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NBL1 West wrap: Round 15

WHILST other National Basketball League (NBL)1 competitions across the country were impacted by lockdowns, the NBL1 West went ahead with some thrilling contests.

Men’s:

Cockburn and Warwick played out an epic battle at the Wally Hagan Stadium on Friday night with the Cougars coming out two-point winners after the game was extended into overtime. A high scoring first quarter saw the contest headed for quarter time at 30-points apiece. Gavin Field was off to a hot start scoring 12 first quarter points himself. The teams were going shot for shot in the second quarter, before the Cougars managed to get out to a nine-point lead. A late cameo from the Senators’ Justin King, scoring seven straight points, meant his team remained in touching distance of the Cougars who led 56-52 at the main break.

The second half got started with the Senators drawing level again during the third term, but a timeout just before the midway point of the quarter sparked a 13-0 run in favour of the Cougars. They maintained their lead and took an 11-point advantage into the final break. A two-pointer by Cockburn’s Seva Chan was the only basket in the opening two minutes of the last, before a 23-8 run for the Senators put them ahead by two points inside the last 30 seconds. An unsportsmanlike foul on King saw Nicolas Pozoglou hit some clutch free throws, but Field was unable to make his three-point shot in the next play. King owed his team and he stood up hitting a big three with just nine seconds remaining, before Field hit the last shot of regulation time, a three pointer with six seconds remaining, taking the game into overtime. A tight battle eventuated in Cockburn’s Josh Hunt making the final basket of the game with 26 seconds left in overtime.

Field finished the game with 25 points (including five three pointers made) and eight rebounds, while teammates Chan (16 points, seven rebounds, nine assists) and Hunt (19 points) all played well, but from a Cougars perspective Pozoglou was dominant on both ends of the court all night. He finished the game with 24 points (10/16 field goals made) but showed his worth defensively registering a game-high 12 rebounds (10 defensive), equal game-high five steals and the most the blocks as well (four). For the Senators Caleb Davis (25 points) and Cody Ellis had strong performances, but King was the standout with 27 points, eight rebounds, five steals and the teams only block.

The Cougars made it two from two the following the night when they defeated the Willetton Tigers in a much more comfortable 20-point victory. Pozoglou was on fire again recording another 27 points (10/16 field goals made), eight rebounds, seven assists, two steals and two blocks in 23 minutes of action.

Meanwhile, Mandurah made it six straight wins after two more victories in round 15. On Saturday night they defeated the Eastern Suns by 10 points before Scott Machado took over the city on Sunday scoring 37 points in the 95-73 win against the Goldfields Giants. The Cairns Taipans star has been electric since his debut seven games ago, and it’s no coincidence the Magic find themselves in a rich vein of form since his arrival. The Suns had no luck in round 15 as they were already losers on Thursday night suffering a 15-point defeat to the first placed Lakeside Lightning. Rowan Mackenzie also feasted on the Suns scoring 35 points, and there was no stopping him as he backed it up again the following night in front of the home crowd, adding another 30 points in a dominant display from the Lightning as they defeated Joondalup by 27 points.

In an exciting finish, Geraldton’s Mathiang Muo hit a game winning three-pointer with just two seconds left on the clock to secure a 68-67 win against Perth.

ROUND 15 RESULTS:

Eastern Suns 90 def. by Lakeside Lightning 105
Perry Lakes Hawks 105 def. Willetton Tigers 88
Lakeside Lightning 106 def. Joondalup Wolves 79
Rockingham Flames 103 def. South West Slammers 67
Cockburn Cougars 104 def. Warwick Senators 102
Geraldton Buccaneers 68 def. Perth Redbacks 67
Joondalup Wolves 79 def. Perry Lakes Hawks 70
Warwick Senators 112 def. East Perth Eagles 70
Willetton Tigers 76 def. by Cockburn Cougars 96
South West Slammers 86 def. Goldfields Giants 81
Eastern Suns 75 def. by Mandurah Magic 85
Mandurah Magic 95 def. Goldfields Giants 73

Women’s:

Willetton extended its unbeaten run to seven games following victories over Perry Lakes and Cockburn. After Friday night’s road win against the Hawks, the Tigers returned home to face the Cougars at the Willetton Basketball Stadium. Samantha Lubcke scored nine first quarter points as the teams were tied on 18 at the first break. The Tigers scored another 18 points in the second term and took a two-point lead into half time. Willetton really put their foot down in the third term not only scoring 26 points themselves, but also performing strongly on the defensive end, keeping the Cougars to just 13 points for the quarter. An even final quarter was enough for the Tigers to maintain their lead and come out 79-64 winners.

Emma Gandini (12 points, eight rebounds, five steals), Desiree Kelley (16 points), Alex Sharp (eight points, 10 rebounds, six assists) all contributed to the win alongside Lubcke, who was a standout with 27 points and six rebounds. Taylah Simmons (14 points, seven rebounds, five assists) and Olivia Bassett-Scarfe (12 points, five rebounds) were the only two double digit scorers for Cockburn. Two wins in the round for Willetton keeps them one game clear on top of the ladder.

Meanwhile, second placed Joondalup Wolves also secured two wins over the weekend, keeping themselves in touching distance of first position. The Wolves won on the road against the Lightning by 23 points, before they defeated Perry Lakes 69-63 at the HBF Arena. A slow start saw the Wolves trailing by 11 points at quarter time as the Hawks had doubled their first quarter total, but a strong second and third quarter performance where they outscored Perry Lakes 42-22 proved the difference, as they were able to hold off a Hawks comeback in the final term. Neseya Parker-Williams (16 points, 12 rebounds) and Kayla Steindl (15 points, three steals) were good for the Wolves, while Mia Satie was a standout for the Hawks, scoring 22 points and collecting nine rebounds.

In other matches, a massive 20 and 20 game from Mary Goulding (25 points, 21 rebounds) led East Perth to a 10-point victory over Warwick, Carly Boag (18 points, 17 rebounds) also had a big game against the Eastern Suns, leading her Magic to a 79-61 win, and 21 points from Paris Duffield was the most for Rockingham as they also came out victorious, defeating the South West Slammers by a 23-point margin.

Women’s Round 15 Results:

Eastern Suns 75 def. by Lakeside Lightning 81
Perry Lakes Hawks 59 def. by Willetton Tigers 70
Lakeside Lightning 51 def. by Joondalup Wolves 74
Rockingham Flames 76 def. South West Slammers 53
Cockburn Cougars 67 def. by Warwick Senators 94
Joondalup Wolves 69 def. Perry Lakes Hawks 63
Warwick Senators 81 def. by East Perth Eagles 91
Willetton Tigers 79 def. Cockburn Cougars 64
Eastern Suns 61 def. by Mandurah Magic 79

 

Picture credit: June Halliday

NBL1 Women’s stats update: June 10

WITH all four National Basketball League (NBL)1 competitions well underway this season, we look at who is leading the stats in points, rebounds and assists across the board in the women’s divisions.

POINTS

CENTRAL

#1 Olivia Thompson (South Adelaide) 27.33
#2 Teige Morrell (Southern Tigers) 21.55
#3 Samantha Simons (Forestville Eagles) 21.22
#4 Ashley Spencer (South Adelaide) 20.22

NORTH

#1 Amanda Johnson (SWM Pirates) 29.0
#2 Stephanie Reid (Townsville Flames) 28.0
#3 Kathleen MacLeod (SC Phoenix) 22.6
#4 Mikaela Ruef (Logan Thunder) 22.4

SOUTH

#1 Keely Froling (Launceston Tornadoes) 33.85
#2 Emma Mahady (Albury-Wodonga Bandits) 23.87
#3 Jenna O’Hea (Sandringham Sabres) 23.71
#4 Mariah Payne (Launceston Tornadoes) 22.8

WEST

#1 Samantha Lubcke (Willetton Tigers) 24.25
#2 Makailah Dyer (Perth Redbacks) 22.0
#3 Alex Sharp (Willetton Tigers) 21.50
#4 Tayah Burrows (Rockingham Flames) 20.42

ASSISTS

CENTRAL

#1 Jordan Hunter (South Adelaide) 9.77
#2 Alex Wilson (Norwood Flames) 5.62
#3 Mollie McKendrick (Eastern Mavericks) 5.44
#4 Taylor Ortlepp (North Adelaide) 4.77

NORTH

#1 Rachael McCully (SC Phoenix) 8.8
#2 Myra Donkin (Cairns Dolphins) 7.8
#3 Kathleen MacLeod (SC Phoenix) 7.8
#4 Mikaela Cann (Logan Thunder) 7.4

SOUTH

#1 Tessa Lavey (Frankston Blues) 7.66
#2 Tess Madgen (Bendigo Braves) 6.57
#3 Amy O’Neill (Sandringham Sabres) 5.71
#4 Monique Conti (Melbourne Tigers) 5.66

WEST

#1 Maddison Allen (Perth Redbacks) 5.85
#2 Tayah Burrows (Rockingham Flames) 5.42
#3 Nicole Jorre de St Jorre (Warwick Senators) 5.0
#4 Alex Sharp (Willetton Tigers) 5.0

REBOUNDS

CENTRAL

#1 Olivia Thompson (South Adelaide) 13.11
#2 Jess Good (North Adelaide) 12.55
#3 Mollie McKendrick (Eastern Mavericks) 10.88
#4 Emily Winter (Woodville Warriors) 10.77

NORTH

#1 Mikaela Ruef (Logan Thunder) 17.8
#2 Cayla George (Mackay Meteorettes) 17.25
#3 Amanda Johnson (SWM Pirates) 16.0
#4 Lara McSpadden (Rockhampton Cyclones) 12.83

SOUTH

#1 Anneli Maley (Eltham Wildcats) 24.62
#2 Keely Froling (Launceston Tornadoes) 17.71
#3 Alicia Froling (Ballarat Rush) 15.14
#4 Kelsey Griffin (Launceston Tornadoes) 13.4

WEST

#1 Alex Sharp (Willetton Tigers) 13.5
#2 Maddison Allen (Perth Redbacks) 11.57
#3 Carly Boag (Mandurah Magic) 11.14
#4 Mary Goulding (East Perth Eagles) 11.0

Picture credit: NBL1

NBL1 West wrap: Round 5

THE National Basketball League (NBL)1 West competition was back to its full strength in the third round of action. Whilst technically Round 5 due to the two-week hiatus following the West Australian lockdown, the most recent weekend of play featured more games than the return Round 4.

