.

Picture: Stephen Schulz Photography

QSL Men’s semi-finals: Roar win in thriller as Capitals topple Force

TWO electric Queensland State League (QSL) Men’s semi-finals took place overnight with the top of the table RedCity Roar escaping with a two-point victory over Sunshine Coast Phoenix Teal and Brisbane Capitals winning on the road against Ipswich Force. All roads now lead to 6.30pm tonight at the Paul Bancroft Centre when the teams face off to decide the title.

RedCity Roar (95) defeated Sunshine Coast Phoenix Teal (93)

The minor premiers survived an almighty scare against a gallant fifth placed Sunshine Coast Phoenix Teal to earn a well-deserved grand final spot with a two-point victory. The Roar only marginally got up and guaranteed themselves a home grand final tonight. Both the Roar and Phoenix Teal dropped 12 triples on the night, with Phoenix Teal actually hitting more chances from the field with 38 from 76, whilst the Roar went 35 from 88. The inaccuracy might have threatened to derail the top team’s hopes, but with all the big men getting to the line, the Roar converted 13 of 18 from the charity stripe compared to five from nine of the visitors.

Across the board it was a tight affair with the Phoenix Teal mostly ahead signalling just how much they were in the contest. They led the rebounds (45-37), assists (23-18) and blocks (5-3), whilst the Roar won the steals (10-6) and most notably second chance points (19-9). The latter has been a big reason why they were so dominant, as well as their starting five’s ability to dominate on the court.

All eyes were on NBL star Harry Froling who did not let the home fans down with a ridiculous effort off the boards. He racked up 16 rebounds – seven offensive to lead the court at both ends – whilst also finishing with 22 points, four assists and one steal. It was however the effort of William McDowell-White that stole the show with a blistering 43 points, eight rebounds, four assists and four steals in a best-on performance to drag his team over the line. He sank nine of 18 triples and shot at 70 per cent from inside the arc on a night where he played every minute of the match with Froling.

Also getting amongst it was Darryl McDowell-White (12 points, five rebounds, three assists and two steals), whilst Heath Gameren (two points, three rebounds, four assists and one steal) and Jean-Luc Morel (nine points, three rebounds, three assists, one steal and one block) played supporting roles in the win.

For the Phoenix Teal, it was star shooter Jamaal Robateau who was front and centre. His playmaking ability in the front court was on full display as he too picked up a double-double. Recording a team-high 32 points, he also was sensational with a game-high 10 assists to break down the opposition’s defence, and whilst he also had a game-high seven turnovers, won the ball back three teams and had a block as well.

Jonathan Janssen picked up a double-double with 13 points and 13 rebounds – six offensive – as he tried to go toe-for-toe with Froling, whilst Nelson Kahler was strong thanks to 17 points – at 72.7 per cent from the field – six rebounds, two assists and two blocks. Bede Hooper (11 points, four assists), Josh Walters (nine points, three rebounds) and Zane Meehl (seven points, five rebounds, three assists and one steal) all had plenty of minutes on court.

Ipswich Force (82) defeated by Brisbane Capitals (97)

In the later game, two sides that had been neck-and-neck throughout the season took it up to each other, and lived up to the expectations with the overall depth of talent for the Brisbane Capitals getting it done despite another outstanding performance from Ipswich Force star Nathan Sobey. The Force dropped three more triples than their opponents, but the Capitals put up more shots overall with 38 from 85 compared to 30 from 77, which helped them get the upper hand. They dominated the rebounds (54-38) and assists (25-15), and also led the second chance points (19-14), blocks (2-1) and steals (10-9) in an all-round commanding performance.

It was all about which of the various NBL players could step up on the night, and in the end, they all did with some terrific performances. Sobey had a match-high 32 points in a losing effort, picking up 11 rebounds – nine defensive – as well as six assists and three steals. Critically the pressure of the Capitals’ guards put more pressure on the talented shooter, forcing seven turnovers and a much lower shooting percentage of 37.5 than his usual accuracy. Sobey still had six triples, but from 17 attempts as Brisbane guarded the perimeter well.

