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2021 NBL1 South Men’s wrap: Round 11

ROUND 11 of National Basketball League (NBL1) South men’s saw a number of enticing battles, with the Knox Raiders and Waverley Falcons clash going down to the wire with just one point between them at the final buzzer.

Knox Raiders v Waverley Falcons

In an electrifying game which saw both teams pushed to their limits until the final seconds of the game, the Knox Raiders managed to secure the 101-100 victory after a missed two-point shot proved costly for the Waverley Falcons. The one-point win capped off a successful Round 11 for the Raiders, who also came away with the win against Eltham Wildcats. The Falcons won the jumpball in the opening term. Both sides were eager for the win, with scores being levelled. A string of shots at the basket from the Raiders had opponents Falcons firing back, getting precious points on the board. The continuous back and forth between the two teams foreshadowed the fiery showdown that was to come.

As the second period begun, a three-point shot was made which tilted the score to favour the Falcons by one. Although Waverley held the lead at one stage, the levelling of scores was seen on numerous occasions throughout the period. By the third stanza, both teams continued to trail one another with the lead never going past five. The fourth period begun 82-76, with Knox taking the lead. Things were beginning to intensify as time ticked by. A blitz of goals from both sides saw a timeout called – a total of six were called altogether. However, a final effort from the Waverley Falcons was not enough to snag the win as a two-pointer from Knox helped to keep their winning streak alive.

Bul Koul was dynamic for the winning side with his performance and was one of the best players for Knox on the day as a result of 24 points and seven rebounds. Teammate Benjamin Ayre followed suit with a classy 22 points, five rebounds and three assists, with Reuben Te Rangi not far behind with 14 points. Falcon’s best included an impressive performance of 28 points, seven rebounds and five assists from Dexter-Kernich Drew. Other prominent names for Waverley were Daniel Dillion who scored 28 points in 34 minutes of play as well as Bennie Lewis and Tristian De Zwart Forsyth who both scored 16 points.

Meanwhile, Ringwood Hawks claimed victory over the Melbourne Tigers by 16 points. The third-placed Geelong Supercats fell short up against the Hobart Chargers, but managed to pull through in time when they battled NW Tasmania. Albury-Wodonga Bandits endured a close-scoring game but missed out on the win against Bendigo Braves. Leader ladders Frankston Blues cruised through their game as they defeated Ringwood Hawks, whilst the Ballarat Miners had a better day in their 27-point win against Nunawading Spectres. Mt Gambier Pioneers reigned supreme against the Kilsyth Cobras. Albury-Wodonga Bandits overthrown the Dandenong Rangers by 15 points, Ballarat Miners found success against the Diamond Valley Eagles by 19 points.

In other results, Waverley Falcons, Nunawading Spectres and Melbourne Spectres all found wins against Frankston Blues, Mt Gambier Pioneers and Sandringham Sabres respectively.

NBL1 SOUTH ROUND 11 RESULTS
Ringwood Hawks defeat Melbourne Tigers 76 – 60
Hobart Charges defeat Geelong Supercats 109 – 96
Bendigo Braves defeat Albury-Wodonga Bandits 87-83
Kilsyth Cobras defeat Ringwood Hawks 78 – 74
Geelong Supercats defeat NW Tasmania 90 – 70
Knox Raiders defeat Waverley Falcons 101 – 100
Frankston Blues defeat Ringwood Hawks 137 – 102
Ballarat Miners defeat Nunawading Spectres 94 – 67
Mt Gambier Pioneers defeat Kilsyth Cobras 87 – 77
Albury-Wodonga Bandits defeat Dandenong Rangers 99 – 84
Knox Raiders defeat Eltham Wildcats 94 – 80
Ballarat Miners defeat Diamond Valley Eagles 88 – 69
Waverley Falcons defeat Frankston Blues 89 – 71
Nunawading Spectres defeat Mt Gambier Pioneers 106 – 97
Melbourne Tigers defeat Sandringham Sabres 97 – 83

 

Picture credit: Samuel Angus MacKinnon

Hawks swoop against Saints as Nuggets’ Giant first half secures win over Nelson

HAWKES Bay Hawks swooped on the Wellington Saints early to post an impressive win in the 2019 New Zealand National Basketball League (NZNBL) finals rematch, whilst the Otago Nuggets spoiled the Nelson Giants’ 40th birthday celebrations in the other match. Both games saw the eventual winners storm to a big lead early, and shake up the ladder, as the top four teams now sit a game clear of the rest of the competition.

In the top three clash, Hawkes Hay Hawks leapfrogged the Wellington Saints to hand their opponents only their second loss for the season. Moving into second spot on the ladder, the Hawks did so by taking control from the opening tip-off and leading 23-12 at the first break. The Saints predictably clawed their way back into the contest, winning the second term by six points and the third by three, but the home team steadied when it counted to win the last stanza by four, and the match by six, 88-82.

Hawkes Bay shot at a more accurate 49 per cent from the field, compared to the Saints’ 41 per cent. They won the rebounds (39-37), points in the paint (38-34) and second chance points (15-8) on the night. The Saints had their fair share of the ball, with one more assists (18-17) and steals (6-5), as well as more blocks (6-1) and less turnovers (10-13), leading to an even share of the points from turnovers (11-11), but the Saints produced more points off the bench (17-9).

It was an even team performance from the Hawks, with Devondrick Walker (20 points, four rebounds) marginally winning the Most Valuable Player (MVP) award from the match, shooting four of seven from long-range. Hyrum Harris (18 points, seven rebounds and four assists) was not far behind, whilst Rhys Vague (15 points, three rebounds and two assists), Derone Raukawa (14 points, three rebounds, two assists and two steals) and Ethan Rusbatch (12 points, five rebounds and three assists).