WOMEN’S:

Perth Redbacks (82) def. East Perth Eagles (71)

Perth Redbacks bounced back from a loss last game to hold on and defeat East Perth Eagles at home by 11 points. A strong first half was credited with the Redbacks’ win, putting up 48 points to 31, and whilst the Eagles won the second half by six, it was a case of too little, too late and the home team got up, 82-71. Maddison Allen racked up a huge double-double of 10 points and 18 rebounds – 13 defensive – for the Redbacks, while Makailah Dyer (19 points, five rebounds and three assists) and Jessica Jakens (14 points, seven rebounds and three assists) were also productive in the win. Mary Teresa Goulding top-scored in the game for the Eagles with 23 points, 13 rebounds, seven assists and five steals, while Opal Mader (15 points, 13 rebounds, two assists and two steals) picked up a double-double, and Tahlia Fedjo recorded 15 points and two rebounds.

Warwick Senators (72) def. by Joondalup Wolves (78)

In the first of two victories for the Joondalup Wolves over the weekend, the visitors handed the Warwick Senators their second loss of the season. The Wolves won the first three quarters to hold a 12-point advantage after three quarters, and whilst the Senators won the final term 18-12, it was not enough to overturn the result and Joondalup won 78-72. Kayla Steindl was a clear best-on with 28 points, eight rebounds and three steals for the Wolves, aided well by Amber Land (12 points, nine rebounds and six assists) and Neseya Parker-Williams (11 points, 12 rebounds). Stacey Barr lead the way for the Senators with 17 points, seven rebounds and three assists, Tayla Hepburn (10 points, 10 rebounds and two assists) picked up a double-double, while Chloe Forster (15 points, eight rebounds) was also lively.

Joondalup Wolves (69) def. Mandurah Magic (44)

Joondalup Wolves went back-to-back with a win over Mandurah Magic to make it four consecutive victories to open the NBL1 West season. The Wolves took control from the get-go and won every quarter, with the first (21-11) and fourth (17-9) quarters being particularly dominant on their way to a 25-point victory, 69-44. Land topped the scoring charts with a double-double of 14 points, 11 rebounds and four steals, while Steindl (10 points, six rebounds, three assists, three blocks and two steals) and Georgia Denehey (10 points, two rebounds and two assists) were among the key contributors in the Wolves’ win. Casey Mihovilovich (16 points, three rebounds, three steals and two assists) was the dominant Magic shooter, while Serika Shillingsworth (eight points) was the next best.

Willetton Tigers (80) def. Perry Lakes Hawks (55)

Willetton Tigers easily accounted for Perry Lakes Hawks, winning all four quarters by at least four points in each term to record an 80-55 victory. The Tigers won by eight, four, eight and five points in each of the respective quarters, in order to post a 25-point win at Willetton Basketball Stadium. Samantha Lubcke was the clear dominant shooter putting up 26 points and seven rebounds, though best-on had to go to Alex Sharp who managed a double-double of 16 points and 20 rebounds – nine offensive – as well as seven assists. Desiree Kelly (16 points, seven rebounds and three assists) and Emma Gandini (14 points, six rebounds and three steals) were the other prominent scorers for the Tigers. Morgan Ballantyne had the 11 points, three assists and two rebounds, while Natalie Burton (10 points, eight rebounds, two assists and two steals) and Megan McKay (seven points, seven rebounds and four steals) were other prominent Hawks.

Lakeside Lightning (98) def. South West Slammers (48)

There was no reprieve for the South West Slammers in yet another big loss, this time to Lakeside Lightning who broke through for their first win of the year following back-to-back losses. The Lightning put the foot down from the first tip-off piling on 46 points to 20 in the opening half, then 52 points to 28 in the second half to run out 50-point winners, 98-48. Lakeside’s Emma Clarke (22 points, seven rebounds, three assists, three blocks and two steals) was the clear standout, while Mikayla Pirini (17 points, four rebounds, four assists and three steals), Savannah Coleman (16 points, nine rebounds and three steals) and Jae Flynn (15 points, seven assists and three rebounds) were all impressive in the huge victory. Cian Parsons (23 points, 15 rebounds and two assists) racked up a massive double-double in the loss to be a lone hand up front, as Skye Palmer was next best with eight points, three assists and two rebounds.

Eastern Suns (45) def. by Cockburn Cougars (63)

Cockburn Cougars continued their winning run with a third consecutive victory to open the season, defeating Eastern Suns by 18 points. The Cougars won each quarter, but it was the third (17-6) that was the big difference in the end, with the 13-point differential there ultimately leading to the low-scoring 63-45 triumph on the road. Jessie Edwards (25 points, 12 rebounds, two assists and two blocks) was impressive with a double-double for the Cougars, while Taylah Simmons (15 points, five assists and four rebounds) and Molly Mathews (six points, 11 rebounds, two assists and two steals) were also lively. For the Suns, Jewel Williams top-scored with 14 points, as well as five rebounds and two steals, while Courtney Mansfield (nine points, four rebounds) and Mia Jacobs (nine points, five rebounds and two assists) tried hard.

Eastern Suns (71) def. by Willetton Tigers (98)

Willetton Tigers handed Eastern Suns back-to-back losses in Round 5 thanks to a strong first and third terms on their way to a big 27-point victory. The Tigers piled on 34 points to 22 in the first term, and then 30-10 in the third, to build an unassailable lead. The Suns cut the deficit back by six in the last term, but the damage was done and the Tigers got up, 98-71. Lubcke had a day out wiht 37 points, 10 rebounds and two assists, while Sharp also picked up a double-double of 20 points, 12 rebounds and seven assists. Kelley (12 points, seven rebounds and three assists) and Gandini (11 points, nine rebounds and two assists were other important players once again. For the Suns, Williams had a team-high 18 points with three rebounds, while Rebecca Motroni (15 points, two assists) and Mansfield (11 points, four rebounds, four assists and two steals) worked hard across the four quarters.

MEN’S:

Perth Redbacks (79) def. East Perth Eagles (65)

Perth Redbacks have accounted for East Perth Eagles in both the first and third quarters by a combined 19 points which proved the difference between the sides during the Redbacks’ 14-point victory at home. The Eagles rallied in the second term to come close at half-time, but a strong second half resulted in the Redbacks securing the 79-65 win. Louis Timms top-scored with 22 points, seven rebounds and two assists, whilst Isaac Gattorna-Hargrave (20 points, 10 rebounds and two blocks) and Tevin Jackson (17 points, nine rebounds and two assists) were other top performers on the day. Mitch Benger (15 points, six rebounds and four assists) and Logan Thwaites (15 points, five rebounds) were the key scorers for the Eagles, while Andrej Donlagic (nine points, seven rebounds, four assists and two steals) was also well-balanced across the court.

Warwick Senators (100) def. Joondalup Wolves (78)

The clash of the two unbeaten sides went the way of the home team, as Warwick Senators claimed an impressive 22-point win over Joondalup Wolves. The Senators trailed by three points at half-time, but then dominated the second half by knocking down 60 points to 35 and running away with the 100-78 victory. Justin King (28 points, nine rebounds and three assists) was best-on for the Senators, while Cody Ellis (20 points, seven rebounds, six assists and five steals) and Caleb Davis (15 points, six assists and five rebounds) worked hard. For the Wolves, Lochlan Cummings managed the 17 points, five rebounds, three steals and two assists, while Jacob Formosa (15 points, six rebounds and four assists) and Trian Iliadis (12 points, three rebounds and two assists) also reached double-figure points in the match.

Geraldton Buccaneers (85) def. Rockingham Flames (82)

After losing last week, Geraldton Buccaneers bounced back with a narrow win over Rockingham Flames. The home team held a narrow three-point lead at half-time and six-point lead at three quarter time, and whilst the Flames stuck with them until the end, the home team held on to win by three points, 85-82. Mathiang Muo did not miss a minute of action with 34 points, five rebounds, three assists and three steals, while Aaron Ralph (16 points, 12 rebounds, two assists and two steals) picked up a double-double. Mathew Wundenberg (11 points, seven rebounds, three assists and two steals) and Taine Wattie (11 points, four assists, two rebounds and two steals) were others who stepped up to the plate. The Flames had their fare share of points scorers in the win, with Travis Durnin (18 points, nine rebounds), Callum Beard (17 points, seven rebounds and three assists) and Greg Hire (14 points, 12 rebounds and three assists) all prominent.

Joondalup Wolves (110) def. Mandurah Magic (104)

They needed overtime to get it done, but the Joondalup Wolves bounced back from a loss the night before to post a six-point thrilling win over Mandurah Magic. The Wolves trailed by five points at quarter time and seven at the half, before closing down that lead to be level at the final buzzer. A strong 16-10 overtime period resulted in the Wolves getting up 110-104 in a classic contest. Cummings did not miss a minute with 45 minutes on court for 29 points, five rebounds and three assists, including five of 10 from three-point range. Iliadis (20 points, six steals, four assists and three rebounds), Robert Huntington (20 points, four rebounds and two assists) and Jonathan Wade (16 points, seven rebounds, two assists and two steals) were all impressive. Jerami Grace was the top points scorer for the Magic with 25, as well as five assists and four rebounds, while Fred Williams (12 points, five assists and four rebounds) and Xavier Garnett-Shaw (16 points, nine rebounds and two assists) were also solid despite the narrow defeat.

East Perth Eagles (73) def. by Goldfields Giants (86)

A fast start by Goldfields Giants has helped the visitors post a 13-point win over East Perth Eagles, the Eagles’ second loss of the weekend. The Giants poured on 26 points to 12 in the opening term and lead by 15 points at half-time. While the Eagles did hit back in the third quarter, the Giants steadied in the last to secure the 86-73 victory. Tom Atkinson (19 points, seven rebounds) top-scored for the Giants, while Julian Pesava (10 points, 10 rebounds and three assists) secured a double-double, and Cooper Creek (seven points, 13 rebounds and five blocks) put on a defensive show. Jarrad Anastasio (16 points, 11 rebounds, three blocks and two steals) was the dominant player for the Eagles, with Thwaites (17 points, eight rebounds) and Junior Tshikele (14 points, four assists and three rebounds) also among the top scorers.

Willetton Tigers (68) def. by Perry Lakes Hawks (86)

Perry Lakes Hawks stepped up to produce a four-quarter effort and knock off Willetton Tigers by 18 points on the road. The Hawks won every quarter, with a 14-point differential in the second half the main catalyst to the 86-68 triumph. Lewis Thomas (23 points, eight rebounds and four assists) was the dominant scorer, while Ben Purser (11 points, eight assists, five rebounds and two steals) and Andrew Ferguson (11 points, seven rebounds and two assists) were also impressive. Damien Scott put up 24 points, five rebounds, two assists and two steals, as Michael Vigor (10 points, 11 rebounds) had a double-double, and Hunter Clarke (10 points, three rebounds) also managed double-figure points for the Tigers.