It was all about the winners on the night though as they shared the load with Jason Cadee notching up a team-high 24 points, eight rebounds, eight assists and two steals, not far off a remarkable triple-double effort on the big stage. Jarred Bairstow did manage a double-double as the star on the night, picking up 20 points, 13 rebounds, two assists, one steal and one block for the Capitals.

The top efforts rolled on from the Capitals though with Nicholas Stoddart finishing with 19 points, one rebound, one assist and three steals, whilst Timothy Soong dropped seven points, 15 rebounds, seven assists, two steals and one block in another almost triple-double. Max MacKinnon was another who had a memorable night with seven points, nine rebounds, four assists and two steals.

For the Force, Mitchell Poulain supported Sobey well with a monumental effort of 22 points, eight rebounds and one block. He led the way at the shooting end, whilst Jason Ralph (11 points, four rebounds, four assists and one steal) and Jesse Ghee (six points, seven rebounds, one assist and one steal) both performed strongly. Overall though it would not be enough as the Capitals’ ability to rake in the boards and set up the offence was too much and the third placed team advanced through to the QSL Grand Final tonight.

Picture: Joy Hooper

QSL Men’s semi-finals preview: Roar and Force to host Phoenix Teal and Capitals

IT is semi-final time in the Queensland State League (QSL) Men’s competition with the top three teams and fifth placed Sunshine Coast Phoenix Teal remaining in the competition for a shot at the final. Both semi-finals take place on Friday night with the grand final to be played Saturday.

RedCity Roar vs. Sunshine Coast Phoenix Teal
Friday, October 23, 6.30pm
Paul Bancroft Centre

Top of the table RedCity Roar will enter their finals campaign after a well-earned week’s rest having finished the regular season with a 10-1 record. That sole loss came in the final round against Ipswich Force, whilst Sunshine Coast Phoenix Teal upset fourth placed Southern Districts Spartans in the first week of finals to extend their finals campaign by at least another week.

In a Phoenix Teal home game at Maroochydore, RedCity Roar got up over Sunshine Coast on September 12, winning 103-84 in their encounter this season. The visitors dropped 14 triples and shot at a higher rate across the field, whilst also leading the blocks (8-2), steals (12-6) and assists (18-14). It was not all bad news for the home team who actually won the rebound count (54-49) and were particularly dominant off the offensive boards to pick up more second chance points (30-19).

Harry Froling (23 points, 18 rebounds, three assists, three steals and one block) dominated, as did his partner in crime, William McDowell-White who helped himself to a double-double of 28 points, 11 rebounds, seven assists and four steals. The other prominent player on the night was Darryl McDowell-White who notched up 23 points, seven rebounds, two assists and four steals for the Roar, whilst the Phoenix Teal had a trio of big performers too. Jamaal Robateau put up 31 points, eight rebounds, four assists and two steals, as teammates Jonathan Janssen (16 points 14 rebounds) and Nelson Kahler (17 points, 13 rebounds) both had big nights out.

In terms of season averages, Froling is the most damaging player by far, racking up an average of 30.44 points, 16.56 rebounds and 4.56 assists, whilst the McDowell-White’s combined for 45.7 points. William McDowell-White also picks up 10 rebounds and 5.7 assists per night. Other double-figure averages for the Roar include Verle Williams III (16.78 points, 4.0 rebounds and 4.0 assists) and Heath Gameren (10.3 points, 5.9 rebounds and 5.1 assists).

For Phoenix Teal, Robateau has averaged a standout 26.08 points and remains the most deadly free-throw shooter in the competition at a 89.09 per cent clip. With 5.67 rebounds and 5.17 assists per game, he has been a steadfast contributor all season. Janssen (16.33 points, 10.0 rebounds and 2.5 assists) and Kahler (15.58 points, 13.0 rebounds) both average double-doubles across 12 matches, whilst Josh Walters (8.5 points, 3.4 rebounds and 2.8 assists) and Zane Meehl (8.18 points, 4.0 rebounds and 3.0 assists) have also been prominent.