For the Saints, Tohi Smith-Milner top-scored with 19 points, seven rebounds and five assists, whilst the long-range shooting deadeye of Taane Samuel managed four of five from beyond the arc to finish with 14 points, four rebounds and two blocks. Kerwin Roach Jr (18 points, six rebounds and five assists) and Dion Prewster (14 points, five assists, four rebounds and two steals) also impressed from the starting team, while Leon Henry contributed all the team’s bench points with 17 – five of nine from three-point range – as well as seven rebounds and four blocks in the loss.

The Otago Nuggets silenced the crowd early on a night where the Nelson Giants were celebrating 40 years in the competition, piling on 31 points to 19 in the opening term, then 23-18 in the second quarter to lead by 17 points at the main break. The home team sprung to life in the second half, winning it 47-40, but it was a case of too little, too late, with the visitors getting up by 10 points, 94-84.

Otago shot the lights out with 56 per cent of their attempts from the field going in, compared to the Giants’ 34 per cent. What made it all the more impressive was that the Nuggets had 25 less shots, but nailed four more than their opponents, including the same amount of triples (11) despite 19 less attempts (21-40). They also won the rebounds (43-41), assists (23-15) and blocks (5-0), and had more points in the paint (40-28). The Giants committed less turnovers (10-20) and therefore had more points from turnovers (22-12), as well as more second chance points (16-13) and steals (10-4).

Isaiah Moss won MVP with 24 points – five of nine from long-range – eight rebounds, two assists and two steals to lead the way, whilst Gerasimos McKay picked up 21 points, nine rebounds and two assists on the night. Sam Timmins continued his hot streak with a double-double of 15 points and 12 rebounds – 11 defensive – as well as five assists, two steals and two blocks, while Richie Rodger had the 11 points, seven assists and two rebounds.

For the Giants, Hunter Hale had 21 points, five assists, five steals and two rebounds, just ahead of Sam Dempster (19 points, seven rebounds and two assists) Thomas Ingham (11 points, four rebounds) also hit double-figure points from the starting line-up, whilst Nic Trathen contributed his usual long-range shooting from the bench with three of five going in from long-range on his way to 13 points and three rebounds.

Wellington Saints front up tonight up against the Taranaki Mountainairs, whilst the Hawkes Bay Hawks take on Manawatu Jets tomorrow, whilst the Otago Nuggets also play then against Franklin Bulls. The Nelson Giants have an extended break until lJune 25 when they lock horns with the Saints.

Picture credit: PhotosportNZ via NZNBL

NBL: Kings perform late to keep finals chances alive

WITH slim finals hopes on the line, the Sydney Kings were able to sneak past the undermanned Illawarra Hawks, emerging from WIN Entertainment Centre with a six-point triumph on Thursday night. With their finals position locked in, the Hawks opted to rest star Tyler Harvey, giving the Kings an almighty confidence boost heading into the game, but were still dished a real scare, as the home side fought tooth and nail right until the end, but fell two baskets short. Leading by five points early in the final term, the Hawks looked as if they were more than capable of claiming an unlikely win, but late threes to Shaun Bruce and Xavier Cooks locked the game shut, as the Kings claimed an all-important victory.

The game opened in pretty dominant fashion for the Kings, starting the match on an 8-0 scoring run, thanks to Jarrell Martin finding an open lane to the hoop and finishing inside. The Hawks would soon after open their scoring, but the margin remained considerable, with a pair of Jarrad Weeks three-pointers opening the lead to double digits. The Hawks were able to chip away at this deficit, but still entered the first break trailing by six points with plenty of emphasis on the absence of leading-scorer Harvey. They were able to not only tie up proceedings early in the second quarter, but they even took the lead courtesy of a pair of long bombs from Hawk Lachlan Dent, who made the most of his extended minutes during the match. The Kings responded almost immediately, as Martin and guard Casper Ware came alive to close out the quarter in strong fashion, taking a seven-point advantage into half time. While the Hawks trailed, their belief in their ability to claim an unlikely win remained rock-solid.

The Kings opened the third term on another scoring tear, thanks to the range of Ware, who was really beginning to find his rhythm in the contest at this stage. An and-one to Jordan Hunter saw the lead again creep out to 11 points, and it looked as if Sydney were on the cusp of blowing the game wide open. The Hawks had other ideas though, taking over the game with a scoring blitz and bursting out to a three-point lead, before it was trimmed to just one point heading into the final term. The fourth quarter began with the Hawks jumping out of the gates to an early five-point advantage, thanks to a couple of tough finishes in the paint from Sam Froling. The Hawks had many hopes of a victory at this stage, but the Kings were able to grit their teeth and make the match-winning plays.

For the Kings, Martin was huge for his side, pouring in 23 points and 10 rebounds to deliver a significant impact on the result of the game. He was well aided by teammates Cooks (19 points) and Hunter (15 points). For the Hawks, Froling, Isaac White and Emmett Naar all contributed 12 points, and stood up in the absence of Harvey.

Closing in on the South East Melbourne Phoenix, the Kings have one more match to play as they look to sneak into the finals. They will face off against a fellow finals hopeful in the Brisbane Bullets, who are also looking to claw their way into the finals with a win. Be sure to tune in to Qudos Bank Arena on Saturday night in what should be an explosive contest, as both sides play for their seasons.