Lakeside Lightning (121) def. South West Slammers (52)

There was no mercy for cellar dwellers South West Slammers during Lakeside Lightning’s smashing 69-point win. Scoring at least 28 points in every quarter, and keeping the Slammers to 14 points or less in three of the the quarters with the end result being a 121-52 win in favour of the Lightning. Corey Shervill top-scored with 25 points, six rebounds, three assists and two steals, whilst Jarrad Prue racked up a huge double-double of 14 points, 17 rebounds – seven offensive – three steals and two blocks, and both Kyle Armour (18 points, six assists, three steals and two rebounds) and Jack Isenbarger (18 points, four rebounds, four assists and four steals) were also standouts in the win. Caleb Van De Griend (21 points, seven rebounds, two steals and two blocks) was the key playmaker in the heavy defeat, while Ngor Nai had the 12 points, five rebounds, four assists and two steals in the Slammers’ loss.

Eastern Suns (94) def. by Cockburn Cougars (115)

Cockburn Cougars picked up their first win of the season in the first of two games over the weekend, knocking off Eastern Suns by 21 points at Ray Owen Sports Centre. The Cougars trailed by five points at half-time but then destroyed the Suns in the second half, adding as much as 69 points to 43 – including a 38-17 final stanza – to win 115-94. Gavin Field (22 points, nine rebounds and five assists) was prolific, as Nic Pozoglou (16 points, 12 rebounds, four assists and three blocks) picked up a double-double, and the likes of Josh Hunt (19 points, six rebounds), Jaarod Holmes (16 points, six rebounds, and two assists) and Seva Chan (16 points, six assists and two rebounds) were all strong. Chris Johnson (30 points, four rebounds and four steals), Chuatwech Reath (22 points, four steals) and Ryan Blanchett (21 points, seven rebounds) were the triple threat on the scoring front for the Suns in defeat.

Cockburn Cougars (88) def. Goldfields Giants (74)

Going back-to-back in Round 5, the Cougars have built momentum with a second win, and a first one at home this season, defeating Goldfields Giants by 14 points. The Cougars trailed by two points at quarter time, but won the last three quarters – the second by 10 points – to secure the 88-74 victory. Pozoglou was the dominant scorer with a double-double of 24 points, 16 rebounds, four assists, three steals and two blocks, while Chan (11 points, seven assists three rebounds and two steals) and Kye Chamberlain (nine points, eight rebounds) were also impressive throughout the game. Pesava (26 points, eight rebounds and three assists) and Atkinson (16 points, two rebounds and two steals) were again the prime movers for the Giants in Round 5, while Fletcher Klasztorny (seven points, eight rebounds and three assists) also impressed.

Eastern Suns (77) def. by Willetton Tigers (103)

Willetton Tigers have handed Eastern Suns back-to-back losses with a dominant 26-point triumph on Sunday. The Tigers eclipsed the Suns early with a 57-34 opening half, and whilst the Suns were more competitive in the second half – only conceding three more points than their own – they still suffered a 103-77 defeat. Clarke (21 points, five rebounds, two assists and two steals) and Connor Mincherton (20 points, eight rebounds, six assists and two steals) combined for some big numbers, whilst Vigor (14 points, 15 rebounds and four assists) picked up a double-double, and Scott (16 points, four assists and three rebounds) also impressed. Corey Easley had the 17 points, four rebounds and three assists for the Suns, while Johnson (12 points, eight rebounds, four assists, three steals and two blocks) and Blanchett (12 points, three rebounds and two assists) were the next highest points scorers.

Picture credit: Michael Farnell / Sports Imagery

2021 NBL1 West wrap: Round 4

AFTER a fortnight off due to various State Government restrictions, the National Basketball League (NBL)1 West competition tipped off for Round 4 and some teams made their entrance into the new competition, whilst others established themselves with big wins or heavy losses.

WOMEN’S:

Mandurah Magic (50) def. by Cockburn Cougars (71)

Cockburn Cougars made it back-to-back wins to tip-off the season, taking care of Mandurah Magic by 21 points. The Cougars dominated the first half to race out to a 24-point lead, and that went out to 28 by the break, before a low-scoring 13-point final term resulted in Cockburn getting the job done 71-50. Jessie Edwards led the way for the winners with 14 points, four assists, two rebounds and two steals, as Taylah Simmons (13 points, three rebounds, three assists and two steals) and Olivia Bassett-Scarfe (12 points, five rebounds) were also busy. Serika Shillingsworth was the only double-digit Magic scorer with 13 points, two rebounds and two steals, while Casey Mihovilovich finished with seven points, five assists, five steals and three rebounds.

Warwick Senators (111) def. South West Slammers (32)

Warwick Senators showed no mercy to a struggling South West Slammers, dominating every quarter on their way to a 79-point shellacking. The Senators piled on at least 25 points in every quarter, and kept the Slammers to single-digits in three of the four terms during the 111-32 victory. Stacey Barr (24 points, 10 rebounds and three assists) and Mackenzie Clinch Hoycard (24 points, 10 rebounds, four assists and six steals) top-scored with double-doubles, as Tayla Hepburn (17 points, 12 rebounds, five blocks, two assists and two steals) also racked up a double-double. Zaya Lilly Black (nine points, four rebounds and two steals) was the prominent scorer for the Slammers, while Imogen Van Iaere finished with five points and seven rebounds in the match.

Lakeside Lightning (75) def. by East Perth Eagles (80)

East Perth Eagles won a tight one on the road over Lakeside Lightning, getting up by just the five points. The Eagles led by 14 points at half-time before the home team hit back to cut the deficit over the second half. Unfortunately for Lakeside, the Lightning just fell short, going down 75-80. Mary Teresa Goulding had 26 points, seven rebounds, four steals and two assists, while Opal Mader (17 points, six rebounds) and Tahlia Fejo (14 points, seven rebounds and six steals) were also prominent. For the Lightning, Ashleigh Isenbarger was a clear standout with 21 points, 12 rebounds, three assists and four steals, while Emma Clarke (16 points, eight rebounds, four assists and three steals), and Mikayla Pirini (11 points, four assists and two rebounds) were also busy.

Rockingham Flames (85) def. Willetton Tigers (72)

Rockingham Flames’ dominant third quarter of 27-11 has helped kick the home team into gear for a big 13-point win over Willeton Tigers. The Flames trailed by a point at half-time, but took control in the third term, and while the Tigers managed to win the last quarter, the damage was done and Rockingham took home the win, 85-72. Jorjah Smith (20 points, five rebounds) and Tayah Burrows (19 points, four assists, three rebounds and two steals) both had some prominent scores, while Christina Boag (12 points, eight rebounds and three assists) also impressed. For the Tigers, Alex Sharp shot 24 points and picked up 14 rebounds and four assists, as Samantha Lubcke (16 points, eight rebounds and two assists) and Hayley Winter (15 points, four rebounds and three assists) also shared the load.

Perth Redbacks (70) def. by Perry Lakes Hawks (74)

Making their long-awaited return into the season after byes and lockdowns, Perry Lakes Hawks got off to the perfect start with a four-point victory over Perth Redbacks. The Hawks did most of their work in the first half, racing out to a seven-point lead at half-time, with the teams fairly evenly matched in the second half, and the Redbacks cutting the final deficit back by three for a 74-70 result. Madeleine Dennis scored 22 points, 12 rebounds and three assists in a starring role, teaming up well with Megan McKay (21 points, nine rebounds, three steals and two assists), while Natalie Burton had the eight points, eight rebounds, two assists and two steals. Makailah Dyer finished with 23 points, six assists and three steals for the losers, while Jessica Jakens had 19 points and 13 rebounds, and Raya Thompson the 12 points, three steals and two rebounds.

Joondalup Wolves (78) def. Eastern Suns (65)

Joondalup Wolves made it two wins on the trot in the NBL1 West, handing the Eastern Suns a defeat in the Suns’ first game for the season. The Wolves started strongly to lead by four points at quarter time, only for the visitors to turn it on in the second and race out to a commanding seven-point advantage. The Suns came out after half-time with renewed vigour to dominate the second half 48-28 and run out 13-point winners, 78-65. Kayla Steindl had a team-high 24 points and 14 rebounds, as well as two assists and two steals, whilst Neseya Parker-Williams (12 points, four rebounds, four assists and two steals) and Amber Land (11 points, nine rebounds and two assists) were also among the best for the Wolves. Jewell Williams was a shooting machine for the Suns, dropping seven of 11 triples on the opposition, for 32 points, four rebounds and two assists while Courtney Mansfield was impactful across the court with 13 points, nine rebounds, six assists and two steals in the loss.

South West Slammers (39) def. by Rockingham Flames (80)

Rockingham Flames made it a good weekend of NBL1 action and compacted more pain onto the struggling South West Slammers with a dominant 41-point victory. The Flames kept the Slammers to single-digit points in the last three quarters, and whilst they only scored 10 themselves in the final term, had secured the win and enable heavy rotations in the process during the 80-39 win. Burrows dropped 28 points, eight rebounds, six assists and four steaks in the win, with Boag (15 points, nine rebounds, three steals and two assists) and Alexandra Ciabattoni (14 points four rebounds, five assists and two steals) also outstanding. Black had another impressive outing in tough circumstances for the Slammers, putting up 11 points and six rebounds, while Karinda Farrant had 10 points, three rebounds and three steals.

MEN’S:

Joondalup Wolves (84) def. Eastern Suns (61)

Coming from three points down at half-time, the Joondalup Wolves finished on a wave of momentum to easily account for Eastern Suns in the Suns’ first match of the season. The Wolves won by 23 points, courtesy of a 50-24 second half which saw them take complete control and win 84-61. Lochlan Cummings scored 20 points – including four of nine from long-range – three assists and two rebounds in the win, while Jonathan Wade (18 points, 13 rebounds, three assists and two steals) and Sioeli Vaiangina (13 points, 10 rebounds) both picked up double-doubles. Chauatwech Reath had a team-high 14 points, while Chris Johnson (11 points, 12 rebounds, two assists and two steals) and Bang Majok (11 points, three rebounds) also hit double-figure points.