RedCity Roar are deserving favourites, particularly at home and would go into the clash hoping to follow on from their sensational season form with an impressive victory to advance through to Saturday’s decider.

Ipswich Force vs. Brisbane Capitals
Friday, October 23, 7.00pm
JBS Arena

It seems like an eternity ago when Ipswich Force sat 1-2 and were one-point away from an 0-3 start to the QSL season. Instead, once they started going the Force never looked back, storming to eight consecutive wins and grab second spot on the table. Brisbane lost its first game of the season to the Force by that solitary point in Round 1, then strung together 10 of the next 11 games – including its quarter final win last week – to become a potent side in every regard. With more points per game and less points conceded, the Capitals are right in the contest, but the Force have just as much talent.

It has been two and a half months since the sides clashed way back in Round 1 and it went down to the wire. Meeting at the very venue they will clash at tomorrow night – JBS Arena – the Force was able to hold on by a point, 87-86. The Capitals dominated the assists (25-13), with nearly every other stat level with rebounds (47-47), steals (8-8), blocks (2-1 Brisbane) and second chance points (11-10 Ipswich) all even.

Nathan Sobey had a massive game with 33 points, seven rebounds, two assists and one steal for the Force, going toe-for-toe with opponent Cameron Goldfinch who had a big performance with 31 points, six rebounds, one assist and one steal. Perhaps the biggest performance of the lot was Capitals’ Jarred Bairstow who knocked down 23 points and a whopping 19 rebounds – six offensive – as well as six assists as the standout rebounder overall. With Sobey and Goldfinch sinking a combined 13 triples, they were on fire from long-range.

Others who stood out for the Force included Jesse Ghee (23 points, nine rebounds, two assists and two steals) and Mitchell Poulain (nine points, 10 rebounds, three assists, two steals and one block). Meanwhile for the Capitals, Jason Cadee was instrumental in setting up plays with 14 points, three rebounds, eight assists, three steals and one block, whilst Anthony Kopcikas had seven points and seven rebounds in the loss.

Looking at their season averages and Sobey is the clear standout for the Force, averaging 29.82 points, 6.45 rebounds and 4.09 assists per game. He and Ghee (15.73 points, 6.09 rebounds and 3.82 assists) have played all 11 matches thus far, while Poulain (13.78 points, 7.78 rebounds) has played nine. Ryan Jeffries (9.55 points, 3.73 rebounds) and Kane Bishop (8.36 points, 7.09 rebounds) have both competed in every match, while Jason Ralph (7.38 points, 6.25 rebounds and 5.0 assists) has been consistent in eight.

Cadee is leading the charge for the Capitals, putting up 25.0 points, 5.67 rebounds and 7.0 assists this season. He has dropped 51 triples in the QSL season, just three less than Sobey though Cadee has played the extra game. Bairstow is not far behind on points with 21 per match, but he averages a massive 10 rebounds per game and almost five assists per match. Goldfinch is next with 17 points and 6.57 rebounds, while Nicholas Stoddart (12.45 points, 4.64 rebound and 3.64 assists) and Timothy Soong (9.42 points, 4.75 rebounds and 3.0 assists) have been consistent performers.

The match will come down to whether or not Sobey or Cadee can be more prominent from long-range, with the Capitals having the next best with Bairstow and Goldfinch in ripping form, while the Force have some superb depth across the court.

Picture: Brad Anderson

Force and Rollers upset Capitals and Roar to advance

BEING on the road for a do-or-die quarter final up against a quality opponent did not phase either Gold Coast Rollers or Ipswich Force as the fifth and sixth placed sides upset the fourth and third placed lineups, RedCity Roar and Brisbane Capitals respectively. The results mean that top of the table Logan Thunder will now play the sixth placed Force in the semi-finals, whilst the second placed Southern District Spartans will lock horns with the Rollers.