Picture credit: Matt King

Wildcats do it again without Bryce with triumph over Kings

THE Perth Wildcats have recorded their second consecutive win without NBL superstar Bryce Cotton, taking down the Sydney Kings by 14 points at RAC Arena on Thursday night. The former NBL MVP is set for a stint on the sidelines with a quad injury, but that has not slowed down the form of his side. The Wildcats have backed up their win over the Adelaide 36ers earlier this week by taking down a Kings side that was hopeful of taking advantage of an undermanned opponent. Instead, the 10,650 strong Perth crowd was treated to a crucial win from the home side, a result that truly keeps them in contention for dethroning Melbourne United on top of the ladder.

The opening term saw Wildcat John Mooney open his account with eight first-quarter points, while teammate Todd Blanchfield was also impressive to begin the game. Despite strong performances from the pair, the Wildcats trailed by one point at the first break, with a determined Kings side up for the fight, thanks to a number of contributors. Despite entering the match without their star, the Wildcats still entered the match favourites, so when the Kings’ lead extended into the second quarter, fans in RAC Arena felt they were on the brink of witnessing a disappointing upset. The Wildcats were determined not to let this happen, and were able to completely break the game open to finish the quarter. A Mooney 3-pointer put his side up by two points, and this kickstarted a remarkable 14-0 run from the Wildcats to close out the second term. Blanchfield score eight straight points as the Kings struggled to contain the Perth forward from finding any shot he desired. The Wildcats entered the locker rooms at halftime with a 15-point lead, and prepared for any charge the Kings would make in the second half.

The third quarter saw the Kings make a slight charge as expected, but missing crucial shots saw the visitors not able to take advantage of this and reduce the lead. Instead, it was eight consecutive points from Wildcats development player Luke Travers that had the strongest impact for the quarter. Despite keeping their opponents quiet for periods of the third term, the Kings still trailed by 14 points heading into the final term. The fourth quarter certainly the prettiest display of basketball we’ve seen this season, with the Wildcats opening the scoring through Blanchfield, but unable to score a basket for the next seven minutes. The Kings were only able to score seven points themselves during this time, and their inability to capitalise ultimately ruled out any chance of a comeback as they would fall 81-67.

For the Wildcats, Blanchfield (23 points) and Mooney (19) ran the show all night long, constantly finding ways to score when their team needed it. Blanchfield’s eight-point run in the second term truly broke the game open when the contest was up for grabs. Travers also impressed for the Wildcats with 16 points of his own. For the Kings, Jarell Martin was an offensive threat all night, despite the scoreboard deficit. The forward finished with 20 points, while fellow King Jordan Hunter recorded a double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds.

The Wildcats will head to Illawarra on Tuesday night to take on the Hawks, while the Kings face the toughest task in the NBL as they face off against the ladder-leading Melbourne United in Sydney on Saturday.

Picture credit: Paul Kane

Wildcats grind past 36ers as form builds for finals

BRYCE who? In their triumph over the Adelaide 36ers, the Perth Wildcats proved that while Bryce Cotton is an absolute gun of the competition, they can still prove dangerous without him. The dual-National Basketball League (NBL) MVP missed Sunday’s game, with the team opting to not risk his health following a groin injury. Cotton has been immensely valuable for the Wildcats, and there were question marks around whether this team could perform without him. These doubts were squashed as the team ground their way to a 76-68 win at Adelaide Entertainment Centre.

The game started as a close affair, with Wildcat Mitchell Norton involved early with his ability to not only score the ball but find teammates with great looks. The 36ers were keeping up with their opponents however, and each lead gained was immediately met with an instant reply. While the start was promising for the Wildcats, a major concern raised pre-match was fatigue, as this was the side’s 11th match in just six days. This was reflected in play, but not on the scoreboard, as the side scrapped their way to a four-point advantage at the first break. The second term saw the Wildcats jump to an early nine-point lead, thanks to a Clint Steindl three ball and some crafty work inside from Norton. This lead would not last though, with Adelaide able to keep the pace with their opponents and stay right in the contest. Ball movement was the key for the 36ers, and they trailed by just two points at half-time, and left for the locker room with plenty of confidence.

The second half opened in tense fashion, with both teams trading baskets. It was not until halfway through the term that the Wildcats were able to break away to a six-point lead, but it took just two minutes for this advantage to disappear, and the teams were back and forth once again. A handy three-pointer from Kevin White saw the Wildcats head into the final term with a five-point margin. The fourth quarter delivered plenty of fast-paced action, as the lead floated around the six-point mark for majority of the term. The dagger came in the form of a strong and-one from Norton that put his side up by seven points to seal the game, in what was a gutsy win from the away side.

For the Wildcats, the star of the show was Norton, as the guard was given more opportunity with the absence of Cotton and grabbed it with both hands. He finished the match with 19 points, three rebounds, three assists and three steals. Norton showed leadership qualities as he drove his side to an important win heading into the finals series. With Cotton’s return imminent, Norton should prove another serious threat for Perth in the finals. He had some impressive help from teammate John Mooney who poured in 15 points and 12 rebounds, while Todd Blanchfield had 14 points of his own. For the 36ers, four of their starters finished with double digits, as they made their way to 68 points despite no player scoring over 13 points.

This marks the fourth consecutive loss for the 36ers, with their finals hopes all but vanquished. They next travel to Christchurch Arena take on the New Zealand Breakers on Tuesday night as they look for a shot at redemption. This was also the 24th win for the season for the Wildcats as they look towards the upcoming finals series, with this victory only boosting their momentum. Their next match comes in the form of Thursday’s blockbuster clash with the Sydney Kings at RAC Arena.

NBL1 North wrap: Round 1

NBL1 North division kicked off its 2021 season in style over the weekend, as teams return to action after quite a long offseason.