Perth Redbacks (51) def. by Perry Lakes Hawks (96)

Perry Lakes Hawks doubled their win tally with a comprehensive 45-point smashing of Perth Redbacks, handing the Redbacks their second consecutive loss to open the season. The Hawks won every quarter, including three of them by at least 12 points or move, to run out 96-51 victors in the end. Mitchell Clarke knocked down 22 points with three rebounds, while Ben Purser (14 points, 10 rebounds and three assists) and Robert Cassir (nine points, nine rebounds, two assists and two steals) were also lively. Lewis Thomas had 15 points, four rebounds and three assists, and Andrew Ferguson made it a really consistent five with nine points, seven rebounds, three assists and two blocks. For the Redbacks, Louis Timms (15 points, six rebounds and two steals) and Joel Wagner (12 points, four rebounds and two assists) were both hard workers in defeat, while Lachlan Bertram (seven points, eight rebounds) got involved off the boards.

Mandurah Magic (88) def. Cockburn Cougars (81)

Mandurah Magic bounced back from a loss in their previous game to move to a 2-1 record and hand Cockburn Cougars their second consecutive loss in a tight seven-point encounter. Mandurah trailed by five points at quarter time and four points at half-time, but then piled on 28-19 in the third term to set up a memorable 88-81 win. Jerami Grace had a night out for the Magic with 33 points – six of nine from three-point range – six rebounds and four steals, while Xavier Garnett-Shaw had 15 point, six rebounds and two assist, and both Ben Smith (12 points, 11 rebounds) and Brian Carlwell (15 points, five rebounds) were prominent in the win. Jaarod Holmes (23 points, five rebounds and three steals) was the best for the Cougars, while Gavin Field (15 points, five rebounds, three assists and two steals) and Nic Pozoglou (15 points, six rebounds, four steals and two assists) were also impressive in defeat.

Goldfields Giants (103) def. Geraldton Buccaneers (69)

In a battle of two Round 1 losers, Goldfield Giants got on the board with a comfortable 34-point win over Geraldton Buccaneers at home. The Giants won every quarter, and did their best work in the opening half, smashing their opponents in the second term in particular with a 35-13 quarter, eventually leading to an easy 103-69 victory. Deng Kuany (28 points, six rebounds and two steals) and Julian Pesava (25 points, seven rebounds and four assists) did the bulk of the damage for the Giants, while Jerome Reid chipped in with 19 points – five of eight from long-range – and three rebounds. Taine Wattie stood up for the Buccaneers with 19 points – five of eight from three-point range – and two assists, while Mathiang Muo (12 points, 13 rebounds and three assists) collected a double-double and Tomas Dobson (13 points, three rebounds and two assists) also hit double-figure points.

Warwick Senators (96) def. South West Slammers (60)

Warwick Senators turned up the heat on the South West Slammers, running away with a 36-point win. The home team won every quarter in the match, and two of the terms by 11 points, on their way to a 96-60 triumph. Caleb Davis helped himself to 20 points, four rebounds and three assists in the win, whilst Justin King (18 points, four rebounds and two assists) and Cody Ellis (15 points, six rebounds, two assists and two blocks) were also impressive for the Senators. Ngor Nai (15 points, 10 rebounds and three blocks) and Cody Hill (14 points, five rebounds and four assists) both did the majority of the scoring for the Slammers, in what was another big loss.

Lakeside Lightning (121) def. East Perth Eagles (60)

Speaking of big wins, Lakeside Lightning showed no mercy against East Perth Eagles to get on the board in season 2021, smashing the Eagles by 61 points. In front of home fans on Saturday night, the Lightning piled on 99 points in the first three quarters as the Eagles only managed the 44 in that time. The final term was a little closer, but the 121-60 result was a huge percentage booster for the Lightning. Corey Shervill (29 points, six rebounds and two assists) and Jack Isenbarger (29 points, three assists and two rebounds) combined for 15 of 20 from three-point range in a long-range shooting spectacular. Kyle Armour (19 points, eight assists) was a key playmaker for the Lightning, while Jarrad Prue only had the two points, but racked up 17 rebounds – eight offensive – along with three assists and two blocks on the night. Matt Vinci (nine points, three rebounds) and Isaac Offereins (nine points, four rebounds) were the equal top scorers for the losers.

Rockingham Flames (65) def. Willetton Tigers (83)

Willetton Tigers survived a mini fightback by Rockingham Flames to secure an 18-point win on the road in a battle of two undefeated 2-0 sides. The Tigers raced out to a 50-27 lead at half-time, though the Flames cut the deficit to six by the next change, only for Willetton to stand up under pressure and win the final term 14-12 and secure the 83-65 victory. Damien Scott (25 points, five steals, five rebounds, three assists and two blocks) did a bit of everything on court, while Michael Vigor picked up a double-double through 24 points and 12 rebounds. Andrew Black (11 points, six rebounds and three assists) was also prominent for the Tigers. Brendan Redhead (17 points, three rebounds) was the chief scorer for the Tigers, as Cirkook Makuac Riak (12 points, nine rebounds and two assists) and Travis Dumin (11 points, nine rebounds) also had a say off the boards in the game.

South West Slammers (52) def. by Rockingham Flames (91)

Coming off a defeat the night before, Rockingham Flames set the Eaton Rec Centre alight with a dominant 91-52 victory on the road against South West Slammers. The home team was no match for the red-hot Flames, as Rockingham won every quarter, including a 46-21 second half to run away with the 39-point win and sentence the Slammers to their fifth straight loss. Makuac Riak had 20 points, 11 rebounds and two assists, while Dumin (17 points, eight rebounds) and Callum Beard (11 points, seven rebounds, two assists and two steals) were also prominent. Hill (18 points, two rebounds) and Rhys Barrett (10 points, two rebounds and two assists) hit double-figure points, as Mitchell Keller proved a menace off the boards with 13 rebounds to go with six points and two assists for the Slammers.

Picture credit: Eric Paul Goldie

WNBL20 Season Review – Perth Lynx

THE WNBL for the second straight season has found itself with a clear top four and clear last four in the standings and for the second straight season, Perth Lynx has found themselves in a low-lying position on the WNBL ladder, finishing seventh. Lynx struggled to get going throughout the season with an unappealing record of four wins and nine losses.

While the last-minute season cancellations of Sami Whitcomb and Maddie Allen caused a seismic shift amongst Ryan Petrik’s roster, a number of individuals needed to step up this season and while the results were less favourable than most, plenty of Perth’s players emerged out of WNBL20 better for it.

Thanks to a glacial start to the season in their opening game, going down to Townsville Fire 48-73, and just missing out by five points to the Adelaide Lightning to end the opening round, Perth had already found themselves on the back-foot to begin the season.

Perth’s start to the season became inherently worse, when they encountered a third consecutive loss this time at the hands of the Melbourne Boomers. Following some drastic moves, finally, the Lynx were able to get their name into the winner’s column during their second game of Round 2. While the meaning of the win was expected and rather minimal, it was a win nevertheless against the Bendigo Spirit and the Western Australian side now had something to work with heading in to the second half of the season.

Eight games into WNBL20, Perth found themselves in a rather unremarkable position with a record of one win and seven losses, practically conceding a bottom-four position by this stage. But the Lynx had other ideas entirely for Round 4 raising significant questions on whether they are perhaps better than their final ladder position would suggest.

Despite having just, a slightly better record than Bendigo, Perth convincingly worked over the Spirit for a second time and removed all doubt that they were at a similar level in terms of talent. However, it was their next two contests that the Lynx started to turn some heads.

Backed up by Katie Ebzery and Darcee Garbin’s impressive double-doubles on the night, Perth knocked off a red-hot Townsville Fire by nine points. Following this, the in-form squad managed to fend off the Adelaide Lightning by just a single basket, capping off back-to-back-to-back victories in their first winning streak of the season, re-establishing some honour in the club and their win-loss record.

The Lynx’s brief run of victories would end at three, following a narrow loss to the Sydney Uni Flames, which preceded a season-concluding loss in their final clash of the season against a dominant Boomers outfit.

While finishing seventh at the end of the season with a record of four wins from 13 outings seems quite disappointing, many will be left to ponder “what if?”, regarding the absences of Whitcomb and Allen.

Nevertheless, it was not all doom and gloom after the side’s final game, as Ebzery earned herself a coveted position in the ALL-WNBL First Team for a second season in a row (third of her career). Ebzery completed her stellar season with flying colours averaging 18 points, four rebounds and 3.8 assists, shooting a ridiculous 43.1 per cent from the field – a shoe-in for the Opals squad next year.

Another Opal to be reckoned with was Garbin, who led the team in minutes per game with 33.4. Adding to this, Garbin ranked second in points (16.5), total rebounds (94), blocks per game (0.9) and steals (1.2) throughout her side’s roster. Next to her in the frontcourt was a surprise standout in Alex Sharp, who led the side in rebounds with 7.9 boards per game and ranked fourth in scoring, averaging 8.9 points.

Coach Petrik might not look too fondly on the fact that he finished seventh in his first season as head coach, but the fact that the difference between seventh and fifth was only a single win, means the Lynx might not have too much improving to do. With a full roster next season and the right combination of rotations, we can look forward to Perth providing some quality outings in 2021.

Melbourne weathers the Lightning, 21-point victory over Adelaide

AFTER their 76-55 win over the Adelaide Lightning, an impressive Melbourne Boomers roster has regained the third seed in the WNBL standings to kick off the fifth and final round of the season. The win also sets the tone for the rest of their final week with two more games still yet to be decided for one of the competition’s favourites.

Melbourne looked to do damage early, following a triple from Ashleigh Karaitiana on the opening play. However, Ally Wilson answered back with a mid-range jumper of her own to commence proceedings in Cairns.

Trading buckets early, both sides put up consistent numbers for the majority of the first quarter and remained within earshot of one another in that time. But a 10-0 run from the Boomers, allowed the purple and gold to take a superior stance with a double-digit advantage early in the game.

A three-pointer off the inbound pass to Cayla George would drop, as the opening quarter buzzer went off, giving Melbourne a huge 17-point lead at the first break. Now being down 14-31, Adelaide head coach Chris Lucas pleaded with his side to make some changes and talk to one another for the remainder of the contest, a focus point that would do little good.

Despite holding a 20-point buffer approaching the second intermission, the Lightning were able to construct a 7-0 scoring run of their own to ultimately win the second term exclusively, narrowly cutting the deficit to 13 at halftime.