RedCity Roar (62) defeated by Gold Coast Rollers (97)

Only percentage separated the two sides heading into the final, with RedCity Roar traditionally a higher scorer, averaging 77.5 points to the Rollers’ 70.5, whilst also conceding a higher 73.5 to 62.5. It was only the latter number that rung true in the end as the away side Rollers held the Roar to just 62 points during the 35-point win to shock the crowd.

The Roar went into the game without one of their star WNBL talents in Lauren Mansfield, which left a lot on the shoulders of Tall Ferns star, Ashleigh Karaitiana. It was clear throughout the contest that the Rollers were going to make more of their opportunities and their long-range shooting – dropping 16 of 37 triple attempts at 43.2 per cent efficiency – was going to be a problem.

Gold Coast also had seven less shot from inside the arc but was more effective (20/42 to 19/49). The Rollers led the rebounds (47-40), assists (26-16), steals (8-7) and second chance points (13-9) and also had less turnovers (11-16). The Roar managed to level with two blocks apiece, but otherwise it was all the Rollers who were deserving 97-62 winners in the quarter final.

Playing just 19 minutes on court, Gold Coast’s Skye Mason made the most with a deadly eight of 11 from the field, including four of six three-pointers to finish with 21 points and adding a block for good measure. No Rollers’ players had more than 29 minutes on court, with Siarn Woods‘ achieving that feat on her way to 14 points, seven rebounds, five assists and three steals in a best-on-court performance.

Meanwhile Carleigh Patrick (22 minutes) had 14 points, six rebounds and two assists, Lilly Rotunno (24) had seven points, five rebounds and five assists, and Sarah Ambrose (23) finished with seven points, eight rebounds and five assists. Finally, the defensive effort by Kisha Lee to rack up 10 rebounds to go with six points and four assists in just 16 minutes was sensational.

Despite playing the equal most minutes of any player and trying her heart out, Karaitiana finished with 18 points, four rebounds, three assists and two steals in a good effort by the Rollers to hold her. Charmian Mellars stepped up to pick up a double-double with 12 points, 13 rebounds and three assists, whilst Ajiah-Liric Siosiua-Pepe was the only Roar player with an field goal efficiency greater than 40 per cent, making two triples on her way to 14 points, two rebounds and two assists. Kayla Kiriau was the other Roar player to reach double-figure points with 10, as well as five rebounds and three assists.

Brisbane Capitals (76) defeated by Ipswich Force (79)

It was heartbreak for the home fans at Auchenflower Stadium yesterday, as the Brisbane Capitals also suffered a defeat in the quarter finals, going down to Ipswich Force by three points. In the scheme of things just two wins separated the third placed Capitals from the six placed Force heading into the match, with the latter actually better offensively (77.4 to 74.2 points per game), while the former were better defensively (63.5 to 72.4 points conceded).

The match went down to the wire with both teams having their chances in a game of two halves, and in the end it was the Force’s long-range accuracy – 12 of 28 at 42.9 per cent – that stood out. The Capitals hit just 26.7 per cent – four of 15 – from that range, whilst also having double the opportunities from inside the arc. Making 66 attempts, the home side only drained 23, whilst the Force hit 16 of 33 with a higher efficiency.

The sheer volume of possession and shots put up by the Capitals was deserving of victory, as they also dominated the rebounds (54-30), and won the assists (18-15), steals (11-7) and second chance points (21-5), whilst the Force topped the blocks (3-2). In most cases those kind of numbers would lead to a Capitals’ win, but instead the efficiency of the Force helped the lowest ranked finalist get over the line and earn a crack at minor premiers, Logan Thunder.

Amy Lewis embodied the Force’s game on court with an outstanding best-on performance. She sank a match-high 32 points, six rebounds, four assists and one steal playing every minute to ensure her team got over the line. She was well aided by Georgia Ralph (16 points, seven rebounds, two assists and four steals) who was incredibly strong defensively to deny the opposition.