USC Rip City v Sunshine Coast Phoenix

Women:

The Phoenix showed no signs of rust as they took down Rip City by 19 points at USC Sports Stadium on Thursday night. The Phoenix opened the game in style with a 26-point first quarter, with Rip City unable to match the scoring output and the lead was only extended throughout the match. For the victors, Biancia Abbott was dominant with 22 points and 14 rebounds to lead her side to victory, and teammate Kathleen Macleod poured in 18 points and nine assists. For Rip City, Carlie Smith fought hard with 18 points and seven rebounds.

Men:

The Phoenix were dominant as they crushed Rip City by a whopping 42 points on Thursday night. One sided first, third and fourth quarters told the story, as Rip City could not contain their opponents, who were able to get good looks from wherever they pleased. If the Phoenix can maintain this sort of output, they will prove difficult to overcome as the season progresses. For the Phoenix, Nelson Kahler was outstanding with 28 points and 12 rebounds, and combined well with teammate Darnell Robateau who had 24 points of his own. For USC, Isaih Tueta was the only scorer in double digits with 17 points.

Townsville Flames v Mackay Meteorettes/Meteors

Women:

Townsville pulled off an amazing comeback to defeat Mackay by four points at Townsville StarFM Stadium on Friday night. The Flames trailed by 12 points at the main break with plenty to ponder after being convincingly outplayed after two quarters of action. The second half saw the side flick a switch as they found their rhythm on both ends of the court, with Mia Murray’s three pointer late in the final term giving her side a lead they would eventually defend. For Townsville, Stephanie Reid defeated her shooting woes to pour in 18 points which would prove crucial. For Mackay, Cayla George can hold her head high with 17 points and 17 rebounds.

Men:

Townsville held off a fast-finishing Mackay side to take the win by three points in each side’s first outing of the year. The Flames had a 12-point lead at halftime, as the game pointed toward a blowout, but Mackay fought back to make it just a four point game heading into the final term. They even took the lead late in the game, but Townsville did just enough to walk away with the win after a tense clash. For the winners, Jalen Patton-Croker top scored with 17 points, but it truly was a team driven performance. For Mackay, Emmanuel Malou was nearly the match-winner with 28 points in a strong offensive performance.

Brisbane Capitals v Northside Wizards

Women:

A strong final term sealed the result for the Capitals as they defeated the Wizards by 17 points at Auchenflower Stadium on Saturday. The Wizards were within 10 points heading into the fourth quarter with just the slightest sniff of a comeback, but the Capitals put the pedal to the metal in the fourth to claim an important victory in the first round. For the Capitals, Brooke Blair was a beast offensively, finishing with 23 points as the Wizards’ defenders had no answer. For Northside, Georgia Woolley’s 19 points kept her side in the contest.

Men:

The Brisbane Capitals have opened their 2021 account in style, with a dominant 28-point blowout of the Northside Wizards on Saturday. The Capitals blew the game open in the final quarter to send a message to the rest of the competition that they mean business this season. The Capitals outscored their opponents by 27 points in the second half to put the game well out of reach. For the victors, five players scored over 15 points in a remarkably spread-out performance that will surely scare upcoming opponents. For the Capitals, Cameron Thew was the strongest with 23 points and nine rebounds.

Logan Thunder v Red City Roar

Women:

The Logan Thunder were absolutely ruthless in taking down the Red City Roar, eventually triumphing by a whopping 58 points at Bendigo Bank Cornubia Park Sports Centre on Saturday. Outscoring the Roar by 40 points in the first half alone, the Thunder were scarily good with their ability to constantly find ideal looks at a shot, while the Roar shot terribly for the length of the match. For the Thunder, Ashley Taia was the clear star with 35 points and 10 three pointers in one of the most dominant displays of the weekend.

Men:

The Logan Thunder set up their 18-point win with a clinical first quarter as they took down the Roar at Bendigo Bank Cornubia Park Sports Centre on Saturday night. The Thunder worked their way to a 22-point lead at the end of the first quarter, and the game was quite even for the next three quarters, but the Roar were unable to close the massive gap that was set up in the first term. For the Thunder, Jeremy Kendle was outstanding, finishing with a triple-double of 29 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists as the game’s best performer. For the Roar, Darryl Mcdowell-White’s 20 points were crucial in sparking his side’s offensive output.

Cairns Dolphins/Marlins v Mackay Meteorettes/Meteors

Women:

Mackay bounced back from their poor loss to Townsville with an emphatic 42-point victory over the Cairns Dolphins at Early Settler Stadium on Saturday night. Mackay were clinical as they ran over the top of their opponents from the very first bounce, outscoring the Dolphins by 22 in the first term and not looking back from there. For the winners, Chelsea Brook was fantastic, ending the match with 37 points, 11 rebounds and five assists, but just as impressive was teammate Cayla George with 22 points and 20 rebounds. For the Dolphins, Sarah Heard scored 18 points in a promising performance.

Men:

Early Settler Stadium was treated to a thriller on Saturday night, as the Cairns Marlins fell two points short to the Mackay Meteors, who were thrilled to take home their first win of the season following a tough loss to open the year. Meteor Christopher Cedar was the hero, hitting a clutch three pointer with six seconds remaining to give his side the game winning lead in the tense battle. Following a 27-16 first quarter, it looked like the Meteors were going to walk away with an easy win, but the Marlins kept themselves in the contest right up until the final buzzer. For the Meteors, Cedar and Emmanuel Malou combined for 38 points and 22 rebounds as a dynamic duo, while Marlin Anthony Fisher competed strongly all match.