The Lightning’s main issue to address at half-time was George’s accuracy, as she converted 66 per cent of her shots (compared to her team’s 48 per cent) which translated to 14 points, seven rebounds and a couple of assists up to the halftime stoppage. Meanwhile, Stephanie Talbot was accumulating statistics as per usual, with 10 points and four rebounds for her side after 20 minutes.

The efforts in the third quarter from the likes of Ezi Magbegor, Maddie Garrick and Kalani Purcell was enough to maintain a lead over 10 points at the conclusion of the period, but Adelaide’s efforts in the middle quarters was enough to keep the Boomers within striking range with just 10 minutes left to play, especially with sharpshooters Abbey Wehrung and Taylor Ortlepp starting to find their range.

To the Lightning’s credit they worked their way to just an 11-point defici early in the fourth, but Guy Molloy’s roster depth grounded down a struggling Adelaide side, piling on and continually enlarging the lead for the remainder of the meeting.

A massive credit to their work inside the paint, the Boomers totalled 42 points in the key which completely dwindled the Lightning’s 16 points in this area of the game. Such a difference in an extremely important facet of the contest ultimately led to Melbourne’s convincing 21-point win and bumped up the side to third in the WNBL standings as a result.

One of the by-products of Melbourne’s dominance inside the key was their resulting 45 per cent shooting overall, and with Adelaide barely making a quarter of their total attempts (27 per cent) the Boomers made the most of their passing, out assisting the Lightning 25 to 12.

Perfectly fitting for the veteran and future hall of famer, George’s double-double effort (22 points, 11 rebounds and four assists) led the way from start to finish for her side. While supporting frontcourt acts on the night like Magbegor (14 points and 10 rebounds) and Purcell (11 points, nine rebounds and four assists) made her job a little easier in securing the side’s eighth win of the campaign.

Unsurprisingly it was the Lightning’s main two threats that were the team’s only double-digit producers on the scoreboard, with Wilson accumulating 14 points on the night, along with three rebounds and two assists, whereas Talbot finished with 11 points and six rebounds – a more quiet outing than usual for the MVP candidate.

While Adelaide has essentially lost their ability to make a run at the postseason, they need to recover quickly if they are to bounce back tomorrow and topple the Bendigo Spirit, as more of the team’s secondary unit will have extended runs in the last round of the fixture. For the Boomers, they will look to consolidate a precarious third seed when they face off with the Spirit two days later, in what will be a favourable matchup for the title contenders.

Flames snatch victory from Lynx AND halt Perth’s winning streak 

Pic: WNBL

WITH neither the Sydney Uni Flames or the Perth Lynx eligible for the WNBL Finals, it did not stop both sides from playing with a sense of urgency and determination when they collided in the second of last night’s two games, as the former escaped with the win by a mere three points, 71-68.

In the infancy stages of Tuesday’s closer, both teams were able to display formidable tactics defensively throughout the first 10 minutes of play. Evidently this was the case purely based on the fact that both sides would only combine for 23 points, with Perth harbouring the narrow 13-10 lead heading into the first break.

The subsequent quarter to follow proved fruitless in terms of one team taking control over the game, as the Flames outscored the Lynx 20-19 in a more offence-filled second period, putting the half time deficit at just two points.

But with both teams shooting the ball at a rather poor rate, it seemed like just a matter of time before one of the two sides would start to get going. Nevertheless, Flames’ center Lauren Scherf was rejecting the status quo in those regards, compiling 12 points and five rebounds on 44 per cent shooting in her productive first half. Meanwhile, no Perth players on the other side managed to get quite as hot in the first half as Scherf, but Katie Ebzery gave it a red-hot crack with seven points of her own.

Ebzery continued her efforts on the scorecard, doubling her totals in the next 10 minutes while Sydney Uni continued to hang in there and close the distance. With rebounding superstar Anneli Maley continuing her dominance on the glass, as well as 150-gamer Nat Burton and Alison Schwagmeyer providing supplementary supports elsewhere, Katrina Hibbert’s side found themselves a single point the lesser at the final break, 45-44, and looked to get a running start at the turn of the fourth period.

This aim would be fulfilled as the Flames knocked down the opening two baskets of the final term, momentarily holding a one-point lead over the in-form Lynx. But a return three from Alex Ciabattoni 80 seconds in handed back the lead to Ryan Petrik and his side, further prolonging the Flames’ comeback efforts.

Even though Perth managed to hold onto the lead for essentially the whole last term, the Flames would just not go away, tying things up with two and a half minutes remaining and then regaining the lead a minute later off of a Schwagmeyer triple. Known for her shooting, Funda Nakkasoglu put Sydney Uni up by four with 55 seconds left, where Ebzery answered back with a three of her own with 24 seconds to play, putting Perth behind by just a point. But Scherf’s two made free throws with just 10 seconds on the clock iced the game and end the Lynx’s three-game winning streak.

Both teams shot at a surprisingly low efficiency, where Sydney Uni converted on 36 per cent, which was slightly higher than Perth’s 34 per cent. The Flames held the higher ground in a number of categories to name a few. Particularly noticeable was the side’s plus-11 in rebounding (52-41) and superiority off the bench (30-14), while also winning statistically in areas such as assists, second chance points and three-point shooting.

Schwagmeyer (four assists and three rebounds) and Scherf (11 rebounds and five assists) each scraped away with 19 points apiece, whereas Burton (10 points and two assists) and Maley (eight points, 14 rebounds and four assists) were also instrumental in the win.

Despite the Lynx’s best efforts last night, only two individuals managed over 10 points. Ebzery showed off her scoring abilities at the point guard position, with a game-high 24-point performance, as Alex Sharp fought for her 11-point and 12-rebound double-double last night. A major downfall for the side was Darcee Garbin’s lack of impact, as the Opal only managed nine points and seven rebounds in her 37 minutes of court time.

Perth returns to Townsville Stadium on Thursday to try and emerge victorious for the fourth time in five games against the Canberra Capitals, while the Flames will take the court directly after when they try to upstage a Southside Flyers outfit that has not been defeated since the 23rd of November.

2020 WNBL Round 5 preview: Last chance for teams to make mark

ROUND 5 of the Women’s National Basketball League (WNBL) is finally here. The last round of the season, and five teams are fighting for four spots, with the top two unable to be moved, and the next two almost there, whilst the fifth placed side has a huge week to try and grab a late spot in the post-season series.

Adelaide Lightning

Position: 5th
Wins: 4
Losses: 5

To make finals?

The Lightning need to win all four games and hope either the Fire or Boomers lose all of their games. Could finish as low as seventh if Perth and Sydney Uni win games in the final round.

Round 5 fixtures:

Tue, Dec 8 @ Cairns vs. Melbourne Boomers
Wed, Dec 9 @ Cairns vs. Bendigo Spirit
Fri, Dec 11 @ Cairns vs. Townsville Fire
Sun, Dec 13 @ Townsville vs. Sydney Uni Flames

After starting off strongly with a 4-1 start, the Lightning have slumped to a four-game losing streak to now be perilously close to missing out on finals. They need a lot to go right in the run home, though one benefit is playing both the Boomers and Fire who hold onto the spots they needs. If they can win those, they should go 4-0, but even then need at least one of those sides to have a shock loss.

Steph Talbot has been the standout this season, averaging 20.0 points, 9.6 rebounds, 3.8 assists, 1.8 steals and 1.0 block per game, providing some continuity to the side along with Chelsea Brook (10.4 points, 4.5 rebounds, 1.5 assists). Abigail Wehrung (11.8 points, 2.8 rebounds and 2.5 assists) and Alex Wilson (11.3 points, 5.8 rebounds and 4.8 assists) have certainly shone but they need to have a big finish in the final round.

 

Bendigo Spirit

Position: 8th
Wins: 0
Losses: 11th

To make finals?

They can’t. In fact they cannot even get off the bottom. Just pride on the line for Bendigo in the Spirit’s final two matches.

Round 5 fixtures:

Wed, Dec 9 @ Cairns vs. Adelaide Lightning
Fri, Dec 11 @ Cairns vs. Melbourne Boomers

It has been a disappointing season for the Spirit, but not completely unexpected given the youth they have been pushing through the program. Having lost the likes of Shyla Heal and Abigail Wehrung over the off-season, the Spirit were quite inexperienced, and while they have been overawed, have had some promising moments for the future.

Tessa Lavey (16.0 points, 4.5 rebounds, 5.9 assists and 1.1 steals) and Carley Ernst (15.3 points, 7.3 rebounds, 1.8 assists and 1.0 block) have ben the standout players all season, and have just been searching for more consistent support across the side. Demi Skinner (6.9 points, 2.4 rebounds) and Mary Goulding (5.9 points, 4.0 rebounds) have provided some special moments, while Piper Dunlop (2.7 points, 1.8 rebounds) is one for the future.

 

Melbourne Boomers

Position: 3rd
Wins: 7
Losses: 3

To make finals?

Not lose every game and allow the Lightning to win every game. It is a certainty barring a massive disaster. In fact, even defeating Adelaide tonight guarantees them a spot.

Round 5 fixtures:

Tue, Dec 8 @ Cairns vs. Adelaide Lightning
Fri, Dec 11 @ Cairns vs. Bendigo Spirit
Sun, Dec 13 @ Townsville vs. Townsville Fire

The Boomers can lock up a finals spot with a win tonight over Adelaide, but realistically they should have no issues casting aside Bendigo on Friday. A grudge match against Townsville looms as a massive final day encounter, with the winner potentially taking third spot, and the loser left for fourth.

Ezi Magbegor and Cayla George combine to be two of the best bigs in the league with the way they have really begun dominating each game of late, not that it should come as any surprise. The two Opals are experts at their craft, and George is averaging 14.3 points, 8.5 rebounds, 3.6 assists and 1.3 steals, while Magbegor has put up 14.2 points, 8.3 rebounds, 1.3 assists and 1.0 block. Tess Madgen (14.6 points, 5.6 rebounds and 6.3 assists) has provided all-round support for the Boomers, while Maddie Garrick (10.6 points, 2.3 rebounds and 1.8 assists) is the other top scorer on the side.

 

Perth Lynx

Position: 6th
Wins: 4
Losses: 7

To make finals?

They cannot. Unfortunately the Lynx left their run a little too late, and even two wins in the final round sees them fall short.