Also hitting double-figure points, Catherine Macgregor knocked down 13 points, and had eight rebounds and two assists, whilst Rachel Mate finished with 12 points, three rebounds, four assists and a block. The Force’s starting five – including Iris Cubit – spent at least 29 minutes on court each whilst scoring all of their points in a dominant effort.

The Capitals favoured heavy rotations, sharing the court time around with eight players earning 17 or more minutes, with Meg Essex (36 minutes) leading the way in many facets, dropping a team-high 26 points and 11 rebounds. Emma Read (18 points, three rebounds and two assists) was the other player to find her range with a greater than 40 per cent efficiency.

The three other starters played their role but struggled with accuracy as Anna Cameron picked up a whopping 16 rebounds – 12 off the offensive boards to give her side second-chance efforts – but could only manage four points with 2/10 from the field. Madison Woodford also achieved that 2/10 field goal attempts, but picked up the nine rebounds and four steals, while Georgia Woolley had 11 points, as well as three rebounds and two assists, but would have loved to have capitalised more from the field with just three from 13 makes.

Picture: Brad Anderson

NZNBL returns with 18in18 women’s schedule announced

SIX teams, 18 games, 18 days. That is what confronts the competitors in the 2020 Sal’s Women’s New Zealand National Basketball League (NZNBL) next month. Much like the men’s competition that was held across June and July, the women’s competition is condensed to ensure it happened in this strangest of calendar years.

Much like the men’s competition, every game will be held in one city at the same venue, with 18 days straight of basketball action. Six teams from across New Zealand will battle it out for ultimate glory, playing each of the other sides five times – for 15 regular season games – followed by two semis and one final.

The season tip-off is on Thursday, November 17 and will run until the December 6 Grand Final. Every match will begin at 7.30pm for 17 consecutive nights until the grand final where the two best teams from the season will face off from 5pm. Every game will be broadcast live on Sky Sport.

The six Sal’s NBL women’s teams are:

  • Auckland Dream
  • Canterbury Wildcats
  • Capital Swish
  • Harbour Breeze
  • Otago Gold Rush
  • Waikato Wizards

NZNBL General Manager Justin Nelson said he was looking forward to another epic competition just like the men’s.

“It’s going to be a fun few weeks, all six teams have been training for some time now and they’re keen to get back out there and battle for a national championship,” he said on the NZNBL website. “It feels like we have been held up from starting the season a couple of times now, so it’s exciting we can finally get going. We are very appreciative of our partners, Sal’s and their supportive team, our friends at Sky Sport, and of course a big thank you to Sport NZ for their assistance.”

Sal’s NBL 18IN18 Schedule:

Day 1 – Thursday November 19

Auckland Dream vs Waikato Wizards @ 7:30pm

Day 2 – Friday November 20

Canterbury Wildcats vs Auckland Dream @ 7:30pm

Day 3 – Saturday November 21

Capital Swish vs Canterbury Wildcats @ 7:30pm

Day 4 – Sunday November 22

Harbour Breeze vs Capital Swish @ 7:30pm

Day 5 – Monday November 23

Otago Gold Rush vs Harbour Breeze @ 7:30pm

Day 6 – Tuesday November 24

Waikato Wizards vs Otago Gold Rush @ 7:30pm

Day 7 – Wednesday November 25

Canterbury Wildcats vs Waikato Wizards @ 7:30pm

Day 8 – Thursday November 26

Harbour Breeze vs Canterbury Wildcats @ 7:30pm

Day 9 – Friday November 27

Capital Swish vs Auckland Dream @ 7:30pm

Day 10 – Saturday November 28

Otago Gold Rush vs Capital Swish @ 7:30pm

Day 11 – Sunday November 29 

Auckland Dream vs Otago Gold Rush @ 7:30pm

Day 12 – Monday November 30

Harbour Breeze vs Waikato Wizards @ 7:30pm

Day 13 – Tuesday December 1

Auckland Dream vs Harbour Breeze @ 7:30pm

Day 14 – Wednesday December 2

Waikato Wizards vs Capital Swish @ 7:30pm

Day 15 – Thursday December 3

Otago Gold Rush vs Canterbury Wildcats @ 7:30pm

Day 16 – Friday December 4

Semi-Final (1v4) @ 7:30pm

Day 17 – Saturday December 5

Semi-Final (2v3) @ 7:30pm

Day 18 – Sunday December 6

Grand Final @ 5:00pm

QSL Men’s Round 10 review: Ipswich Forces RedCity’s first loss in last round thriller