South West Metro Pirates v Southern Districts Spartans

Women:

The Southern Districts Spartans delivered a strong four quarter performance as they took down the South West Metro Pirates to the tune of 29 points at Hibiscus Sports Stadium on Saturday night. The Spartans dominated for the entire game, never giving their opponents a look in at a comeback and will be looking to build on this performance as they resume the 2021 season on the weekend. For the Spartans, Maddison Rocci was fantastic with 17 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists in a performance that proves that she can truly do it all. For the Pirates, Amanda Johnson was inspirational as she fought her way to 30 points and 18 rebounds.

Men:

The final quarter comeback fell just short as the Spartans held off a fast-finishing Pirates side to claim their first win of the season. The Pirates had the highest scoring term in the final quarter but could not get past the final hurdle, falling just six points short of an inspirational victory. For the Spartans, Josh Derksen was impressive to start the season with 22 points and nine rebounds, while Pirate Kai Woodfall was great with 20 points of his own.

Gold Coast Rollers v Ipswich Force

Women:

The Gold Coast Rollers could not have started their season any better, defeating the Ipswich Force by 24 points at Carrara Stadium on Sunday. The Rollers had remarkable first and fourth quarters, outscoring the Force by 38 points in these two terms as they set up an impressive win with plenty to build on in the upcoming rounds. For the Rollers, Lauren Mansfield led the way with an eye-catching 27-point performance. For the Force, Amy Lewis never gave up as she finished the match with 21 points.

Men:

The closest game of the round was saved for last as the Gold Coast Rollers escaped Carrara Stadium with a one-point triumph over the Ipswich Force on Sunday. Gold Coast’s Jaryd Eustace did not shy away from the big moment, hitting a clutch shot from long range to give his side a one-point lead with six seconds remaining. The Force couldn’t answer, and the Rollers emerged victorious in an absolute thriller. Eustace was the clear hero for the Rollers, shaking off his poor shooting performance to deliver the biggest shot of the game. For the Force, Jason Ralph’s 20-point performance were integral in nearly giving his side the win.

Picture credit: Courier Mail

Phoenix deliver huge upset with win over United

THE South East Melbourne Phoenix have tightened their grip on a maiden finals appearance with a 94-83 triumph over top of the table Melbourne United. With the playoffs approaching, the Phoenix sent a message to the rest of the competition, storming past their cross-town rivals to prove that they can defeat any team in the competition. With import guard Kiefer Sykes back in the lineup and as dangerous as ever, the Phoenix were able to break the game open in the third quarter, as their offence flowed with rhythm and fluidity.

The first quarter saw a tense battle, with both sides answering the call from each other. A late Scotty Hopson dunk saw United draw the scores level heading into quarter time at 20 apiece. The second quarter saw more of the same as Sykes began to heat up, but United kept up on the scoreboard with the likes of Mitch Mccarron getting to the free throw line on multiple occasions. The game was once again tied at the main break, and the Melbourne derby was the close contest fans expected heading into the match.

The third term was where the game was won, with the Phoenix regaining the lead halfway through the quarter and breaking away from their opponents, who were left helpless with the prospect of slowing down the likes of Sykes and Mitch Creek who was beginning to find his offensive mojo. With the margin suddenly eight points at the final break, the NBL world began to believe that an upset was on the cards. Phoenix had all the momentum heading into the final quarter and with United unable to contain Sykes with the absence of defensive guard Yudai Baba, the result had all but been decided. The final term saw a brilliant four-point play from Sykes that summed up the way the game had gone and was heading. The conversion of the free throw saw the lead burst out to 14 points, and the Phoenix were able to put the game in cruise control. Even when a Chris Goulding three brought the game to within five points with two minutes to play, the Phoenix had all the answers, putting their faith in the likes of Sykes to bring the game home, and he delivered, with his side running out 11-point victors.

For the Phoenix, Sykes was an absolute star for his side, finishing the game with 26 points and six assists in a match winning performance. Whenever his side needed an offensive spark, he was there, and his four-point play to open the final quarter was crucial in keeping the opposition at bay. Teammate Creek was strong as well, pouring in 14 points, eight rebounds and eight assists in a typically all-around performance, while Yannick Wetzell’s 12 points were handy. For United, Jock Landale led the way with 19 points (8-8 FG from inside the arc), using his offensive ability to keep his side competitive throughout the match, particularly in the first half. United star Goulding was banged up after a collision with Sykes and was limited to just 20 minutes for the match. This didn’t stop him from ending the match with 13 points, but his side would have much preferred their gun guard at 100 per cent for the entirety of the match.

This was the South-East Melbourne Phoenix’s third win in a row as their momentum builds heading into potentially their first ever playoff appearance as a club. They sit in third place with only three rounds remaining for the season and will head to Nissan Arena to take on the Brisbane Bullets on Saturday night. Despite the loss, United still sit a game clear on top of the ladder at the pointy-end of the season. They take on the Illawarra Hawks on Tuesday night at WIN Entertainment Centre.

Picture credit: Graham Denholm

NBL1 Central Round 6: Stats leaders

AFTER six rounds of thrilling NBL1 action in the central division, stars are announcing themselves with strong statistical performances. We take a look at who is performing strongly on the court in their areas and who to keep an eye out for in the upcoming weeks.

Men’s

Average Points:

Jack Purchase – 29
CJ Turnage – 28.67
Michael Harris – 24.33
Earnest Ross – 22.83
Alex Starling – 22.83

Jack Purchase has found himself at the top of the list with 29 points per game, but has only played the one game, so it will be interesting to see if he can maintain this scoring output in the future. Hot on his tail is CJ Turnage from the Flames, with a remarkable 28.67 points per game, paired with his 50 percent shooting efficiency. He has consistently delivered on the offensive end for his side and proves to hurt the opposition on a weekly basis. Rounding out the top three is Forrestville’s Michael Harris, whose incredible first two games (37 and 35 points) see him average 24.33 points per game.