Round 5 fixtures:

Tue, Dec 8 @ Townsville vs. Sydney Uni
Thu, Dec 10 @ Townsville vs. UC Capitals

After a poor 1-7 start and only a victory against the winless Bendigo, the Lynx have found their feet in the past week, winning three straight games, and boosting themselves to a 4-7 record which saw them leapfrog Sydney Uni Flames. A win over the Flames tonight guarantees them a top six spot, while they could derail the Capitals plans with a victory on Thursday. Perth will be the first team to finish the WNBL season after Thursday.

Darcee Garbin has had a remarkable season and just keeps getting better, with the ex-Fire talent now up to 17.3 points, 7.2 rebounds and 1.0 steals per game, sharing the load perfectly with Katie-Rae Ebzery (17.0 points, 4.2 rebounds and 4.3 assists). Alex Ciabattoni has been a welcome addition to the squad as a two-way player with 10.6 points, 3.0 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 1.0 steal per game, while the rebounding duo of Alex Sharp (8.7 points, 7.8 rebounds) and Kayla Steindl (6.3 points, 7.9 rebounds) has ensured the Lynx remain competitive.

 

Southside Flyers

Position: 1st
Wins: 9
Losses: 2

To make finals?

Never looked like not making it, with top spot to likely be decided in the final round clash against the Capitals.

Round 5 fixtures:

Thu, Dec 10 @ Townsville vs. Sydney Uni
Sun, Dec 13 @ Townsville vs. UC Capitals

Now on a five-game winning streak and having taken care of the Boomers after an earlier loss, the Flyers face their other nemesis in UC Capitals in the final round. Southside has plenty of talent with the Capitals and Boomers arguably the only two teams able to have their measure, and as such should have no problems against the Flames on Thursday, then decide top spot with the Capitals on Sunday.

Liz Cambage has been unstoppable at the level since coming back from the WNBA, racking up 24.1 points, 8.1 rebounds and 2.0 blocks per game. Sara Blicavs (14.5 points, 7.5 rebounds and 1.4 steals) has relished the focus going off her this season, while Rebecca Cole (13.7 points, 4.2 assists and 2.4 rebounds) and Jenna O’Hea (11.5 points, 3.9 rebounds, 3.8 assists and 1.7 steals) have also provided all-round support. It is hard to forget Leilani Mitchell who has been an assist-machine, picking up 6.5 dimes per game to go with her 8.1 points.

 

Sydney Uni Flames

Position: 7th
Wins: 3
Losses: 7

To make finals?

They cannot, but they could leap as high as fifth if they can win their last three games and results go their way in other matches.

Round 5 fixtures:

Tue, Dec 8 @ Townsville vs. Perth Lynx
Thu, Dec 10 @ Townsville vs. Southside Flyers
Sun, Dec 13 @ Townsville vs. Adelaide Lightning

The Flames cannot make finals, but have the potential to pick up a couple more wins in the run home and rise as high as fifth on the table. While the top of the table Southside Flyers will be tough to knock off, the Lynx and Lightning either side of that game, tonight and Sunday are winnable matches for Sydney Uni.

Ex-Perth stars Lauren Mansfield (12.6 points, 2.2 rebounds and 4.8 assists) and Alison Schwagmeyer (12.4 points, 5.8 rebounds, 3.1 assists and 2.3 steals) have combined brilliantly in the back court this season since crossing the country. Lauren Scherf has remained steady in the five spot with 10.9 points, 7.4 rebounds and 1.3 blocks, whilst Anneli Maley has been a revelation thanks to 11.4 rebounds to go with her 6.8 points.

 

Townsville Fire

Position: 4th
Wins: 7
Losses: 4

To make finals?

Similar position to Melbourne, needing one win to secure a Top 4 spot, and can only drop out if they lose them all and the Lightning win them all. Will know if they have to play for a finals spot by the time their first game rolls around.

Round 5 fixtures:

Fri, Dec 11 @ Cairns vs. Adelaide Lightning
Sun, Dec 13 @ Townsville vs. Melbourne Boomers

The Fire are on the verge of bouncing back from last year’s wooden spoon to playing finals this year, but must knock off Adelaide Lightning on Friday. They do that and it will be all secure, before a huge playoff for third takes place against Melbourne Boomers on Sunday. Until Friday, the Fire have the longest rest leading up to the final round.

The back court duo of Lauren Nicholson and Shyla Heal is the best in the competition with the pair providing the majority of the team’s points throughout the 2020 season. Nicholson has put up 18.4 points, 3.5 rebounds and 1.4 steals, while Heal has managed 17.1 points, 4.5 rebounds, 3.6 assists and 1.2 steals in their 10 games this season. Zitina Aokuso just keeps getting better and got the start last match, and is almost up to 10 points per game (9.7) coming off the bench, to go with 5.9 rebounds per match. Nadeen Payne (8.4 points, 6.7 rebounds) has provided great support in that area.

 

UC Capitals

Position: 2nd
Wins: 8
Losses: 3

To make finals?

They are in, and like the Flyers, have looked in since bouncing back from a surprise opening night loss. Top spot will be up for grabs in the last match against the Flyers if the Capitals win their first match.

Round 5 fixtures:

Thu, Dec 10 @ Townsville vs. Perth Lynx
Sun, Dec 13 @ Townsville vs. Southside Flyers

The reigning back-to-back premiers had a disappointing loss to Townsville Fire which saw them slip to second on the table, and now they have to bounce back with wins against Perth Lynx, and finish off against title favourites, Southside Flyers. The Capitals beat them last time they faced off and will be hoping to do so again, with their defensive mindset key to containing the Flyers’ bigs.

Kelsey Griffin has just been building all season for this pointy end, now averaging 11.8 points. 7.7 rebounds and 1.3 steals per game, teaming up well with co-captain Marianna Tolo (10.3 points, 5.6 rebounds and 1.1 blocks). The youth coming through the guard spots in Maddison Rocci (15.7 points, 3.1 rebounds, 2.9 assists and 2.3 steals) and Jade Melbourne (8.0 points, 2.8 rebounds and 2.0 assists) has been a delight for the future, while Keely Froling (9.7 points, 6.0 rebounds) has pieced together a really strong season.

Picture: Ian Hitchcock/Getty Images

Capitals back on top of WNBL standings, waltz by timid Lightning

BOUNCING back from their previous loss against the Melbourne Boomers, the University of Canberra (UC) Capitals returned to top-of-the-table form, with a convincing 85-65 triumph over the Adelaide Lightning, who now fall victim to a three-game losing streak in this ever-crucial part of the campaign.

The Capitals came out firing on all cylinders, knocking down five of their first six attempts as they found themselves up 14-2 just three minutes in against a sluggish Lightning squad early on.

Paul Goriss’s side would not let up on the Adelaide squad in the opening 10 minutes at all, keeping their opponents to single digits at the turn of the first term 25-8, while shooting 100 per cent (10-10) from the free throw line, with Maddison Rocci, Marianna Tolo and Kelsey Griffin all contributing six points each in that stint of time.

In a much more two-sided second quarter, Adelaide started to knock down their shots and get some points on the board. Led by their starting five, the Lightning would only play three bench players during the first half and with key individual Ally Wilson scoreless after two, last year’s semi-finalists found themselves in a sticky situation at the main break, down 25-46. Whereas Rocci had the opposite problem with 14 points up to this stage.

Canberra was proving to be a continual nuisance on the boards as the contest wore on, accumulating a plus-20 in the rebounding category by three-quarter-time, and more astonishingly was the fact that 16 of their 42 rebounds came at the offensive end, leading to 21 second chance points and a 72-38 score line with a period to play.

Coach Goriss and his staff wanted to keep his core unit on the floor for as long as possible to give his starters a quality run, but eventually the Capitals secondary unit made their way onto the floor with five minutes remaining. With the game beyond doubt, an empty 27-13 fourth quarter victory for Adelaide made the final result more respectable, but Canberra would emerge clear-cut 20-point victors, taking the contest 85-65.

A stagnant first half for Adelaide dampened their efficiency from the floor, shooting 38 per cent from the field and only 62 per cent from the free-throw line. It was also critically hurtful in the rebounding department for the Lightning, ultimately losing the category 31-45. On the other hand, Canberra made their foes on the night pay with the result, following their splendid discipline in the paint and points off of offensive rebounds, compiling 36 and 21 points in each respective statistic. Finishing the night with 46 per cent shooting from the field and 88 per cent consistency from the line, the two-time defending champions had their best form on display last night to say the least.

Rocci led the way for the reigning premiers with 18 points and three assists in her 20 minutes of court time. Backing her up were co-captains Griffin (15 points, nine rebounds) and Tolo (12 points, four blocks and three rebounds), while Brittany Smart and Mikaela Ruef made valuable contributions in the process.

For Stephanie Talbot, it was another routine dominant performance with a game-high 21 points, eight rebounds and two steals, while fellow forward Chelsea Brook was the only other Lightning individual to clock up double-digit point totals with 14.

After their bounce back win, the Capitals will line-up in what will be a pivotal contest between two top-four sides as they face the Townsville Fire on Sunday night, while Adelaide looks to end their three-game slide and knock off a lowly Perth Lynx side hungry for some more good fortune the game after.

Lynx too hot for Fire, string together first back-to-back wins of the season

Alex Ciabattoni in action for Perth Lynx. Picture credit: WNBL

FOR the first time this season, the Perth Lynx have obtained back-to-back wins after their upset victory over the Townsville Fire. Strong first and final quarters were enough to fend off Shannon Seebohm’s squad after 40 minutes, squeezing out the win 84-75.

Both sides boasted blistering scoring totals in the initial quarter of the meeting, with the Lynx holding a slim 27-25 lead after 10 minutes despite both sides shooting over 50 per cent in a score heavy period.

It was clear that even though Perth was out of finals contention prior to tip off, Ryan Petrik’s side came to play last night as they moved the ball with exemplary precision in the first half and found their points in the paint.

The rate of scoring started to slow after the first break with each side’s conversion becoming scarcer after a high octane first. Perth maintained their slim lead heading into the half-time team talks by a mere four points, after both sides combined for just 25 points in the second.

Nevertheless, both sides still kept their shooting averages over 40 per cent with each team expressing similar numbers statistically. But for a side with two wins from nine outings, the Lynx were handling themselves extraordinarily well against a talented Townsville roster. Key performers in the first half for each squad included Alex Ciabattoni for the Lynx (13 points and four rebounds) and Lauren Nicholson (11 points and two rebounds), as both players showed off some lethal shooting by the midway point.

Many experts would have estimated somewhat of a comeback in the second half from Townsville, but the Lynx continued to pull away after half-time. Winning the third quarter 16-10 in another low-scoring term. As a result, Perth had themselves a solid 10-point buffer with time continuing to wind down in last night’s closer.