IPSWICH Force has survived a two-point thriller against RedCity Roar in what could be a grand final preview to get up in the final regular season round of Queensland State League (QSL) Men’s action. In the other stunning result, Brisbane Capitals smashed finals-bound Southern Districts Spartans by 44 points on their way to a season-high 133 points.

Toowoomba Mountaineers (80) defeated by Gold Coast Rollers (97)

Gold Coast Rollers won their first game of two for the weekend, getting up by 17 points over Toowoomba Mountaineers. Neither side could make finals, but it was the Rollers who capped off a good start to the weekend by shooting at an accurate 46.7 per cent from long-range, and winning the assists (27-18) and rebounds (50-41), whilst the Mountaineers got on top in the blocks 4-3) and second chance points (13-10). Brent Wallace had a massive game for the Rollers, putting up a double-double of 23 points and 18 rebounds – 13 defensive – as well as two steals and one block. Jaze Morris (22 points, three rebounds and four assists) was also productive on the scoring end, as Jalen Patton Croker (19 points, six rebounds and five assists) and Tom Howard (11 points, six rebounds, four assists and three steals) were also impressive. For the losers, Joseph Johnson had a big day out with 21 points, eight rebounds and five assists, dropping four triples on his way to a team-high points. Jakobe Hunter (11 points, seven rebounds) and Seth Ham (11 points, seven rebounds) also got busy off the boards.

Northside Wizards (71) defeated by Logan Thunder (104)

Logan Thunder maintained their place inside the top six with a vital win over Northside Wizards, getting up by a comfortable 33 points on the road. The Thunder dropped 12 triples to four and shot at an almost-unheard of 73.0 per cent from two-point range as they made the most of their chances. The Wizards had more rebounds (43-36), but the Thunder topped their opponents in assists (32-27), steals (16-7) and blocks (5-1) in a commanding performance. Boston Mazlin recorded a match-high 23 points for the Thunder, as well as four rebounds and two assists), one of six players to notch up double-figure points for the winners. Atem Bior (12 points, six rebounds and three assists), Mitchell Young (12 points, four rebounds and three assists) and Chris Cedar (12 points, three rebounds, five assists and five steals) were others that stood out for the winners. For the Wizards, Jacob Arthur had 18 points, four rebounds and two assists, while Cameron Thew also reached double-figure points with 12 points and four assists.

Sunshine Coast Phoenix Teal (93) defeated South West Metro Pirates (91)

In a thrilling two-point contest, Sunshine Coast Phoenix Teal booked their spot in the finals series with a tight 93-91 triumph at home over South West Metro Pirates. Phoenix Teal controlled the rebounds (49-39) in what was otherwise an even contest with the Pirates going plus-one in the assists and blocks, and plus four in the steals to match it with their mid-table opponents, but unfortunately fell short of victory. Jamaal Robateau was a handful on the offensive end, shooting 35 points, including 17 free-throws to go with an almost triple-double of 10 rebounds and seven assists for the winners. Jonathan Janssen (24 points, 11 rebounds and three steals) and Nelson Kahler (14 points, 12 rebounds, three assists and three blocks) also notched up double-doubles for the Phoenix Teal. Max Kearle led the way for the Pirates in points with 25, as well as three rebounds and five steals, while Tanner Krebs was a star with 21 points, eight rebounds and six assists in a big performance despite the loss.