Average Rebounds:

Alex Starling – 14.33
Jack Purchase – 14
Joe Jackson – 12.33
Lual Diing – 11.83
Brandon Brine – 11

The boards have been dominated by South Adelaide Panther Alex Starling, who has been a monster, averaging 14.33 rebounds, with a season-high of 20 in the first round. His rebounding efforts have been crucial for his side, popping up on both the offensive and defensive ends to give his side possession of the ball. Purchase once again finds himself around the top of the list, but only playing one game means that this position is subject to change. Joe Jackson has been huge for the Warriors, averaging 12.33 rebounds a game, fresh off 20 in round six.

Average Assists:

Julian Jacobs – 9.17
Hamish Staude – 5.17
Sam Daly – 4.83
Nick Wurm – 4.67
Joel Spear – 4.67

Julian Jacobs has been the league’s best distributor this season by a country, with his Warriors teammates the beneficiary of his 9.17 assists per game. Jacobs has been handy scoring himself, but his vision and execution with the ball in his hands is a marvel to watch. In second place is North Adelaide Rocket Hamish Staude with 5.17 per game, while Sabres pair Sam Daly (4.83 per game) and Joel Spear (4.67 per game) have proved selfless throughout the season.

Average Blocks:

Lachie Hunter – 2.33
Joe Jackson – 2
Jack Purchase – 2
Riley Meldrum – 1.33
Gregory Mays – 1.33

In a league where big men dominate on the offensive end, blocks are a crucial stat, and they are currently led by West Adelaide Bearcats’ Lachie Hunter with an impressive 2.33 per game. Round two’s five block effort gave opponents a headache as they attacked the rim, and his defensive efforts have given his side a massive boost. Purchase’s impressive debut once again sees him on the list, while Jackson has had quite the season to-date, as Warriors youngster Riley Meldrum has impressed with his 1.33 per game.

Women’s

Average Points:

Olivia Thompson – 24
Samantha Simons – 21.83
Emily Winter – 21.83
Jade Johnson – 19.33
Ashley Spencer – 19.33

 Olivia Thompson has been undoubtedly the strongest performer in the 2021 NBL1 Central Women’s Division. Her scoring capability has been exceptional, as she has worked her way to 24 points per game, good enough for best in the league, and her Panthers teammates love her for it. Forrestville’s Samantha Simons is hot on her tail in second place, with 21.83 points per game, which sees her tied with Emily Winter who boasts the same average. Sabre Jade Johnson has also impressed with 19.33 points per game. 

Average Rebounds:

Olivia Thompson – 14.17
Emily Winter – 13.67
Jess Good – 11.83
Mollie McKendrick – 10.33
Samantha Simons – 9.50

A very similar list to the last wherein Thompson once again has jump ahead on her peers, with her 14.17 rebounds per game leading the league. She bullies her opponents when getting a rebound and is a threat every time she steps on the court. The same can be said for Winter, who isn’t far behind with 13.67 rebounds per game. Jess Good has been integral in giving the Rockets rebounding ascendancy with 11.83 per game, while Eastern Mavericks’ Mollie McKendrick has battled hard on the boards all year. 

Average Assists:

Jordan Hunter – 8.83
Alex Wilson – 6.80
Nicola Matthews – 5
Morgan Yaeger – 5
Samantha Simons – 4.67

South Adelaide Panthers guard Jordan Hunter has been the premier passer of the league this season, with a whopping 8.83 assists per game. Hunter’s passing ability has been crucial to the success of her team, with her vision consistently finding teammates in open positions that lead to easy scores. Alex Wilson has been just as impressive with 6.8 assists per game, with her willingness to find open teammates making her coaches extremely happy. Nicola Matthews and Morgan Yaeger have caught the eye with 5 assists per game each, while Simons puts herself on yet another list.

Average Blocks:

Jess Good – 1.50
April Rummery Lamb – 1.33
Courtney Hansen – 1.20
Zali Grosser – 1.20
Amy Cotton – 1

Good once again finds herself at the top of a statistical category, with her 1.50 blocks per game the best in the competition. The Rocket had a massive six blocks in her round two game alone and has continued to defend the rim throughout the season. April Rummery Lamb has had an outstanding few weeks and its evident with her place on this list due to her 1.33 blocks per game. North Adelaide Rocket Courtney Hansen and Eagle Zali Grosser have impressed with 1.20 blocks per game each.

Picture credit: Roar Photographics

2021 NBL1 Central wrap: Round 6

NBL1’s Central Division delivered a round of action that had blowouts, thrillers and everything in between, as we take a look back at this weekend’s games.

Forestville Eagles v Sturt Sabres

Women:

The Eagles were handed their first loss of the 2021 season, courtesy of a clinical performance from the Sabres. In a highly anticipated contest, the final margin was not even close, with Sturt walking away winners by a 24-point margin. The Sabres have moved up to second on the ladder, while the Eagles drop to third after the defeat. For the victors, Kylee Smith and Jade Johnson combined for 39 of the team’s 67 points, forming an impressive tandem. For the Eagles, Samantha Simons fought hard offensively and on the glass all day, finishing with 13 points and 12 rebounds in a valiant performance.