To the Fire’s credit, they made a couple of threatening scoring runs in the closing moments of the contest, getting to within six points at one stage. However, it would not be enough for one of this season’s hottest teams, as the Lynx would secure the upset win, their third of the season.

Quite simply it was Perth’s ability to convert from the field that got them over the line last night, shooting a remarkable 45 per cent through four quarters compared to Townsville’s 38 per cent. In addition, a plus-seven in rebounds and a plus-seven in assists gave Perth all the necessary tools to emerge victorious, coupled with the Fire‘s lack of presence in the key defensively.

Darcee Garbin further validated her international-level prowess alongside fellow Opal in Katie Ebzery, with Petrik’s star-duo scoring 21 points apiece and combining for 21 rebounds as well as eight assists. Ciabattoni also made a good impression, securing 18 points, five rebounds and three assists. Alex Sharp made a double-digit contribution with a modest 12 points and seven boards.

League MVP candidate Nicholson impressed those who tuned in with 28 points and five rebounds, as she tried to carry her team to a positive result. But only two of her teammates were impressive enough to try and make that a reality. The young duet of Zitina Aokuso and Shyla Heal worked for 11 points each as both had unexpectedly quiet nights yesterday evening.

Perth who for the first time this season have back-to-back victories under their belt will look to continue their good run of late, as a third straight win is a real possibility against the Adelaide Lightning, who they face on Sunday. Before this, however, the Fire will aim to avoid their third defeat in four clashes with a win against the two-time defending champion Canberra Capitals.

2020 WNBL Round 4 preview: Competition for finals spots heats up

MELBOURNE Boomers will have the toughest Round 4 schedule of any side after a more relaxed Round 3 in the Women’s National Basketball League (WNBL), having to play four games in six days, including two matches against last year’s grand finalists. Adelaide Lightning, Bendigo Spirit, Perth Lynx and University of Canberra (UC) Capitals will play three games apiece, while Southside Flyers, Sydney Uni Flames and Townsville Fire have the two games this week.

ADELAIDE LIGHTNING

vs. Southside Flyers @ Cairns on Wed, Dec 2
vs. UC Capitals @ Townsville on Fri, Dec 4
vs. Perth Lynx @ Townsville on Sun, Dec 6

It is a make or break round coming up for the Lightning, following two losses in Round 3, that were also accompanied by two big wins. They lost by 40 and 31 points to Melbourne Boomers and Southside Flyers respectively, but accounted for Bendigo Spirit and Sydney Uni Flames by 40 and 22. They now have to back up to try and turn the tables on the Flyers, before two sets of 48-hour breaks to take on reigning premiers, UC Capitals and then the struggling Perth Lynx. If the Lightning can come away with two wins, they will be in a good position to play finals, but even 1-2 could leave them in the lurch if results do not go their way.

Steph Talbot has been the star this season, putting up 20.8 points 9.8 rebounds, 3.8 assists, 1.8 steals and 1.0 blocks per game, joined by the likes of Abigail Wehrung (13.6 points, 3.2 rebounds and 2.0 assists) and Alex Wilson (13.2 points, 6.0 rebounds, 5.6 assists and 1.2 steals) in the top points scorers. Marena Whittle has also been crucial off the boards with seven rebounds to go with eight points per game.

BENDIGO SPIRIT

vs. Perth Lynx @ Townsville on Tue, Dec 1
vs. Melbourne Boomers @ Cairns on Sat, Dec 5
vs. Sydney Uni Flames @ Cairns on Sun, Dec 6

The Spirit are out of contention for the finals race, but could try and finish on a high, playing the other two bottom three sides in the next week. Yet to win a game, a win over the Lynx would be a confidence-boosting effort, whilst the Flames on Sunday is a possible chance as well with their opponents’ best impressive, but their worst pretty bad. The Boomers in between will be a tough ask, but even the likely finals-bound side has shown to have chinks in the armour. With only two games left after this round, the Spirit need to break their winless drought here.

In season 2020, much of the work has been left up to the experience of Carley Ernst and Tessa Lavey. Ernst has been enormous off the boards with 7.3 rebounds to go with 16.7 points and a block per game, while Lavey has put up 16.3 points, 6.6 assists, 3.9 rebounds and a steal per game. Both have been crucial in transitioning from offence to defence, but have made up the bulk of their team’s scoring with Mary Goulding (6.6 points, 4.3 rebounds, 1.6 steals and 1.1 assists) the next best, and Lavey has recorded about half of the team’s assists, an area the Spirit have struggled in.

MELBOURNE BOOMERS

vs. UC Capitals @ Townsville on Tue, Dec 1
vs. Sydney Uni Flames @ Cairns on Thu, Dec 3
vs. Bendigo Spirit @Cairns on Sat, Dec 5
vs. Southside Flyers @ Cairns on Sun, Dec 6

If we are talking make or break, then the Boomers have that this round. Four games in six days starting tonight, Melbourne can launch a finals campaign by the end of the week. However, a terrible week would likely see them not only slip back into the back, but also put their finals chances right in doubt. They have a mixed bag this week with likely wins over the Flames and Spirit, but they also take on top two sides, Southside Flyers and UC Capitals. They did account for the Flyers back in Round 1 and would love nothing more than to upset their closest Victorian rival, but coming off three games in five days while the Flyers will have had a few days rest off their only other Wednesday night fixture, it will be tough. Four wins and they are genuinely in the hunt for a top two spot.

Tess Madgen was in scintillating form prior to her ankle injury but she should be back and raring to go this round, averaging 18.8 points, 5.3 rebounds and 5.8 assists in 2020 since crossing from Townsville Fire. The experienced four and five combination of Cayla George (16.3 points, 9.3 rebounds, 3.3 assists and 1.2 steals) and Ezi Magbegor (11.5 points, 7.3 rebounds, 1.2 assists, 1.2 steals and 1.0 blocks) has also been a highlight of the year for the reigning semi-finalists.

PERTH LYNX

vs. Bendigo Spirit @ Townsville on Tue, Dec 1
vs. Townsville Fire @ Townsville on Fri, Dec 4
vs. Adelaide Lightning @ Townsville on Sun, Dec 6

There is no doubt that for Perth to have a shot at finals, they would need a near-impossible set of results to occur. Having played two extra games to their biggest threats in Melbourne and Adelaide, Perth would need to win its remaining five games, and hope the Boomers and Lightning lose them all – bar the one they face against each other. Despite their 1-7 start, the Lynx have been competitive for the most part despite some one-sided defeats too. They have a very winnable game first up against the only side they have beaten so far in the Spirit, before taking on finals contenders in Townsville Fire and Adelaide Lightning. Whilst it is anticipated they end the week with 1-2 added to their tally, they could catch the Lightning off guard and derail Adelaide’s finals chances.

Katie-Rae Ebzery has been the dominant player, averaging 16.6 points, 3.4 assists and 3.1 rebounds per game, whilst former Fire talent Darcee Garbin has thrived in the move out west, putting up 13.8 points, 6.5 rebounds, 1.9 assists and 1.1 steals. Much like the Spirit, the points drop off though both Alex Ciabattoni (8.5 points, 2.2 rebounds and 2.5 assists) and Alex Sharp (8.3 points, 6.9 rebounds) have been prominent, as has Kayla Steindl off the boards with 7.9 rebounds.

SOUTHSIDE FLYERS

vs. Adelaide Lightning @ Cairns on Wed, Dec 2
vs. Melbourne Boomers @ Cairns on Sun, Dec 6

After a busy couple of weeks, the Flyers have a relatively smooth week with just two games in the seven days, coming up against Adelaide Lightning and Melbourne Boomers in Cairns. Tomorrow night’s clash against the Lightning will go a long way to securing a top two spot, with a victory over the Boomers just about confirming it. They have only lost the two games – to the Boomers and Capitals – and will be keen to bounce back against the Boomers in their second fixture. Either way, finals is sewn up for the Flyers who are the title favourites despite the losses.

Liz Cambage has made the mark everyone expected her to on-court with 22.3 points, 8.4 rebounds and 2.0 blocks per game thus far. She has plenty of talent around her though, with Sara Blicavs (14.7 points, 7.3 rebounds, 1.7 assists and 1.6 steals) having a ripping season with Jenna O’Hea (10.9 points, 3.9 rebounds, 3.8 assists and 1.6 steals per game) in the front court. In the back court, Leilani Mitchell (8.7 points, 5.9 assists) and Rebecca Cole (13.2 points, 4.2 assists and 2.2 rebounds) have been slicing and dicing opposition defences and leading their side to some big wins.

SYDNEY UNI FLAMES

vs. Melbourne Boomers @ Carins on Thu, Dec 3
vs. Bendigo Spirit @ Cairns on Sun, Dec 6

Sydney Uni is a side whose season is on life support, though there still is a pulse there if they can capitalise this round. With only five games remaining, they will need to win at least four, but preferably all five, starting with the Boomers and Spirit this week. The Spirit is an obvious must-win on Sunday, but to knock off the Boomers on Thursday would help the Flames at least leapfrog them, and potentially sit equal fourth by the end of the round. With Perth and Adelaide amongst the opponents in the final round, their fate is still in their hands, but they cannot afford to slip-up.

Former Perth duo, Lauren Mansfield and Alison Schwagmeyer have taken to the east coast like ducks to water. Mansfield is averaging 12.6 points, 4.8 assists and 2.1 rebounds while Schwagmeyer has put up 11.0 points, 5.3 rebounds, 3.4 assists and 2.3 steals. The impact of five, Lauren Scherf with 12.5 points, 7.9 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 1.6 blocks should not be underestimated, while Anneli Maley might be the most underrated player in the competition, putting up 7.3 points and 1.3 steals to go with a whopping 11.5 rebounds in her eight games since crossing from the Flyers.

TOWNSVILLE FIRE

vs. Perth Lynx @ Townsville on Fri, Dec 4
vs. UC Capitals @ Townsville on Sun, Dec 6

Much like the Flyers and Flames, the Fire complete the trio of ‘F’ sides only playing the two games this weekend. Both are at home in Townsville this week, and the Fire get to rest up until Friday, the last team to commence action in Round 4. They go head-to-head with Perth Lynx up first, and are able to put a line through the Lynx’s season. The Capitals on Sunday will be a tougher challenge, and they will need to be at their best, but the Fire have shown to be capable throughout matches they just need to do it for longer periods of time, having gone down to the Capitals back in Round 1 by 11 points.