North Gold Coast Seahawks (70) defeated USC Rip City (63)

It might not have been season-defining in terms of finals, but wooden spooners North Gold Coast Seahawks avoided a winless season by knocking off second last placed USC Rip City by seven points. In their first victory of the season, the Seahawks shot a more accurate clip from the field and got to the charity stripe more often.The sides had just a combined 15 assists for the game, but the Seahawks were well ahead in the rebounds (47-34), whilst USC won the steals (14-7) comfortably. Maika Shortland (17 points, nine rebounds and three assists) and David Fynn (16 points) were both impressive on the scoring front for the Seahawks, whilst Wilson Page impressed off the boards with seven points and seven rebounds. Louis Ilton put up a game-high 21 points for USC, as well as eight rebounds and four steals, while Isaih Tueta (14 points, five rebounds, two assists and three steals) and Flyn O’Toole (10 points, six rebounds, two assists, two steals and two blocks) both hit double-figure points.

RedCity Roar (94) defeated by Ipswich Force (96)

In the game of the round, Ipswich Force and RedCity Roar went toe-for-toe in a huge contest that eventually ended in the Force moving up to third spot and handing the Roar their first defeat of the season. In a showdown of NBL talent between Nathan Sobey and Harry Froling, both sides were unwilling to backdown, but it was the Force who made the most of second chance points (17-12) to be the difference in the end despite the Roar winning the rebounds (46-38) and the blocks (7-1). Sobey ended up topping his opponent in points with 31, as well as seven rebounds, eight assists and three steals in his side’s win. Jason Ralph (13 points, 11 rebound, four rebounds and three assists), Jason Ghee (16 points, three rebounds), Mitchell Poulain (15 points, five rebounds) and Ryan Jeffries (10 points, five rebounds) all hit double-figure points in the 96-94 victory. Froling had the greatest impact off the boards in the match, notching up 14 rebounds to go with 30 points, four assists and two blocks in defeat. Regular performers, William McDowell-White (18 points, 10 rebounds, five assists, two steals and two blocks) and Heath Gameren (12 points, 10 rebounds, five assists and two blocks) both picked up double-doubles, while Darryl McDowell-White (17 points, six rebounds and two assists and Verle Williams III (13 points, three rebounds and two assists) in a match for the ages.

Southern Districts Spartans (89) defeated by Brisbane Capitals (133)

In the other top four clash of the weekend, Brisbane Capitals produced a stunning 44-point thrashing of Southern Districts Spartans to announce themselves as a genuine title contender. The Capitals dominated the assists (31-18) and steals (16-7) whilst being much more accurate from the field throughout the contest, while the Spartans picked up the only two blocks of the game and had one extra second chance point in what what a down performance for the home side. Jason Cadee let loose with a ridiculous 47 points, 11 assists, five rebounds and four steals, shooting at 51.7 per cent from the field and dropping five of 12 from long-range. Jarred Bairstow joined him in the party with 24 points, eight rebounds, five assists and four steals, while Timothy Soong (11 points, five rebounds) and Nicholas Stoddart (13 points, two rebounds and three steals) were also promising in the win. For the Spartans, Callum Dalton notched up 25 points, three rebounds and two assists, leading the way with Tyrell Harrison (14 points, nine rebounds and three assists) and Anei Muorter (10 points) also reaching double-figure points.

Gold Coast Rollers (69) defeated by Ipswich Force (85)

In both side’s second game for the round after wins the previous day, Ipswich Force grabbed second spot on the able with a crucial 16-point win over Gold Coast Rollers on the road. The Force were more accurate outside the arc, shooting at a 37 per cent clip to 25.8 per cent accuracy, whilst leading the assists (26-22), rebounds (41-37) and steals (10-6). The Rollers were far from disappointing though, topping their opponents in blocks (5-2) and second chance points (16-13). Sobey had another big outing with 22 points, six rebounds, four assists sand two steals to lead all-comers, while Ghee (15 points, 10 rebounds, four assists and two steals) also picked up a double-double. Kane Bishop (14, points, eight rebounds and three assists) and Poulain (14 points, nine rebounds, three assists and two blocks) were also productive in the victory. For the Rollers, Morris (18 points, four rebounds and four assists) and Tidjane Diop (18 points, nine rebounds and two steals) shared the top points in a losing side, whilst Patton Croker had the 10 points, seven rebounds, five assists, two steals and one block in an all-round performance.