Men:

In an absolute thriller, Sturt outlasted their opponents in the last quarter, defeating the Eagles by five points at Wayville Sports Centre on Saturday night. With the game tied heading into the final quarter, Sturt did just enough to secure the win and remain undefeated after six rounds, a feat only they have achieved this season. For the winning side, Joel Spear and Sam Daly combined for 43 points and were vital in their team’s win. For the Eagles, Michael Harris was an offensive weapon, finishing with 26 points in what could have been a match-winning performance.

Southern Tigers v Norwood Flames

Women:

With the result of the game mentioned above, the Southern Tigers remain the only undefeated side in the league, following their 15-point triumph over the Flames. The Tigers now find themselves a game clear on top of the ladder and will be looking to keep it this way. The Flames now sit in seventh place on the ladder with plenty of work to do if they want to climb. For the Tigers, Teige Morell was instrumental, finishing with 24 points and 13 rebounds, seven of those being offensive. For the Flames, Genna Anderson was impressive with 23 points and 10 rebounds as she fought to keep her side afloat.

Men:

A big second quarter set up a seven-point win for the Tigers, as they took down the Flames at Morhett Vale Basketball Stadium on Saturday night. The Tigers outscored their opponents 26-13 in the second term, and the lead was eventually unassailable for the Flames, with the Tigers recording their fourth win of the season to put them in the top four on the ladder. For the victors, Cameron Coleman was eye-catching, with 28 points and 11 rebounds in a typically impressive outing. For the Flames, CJ Turnage was a monster, finishing the game with 31 points, seven rebounds and eight assists as he attempted to carry his side to a win.

West Adelaide Bearcats v Eastern Mavericks

Women:

The West Adelaide Bearcats recorded a crucial win as they defeated the struggling Eastern Mavericks by 19 points in their round six clash. The Bearcats didn’t lose a quarter for the game, and comfortably defeated an Eastern Mavericks side still searching for their first win in what has been a disappointing 2021 campaign for the club. For the Bearcats, Jennie Rintala performed strongly as expected, finishing with 21 points in a strong win. For the Mavericks, Mollie McKendrick continues to battle hard in a losing side, finishing with 20 points for the match.

Men:

The Bearcats were ruthless in their dismissal of the Mavericks, walking away with a 41-point win at Port Adelaide Recreation Centre on Saturday night. The Mavericks have looked incapable all season and this trend continued as the Bearcats used the match as a method of getting their confidence. For the Bearcats, Earnest Ross recorded a monster triple-double with 22 points, 15 rebounds and 10 assists in a dominant outing. For the Mavericks, William Wise battled his way to 19 points in a brave effort.

Woodville Warriors v South Adelaide Panthers

Women:

The Panthers continued their run of hot form, taking down the Warriors by 29 points, to continue their reputation as one of the in-form teams of the competition. Winning every quarter, the Panthers cruised to their fifth win of the season, while the Warriors were on the end of their fifth win of the year. For the Panthers, Olivia Thompson was their best performer, with 20 points and 14 boards, continuing her fine form. For the Warriors, Emily Winter battled hard as she typically does, scoring 30 of her side’s 67 points.

Men:

A final quarter surge saw the Panthers steal a four-point win from the Warriors at St Clair Recreation Centre on Saturday night. The Warriors led at the final break, and an expected win looked like it would unfold, but the Panthers outscored their opponents 28-19 in the final period to crush the hearts of Warriors fans. For the Panthers, Alex Starling delivered the performance of the round with 37 points, 20 rebounds and seven steals in a heroic effort. James Boonstoppel was the best for the Warriors with 23 points.

North Adelaide Rockets v Central Districts Lions

Women:

The final matchup for the round saw a ruthless Rocket display, as they crushed the Lions to the tune of 37 points to claim an important victory. The Lions’ woes continue as they remain in last place with no wins to show from six games, while the Rockets moved up to sixth place with a 3-3 record. For the winners, Taylor Ortlepp displayed her offensive arsenal, finishing with 27 points to once again be her side’s top scorer. For the Lions, April Rummery Lumb finished with 16 points and 10 rebounds.

Men:

The final game of the round saw an overtime thriller, as the Central Districts Lions snuck past the North Adelaide Rockets by four points at The Lights Community and Sports Centre on Saturday night. The Lions rallied in the final quarter to force overtime, and then proved to be the better time in the extra period. For the Lions, Lual Diing lived up to his reputation, pouring in a whopping 25 points and 24 rebounds in the win. For the Rockets, Jack Purchase was fantastic with 29 points and 14 rebounds of his own.

Picture credit: Kelly Barnes/AllStar Photos

NBL1 Central preview: Blockbuster day for a cause

NBL1’s Central Division returns for another round of high-quality basketball action. This week will look a little different, with the league celebrating Pink Sports Day, a day dedicated to spreading awareness and supporting those affected by breast cancer. All games will be played on the same day to mark the occasion.

Forrestville Eagles v Sturt Sabres

Women:

A blockbuster in every sense of the word, the opening game of round six sees two top sides of the competition go head-to-head at Wayville Sports Centre on Saturday evening. The Eagles are yet to lose a game following their 30-point victory over the Warriors last round. Their confidence will be through the roof heading into the game, and they have the troops to keep the streak alive. Samantha Simons has had a blistering run of form, capped off by her 27 points, seven rebounds and eight assists last round. The Eagles will face some tough competition, with the Sabres entering the contest in red-hot form, winning their last four games as they ride some serious momentum into the round. A 26-point triumph over the Rockets displayed their current form, and they will fancy themselves in this matchup, despite heading in underdogs. They have plenty of avenues to score, last week it was Jade Johnson with 18, but it could be anyone on any given week.