Picture: Joy Hooper

QSL Women’s Round 10 preview: Top three clash lights up final round

A TOP three clash between Southern Districts Spartans and Brisbane Capitals highlights a massive final round of Queensland State League (QSL) Women’s action this weekend. With seven games on show and only the two teams – Gold Coast Rollers and Ipswich Force – doubling up, it is all or nothing for the sides as they battle to earn a finals spot.

In the second up against third clash, the best offensive side is up against the second best defensive side in what is sure to be a thrilling clash. The Spartans are ranked third defensively themselves, whilst the Capitals rank sixth for points for, but just get it done in low-scoring victories. Brisbane is on a three-game winning streak since going down to the undefeated Logan Thunder by 39 points, claiming a tight three-point win over Gold Coast Rollers before winning by 41 points against top four side RedCity Roar, and 21 points over Sunshine Coast Phoenix Teal.

The Capitals have only hit the ton once – 111 against cellar dwellers Toowoomba Mountaineers – but have also restricted their opponents to less than 80 points in all bar the loss to the Thunder (98). The last three matches, the Capitals have conceded a measly 51 points per game. On the other hand, the Spartans had piled on three consecutive tons in the competition, before dropping to 88 points against USC Rip City, though still had a massive 44-point win. With margins of 44 the past two matches, and then 70 and 24 the weeks before that, the Spartans have always had control of their matches. In their only loss of the season, they went within 15 points of Logan Thunder.

Madelyn Willey leads the way for the Spartans this season, dropping 21.2 points, 5.1 rebounds and 4.0 assists from her 10 games. They have plenty of contributors across the board however with Natalie Taylor (17.7 points, 6.5 rebounds and 3.3 assists) and Kalani Purcell (17.0 points, 9.0 rebounds and 5.9 assists) both prolific. Rebecca Haynes has been dominant off the boards with 11.5 points, 8.4 rebounds and 5.5 assists, whilst Holly Smith is the other double-digit point-scorer with 12.6 points, 3.1 rebounds and 2.6 assists.

For the Capitals, they have four players with six rebounds per game or more, and they happen to be their highest scorers as well. Georgia Woolley (15.6 points, 8.0 rebounds), Meg Essex (13.2 points, 7.9 rebounds), Madison Woodford (11.3 points, 6.4 rebounds) and Anna Cameron (8.6 points, 7.6 rebounds) are all hard to stop on the defensive end. They will need to be at their best to try and stem the firepower of the Spartans.

In other matches, Amy Lewis and the fifth placed Ipswich Force will be hoping to take their case up against RedCity Roar and Gold Coast Rollers, with the Rollers also travelling to Toowoomba to see if they can resign the Mountaineers to a winless season. Steph Reid and the Northside Wizards will try and cause a boil over against Mikaela Ruef and her undefeated Logan Thunder side, whilst Maddison Rocci finishes her season with USC Rip City going up against North Gold Coast Seahawks. In the final game of the round, a 10th and 11th placed battle between Sunshine Coast Phoenix Teal and South West Metro Pirates should be a tight one.


Saturday, October 10:

Toowoomba Mountaineers (12th, 0-10) vs. Gold Coast Rollers (6th, 5-4)
Northside Wizards (7th, 4-6) vs. Logan Thunder (1st, 10-0)
Sunshine Coast Phoenix Teal (10th, 3-7) vs. South West Metro Pirates (11th, 1-9)
North Gold Coast Seahawks (9th, 3-7) vs. USC Rip City (8th, 4-6)
Red City Roar (4th, 7-3) vs. Ipswich Force (5th, 5-4)
Southern Districts Spartans (2nd, 9-1) vs. Brisbane Capitals (3rd, 8-2)

Sunday, October 11:

Gold Coast Rollers (6th, 5-4) vs. Ipswich Force (5th, 5-4)

Picture: Lachlan Nuttall