Men:

The Sturt Sabres have been on fire lately, the only undefeated side remaining in the men’s competition after five rounds. They will be looking to make it six wins in a row, as they take on the Eagles on Saturday night. The Sabres waltzed through their round five opponents in North Adelaide, and look like they will be difficult to slow down in the near future, especially if Sam Daly keeps up his current form. The Eagles have looked promising in the 2021 season, but have lacked the consistency to stamp themselves as a powerhouse. With a record of 3-2 in their five games, they will be driven to cause an upset against the best side in the competition on Saturday. Michael Harris and Gregory May will need to be aggressive offensively to give their side a shot.

Southern Tigers v Norwood Flames

Women:

The Flames will have a tough challenge ahead of them at Morphett Vale Basketball Stadium on Saturday night, taking down the seemingly unstoppable Southern Tigers. The Flames have had an underwhelming start to the season, currently sitting at 2-3 after five rounds of basketball. They had a nice win against a weaker opponent last week, defeating the Eastern Mavericks by 15 points. They face a much tougher team this week and will need to fire on all cylinders if they are to cause an upset. Bride Kennedy-Hopoate poured in an impressive 31 points last week, so expect her Flames teammates to look for her scoring ability again. The Tigers could be about as confident as any team is in the NBL1, and rightfully so. They are 5-0 on the season with some pretty convincing wins on the board, and fresh off an 86-point demolition of the Central Districts. If they keep this form rolling, it is hard to see anyone but them winning it all at the end of the season.

Men:

Two in-form sides will clash on Saturday night, as the Tigers and the Flames look to continue their respective winning streaks. The Tigers have bounced back from a sluggish start to the season to walk away winners in their last three matchups. An 11-point win over the Central Districts Lions saw them burst up the ladder and they will be eager to do the same this weekend. Machar Machar had his best performance of the season last round with 27 crucial points and will be one to watch again. The Flames broke their losing ways a few weeks ago and have worked their way to a two-game winning streak and will need to extend this to keep up with the top teams on the ladder. A convincing 31-point triumph over the Mavericks was a promising sign, and if CJ Turnage can continue to score with ease, this will prove a tense battle.

West Adelaide Bearcats v Eastern Mavericks

Women:

Two teams in need of a win, the Bearcats and the Mavericks will do battle at Port Adelaide Recreation Centre on Saturday evening. The Mavericks have been struggling since the very beginning of the season and are yet to put any wins on the board after five rounds. Mollie McKendrick continues to battle hard with strong performances, but to no avail. The Bearcats started the season in promising fashion, winning two out of their first three matches, but have since lost two in a row and will be desperate to regain some form, an opportunity they will have this weekend. Jennie Rintala put in a dominant display last week and could do something similar this week.

Men:

The Eastern Mavericks will be desperate to surprise everyone and record their first win of the season this weekend as they take on the Bearcats on Saturday night. The Mavericks have looked off the pace all season, highlighted by round five’s 31-point loss at the hands of the Flames. If they are to grab the win this weekend, they will need to change some things up. The Bearcats will also be fighting hard for the win that could help get them back into form as the season progresses. The side won two in a row earlier in the season, but have since lost their last two games, making this clash a crucial result. Earnest Ross has shown no hesitation shooting the ball, resulting in solid scores for his side, and he should continue this.

Woodville Warriors v South Adelaide Panthers

Women:

Two sides with contrasting seasons will clash as the Woodville Warriors and the South Adelaide Panthers face off at the St Clair Recreation Centre on Saturday. The Warriors have struggled, with their only win coming in round three while losing two games either side of this. This match marks a significant opportunity to break this streak and take down a serious contender. If they are to do this, Emily Winter will need to be at her very best, and if you’ve seen her best, you’ll know it will go a long way in the Warriors’ chances. The Panthers have had a much better start to the season, with their only loss coming in round three and winning two games either side of this. They look a strong chance to take out this game with their current form.

Men:

These two sides should make for an entertaining clash as the Warriors and the Panthers go head-to-head on Saturday night. The Warriors have worked their way to a 4-1 record in the first five rounds and despite the disappointing round four loss, have looked impressive. Luke Stanbridge had a fantastic game last round with 30 points and could once again be the hot hand for his side. The Panthers have found themselves with a 3-2 record from five games, making this a crucial result to have go their way. 4-2 looks a lot better than 3-3, and a victory would move them up the ladder with the contenders.

North Adelaide Rockets v Central Districts Lions

Women:

The North Adelaide Rockets will host the Central Districts Lions at The Lights Community and Sports Centre on Saturday evening in the final game of the round for the women’s competition. The Lions have been underwhelming this season, still searching for their first win and consistently putting up low scores. The longer the season goes on, the bigger their hunger gets for a win, so this could be the drought breaker. The Rockets have showed strong signs in patches, but have ultimately been inconsistent, recording two wins and three losses on the season and not recording the same result two weeks in a row. They enter the clash as the favourites against a struggling Lions side, and with Taylor Ortlepp’s offensive ability, they could easily get their season back on track here.

Men:

This game is awfully important for both sides, as both the Rockets and the Lions will enter the match out of form on Saturday night, but for one team, the suffering will be over. The Rockets are yet to register a victory this year after five rounds, but don’t look too far off the mark. If they can remain competitive for all four quarters and if Jimma Dau can have a strong game, they will be on their way to a win. The Lions won their first game of the season, but have not backed it up with another, and currently sit on a four-game losing streak. They have their best opportunity here against the Rockets, and keep an eye out for Lual Diing, who has had a fantastic start to his 2021 campaign.

Picture credit: Kelly Barnes/AllStar Photos