Lauren Nicholson (16.4 points, 3.1 rebounds, 1.9 assists and 1.0 steals) and Shyla Heal (16.6 points, 3.9 rebounds, 3.9 assists and 1.0 steals) have been one of the best back court duos in the league this season. They have dominated the vast majority of Townsville’s points since crossing from Adelaide and Bendigo respectively over the offseason. Zitina Aokuso (9.9 points, 6.0 rebounds), Megan McKay (5.9 points, 6.1 rebounds) and Nadeen Payne (8.0 points, 5.7 rebounds) are the bigs who cause headaches for opposition sides off the boards.

UC CAPITALS

vs. Melbourne Boomers @ Townsville on Tue, Dec 1
vs. Adelaide Lightning @ Townsville on Fri, Dec 4
vs. Townsville Fire @Townsville on Sun, Dec 6

The UC Capitals are sitting pretty at the moment with seven wins from eight games and in prime position for top spot. With a last-day matchup against the Flyers set to potentially determine top spot, there would be one eye on the semis despite having the five games remaining. They have the three this weekend, and none are easy, taking on the likely finals-bound Boomers and Fire either side of the team that beat them in overtime back in Round 1, Adelaide Lightning. The form that a full-strength Capitals outfit has shown over the journey is better than any other side, and they will be hard to beat, but before they can focus on finals, they need to keep ticking over the wins and it starts tonight against the Boomers.

Maddison Rocci (15.6 points, 3.4 rebounds, 3.1 assists and 2.8 steals) leads all-comers in terms of points, with the co-captains Marianna Tolo (11.6 points. 5.5 rebounds, 1.1 steals and 1.1 blocks) and Kelsey Griffin (10.8 points. 7.8 rebounds and 1.5 steals) building into the season nicely. Jade Melbourne‘s season has been impressive (9.6 points, 3.0 rebounds and 2.3 assists), while Tahlia Tupaea‘s work off the bench (6.7 points, 4.7 rebounds and 2.3 assists) should not be understated.

2020 WNBL Round 3 weekday preview: Lightning returns as Lynx face three games in four days

AFTER a quarantine setback due to State Government rules around the Adelaide Lightning players needing to remain in isolation for another week, the Women’s National Basketball League (WNBL) returns in full starting tonight. Seven games will be played across four days, with Perth Lynx having a heavy three-game schedule, while the Lightning, Bendigo Spirit, University of Canberra (UC) Capitals and Southside Flyers all play two games. By contrast, Melbourne Boomers only play one game in eight days, while Sydney Uni Flames and Townsville Fire back up with two games over the weekend.

Cairns hub:

Southside Flyers vs. UC Capitals
Sydney Uni Flames vs. Perth Lynx
Perth Lynx vs. Southside Flyers
UC Capitals vs. Perth Lynx

There will be no proper rest for Perth Lynx who face an incredibly tough schedule over the next three days, needing to back up and perform against three opponents in four days. After tonight’s match against Sydney Uni Flames, the West Australian team will only have Tuesday off before descending into back-to-back matches against last year’s grand finalists and current top two sides, Southside Flyers and UC Capitals. The grand final rematch is tonight which is sure to create plenty of interest in the group, while the Lynx and Flames both desperately need a win, because a loss will just about put a line through their season.

The Lynx will need to manage their players perfectly over this week, knowing they get a five-day break following the hectic three-in-four schedule. Katie-Rae Ebzery and Darcy Garbin remain the two crucial players for the Lynx, with Garbin playing every game, and Ebzery missing one thus far in season 2020. Ebzery has put up 17.8 points, 3.5 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 1.0 blocks in 2020, hitting 47.1 per cent of her three-point attempts. Garbin has been instrumental off the boards with 13.8 points and 6.4 rebounds.

The struggle for the Lynx has been their assist numbers, with Alex Ciabattoni the only other player with two or more assists, averaging two assists and rebounds as well as seven points. Rebounds wise, the Lynx have been able to remain strong, as Alex Sharp (7.2 points, 7.8 rebounds) and Kayla Steindl (5.2 points, 7.4 rebounds) have provided great coverage in the area. The key will be to somehow overcome the shocking 46-point defeat to the Flyers last week, while the challenges that also come against quality opposition in the Capitals and Flames.

Southside has lived up to its pre-season billing of title favourites, sitting pretty on top of the table with a 4-1 record and its only blemish coming against the Boomers. No doubt defeating the Capitals will be high up on the Flyers’ list of desired achievements having gone down to them in two nail-biting grand finals last season. Liz Cambage has been near-impossible to stop in the center position, averaging 20.2 points, 9.2 rebounds and 2.2 blocks per game. Joining her with more than 15 points per game to her name is Rebecca Cole who has been crucial on the offensive end with 16.6 points and 3.6 assists per game, as well as a high 64.7 per cent from long-range for a 58.8 per cent field goal clip.

There are no shortage of stars in the Flyers’ side though, with the same starting five every match thus far. That includes Jenna O’Hea and Sara Blicavs rounding out the three and four spots. O’Hea is averaging 11.6 points, 4.4 rebounds, 3.6 assists and 1.6 steals per game, while Blicavs has recorded 14.6 points, 7.8 rebounds, 1.4 assists and 1.8 steals. Leilani Mitchell has only managed the 8.6 points, but might be the most crucial player on the court with her transition work, averaging a massive six assists per game as she heads into battle against her former side tonight.

UC Capitals have the two games, facing Perth on Thursday after their grand final rematch tonight. The advantage with the schedule is the fact the Capitals should be ready to go in the blockbuster Monday night fixture, before taking on a tiring Lynx outfit who would have come off a second game the night before. Maddison Rocci has been amazing this season, putting up 17.0 points, 4.4 rebounds, 3.2 assists and 3.0 steals to cement herself as one of the stars of the competition. Jade Melbourne continues to juggle her Year 12 exams in between being a basketball talent, averaging the 10 points and two rebounds thus far.

The much more experienced Kelsey Griffin has been building off the bench, and perhaps will have her greatest impact tonight, with the Capitals needing every ounce of her ability to get up over the Flyers. She has been averaging 8.3 points, 5.7 rebounds, 2.7 steals and 2.3 assists from limited minutes. Keely Froling (11.6 points, 6.8 rebounds), Marianna Tolo (10.2 points, 4.8 rebounds) and Mikayla Ruef (9.2 points, 8.0 rebounds) are the others who remain consistent in the Capitals’ premiership defence.

Sydney Uni seem the more likely side in that bottom three to keep their season alive despite a 1-4 start. They have been more competitive as a whole, with five and three-point losses in Round 2 which hurt the Flames. They now have a chance to really step it up against Perth Lynx who they should beat, and no doubt Lauren Mansfield and Alison Schwagmeyer will have extra motivation to win. Mansfield is averaging 14. points, 5.4 assists, 2.6 rebounds and 1.0 steals per game, while fellow former Lynx talent Schwagmeyer has averaged 11.6 points, 4.0 rebounds, 3.2 assists and 2.2 steals starting every match this season.

Lauren Scherf has been building and getting better as the season wears on, putting up a team-high six points and 1.4 blocks to go with her 13 points. Anneli Maley has also relished the extra time since crossing from the Flyers, showing what she is capable of thanks to 8.6 points, 9.8 blocks and 1.6 steals. Natalie Burton has also contributed strongly with the six points and 4.4 rebounds playing out of that four spot with great success.

Tonight’s winner grabs top spot with the Flyers favoured, but you can never discount the Capitals, while expect both teams, as well as the Flames to end the Lynx’s season this week.

Townsville hub:

Melbourne Boomers vs. Adelaide Lightning
Bendigo Spirit vs. Townsville Fire
Bendigo Spirit vs. Adelaide Lightning

A smaller Townsville hub features the four teams with the Lightning returning and playing two games against Melbourne Boomers and Bendigo Spirit, while the Spirit also takes on Townsville Fire in the game that was rescheduled from Sunday. The unknown of this hub is the Lightning, who will be certainly fresh, but whether it is at a point of being rusty, and the Boomers being a tough first-up opponent. They could capitalise on the Boomers’ recent loss to Townsville, while the Fire and Lightning will still be backed in to take care of the winless Spirit.

Starting with the Lightning, in case many might have forgotten given they have not played in eight days, Adelaide claimed two victories in Round 1, defeating the reigning premiers UC Capitals on opening night in a 12-point overtime upset win. They then went on to defeat Perth Lynx by five points in a much closer contest, before being forced back into quarantine due to the COVID-19 outbreak in South Australia. Technically the Lightning are the only undefeated team in the competition, but will need to play catch-up which means a hectic schedule over the final three rounds.

Steph Talbot was unbelievable in the opening two matches, racking up 27.5 points, 12 rebounds, four steals and three assists to arguably be the player of the competition at that stage. She was well supported by inclusions to the Lightning’s team, Abigail Wehrung (16 points, nine rebounds and three assists) and Alex Wilson (13.5 points, 5.5 rebounds, 5.5 assists and 1.5 steals). Wilson will take on her former side in the Spirit on Wednesday which provides some extra motivation there. Chelsea Brook (nine points, five rebounds) has provided her usual impact at the five spot and teamed up well with Talbot as the bigs.

The Spirit have really struggled on offence this season, but seemed to find a way to counter their low scoring in the narrow 10-point defeat to Townsville on Saturday. The Spirit has a huge first term before tiring towards the end, but finally hit the 80-point mark (81) after scores of 60, 63, 56 and 65 in their first four games. Carley Ernst (17.6 points, 7.2 rebounds, 1.8 assists, 1.0 steals and 1.0 blocks) and Tessa Lavey (12.8 points, 4.2 rebounds, 7.2 assists and 1.0 steals) have been the dominant rebounder and playmaker respectively thus far, but they need more support.

Mary Goulding has been building nicely in the later games with 8.8 points, 4.6 rebounds and 1.8 steals, while Jennie Rintala is the only other player with more than five points, putting up 5.8 points and 4.2 rebounds coming off the bench. By comparison their opponent on Tuesday in Townsville has had no problems scoring, racking up the second most points this season, but also being the second weakest defence behind the Spirit.

Lauren Nicholson (19.5 points, 3.8 rebounds and 2.2 assists) and Shyla Heal (16.8 points, 3.7 rebounds and 3.7 assists) have been the two back court talents that will cause all sorts of headaches, with Heal’s best game coming against the Spirit in that win over the weekend. She will be hoping to produce much of the same, while Zitina Aokuso is ready to tear the competition apart and is up to 9.8 points and 5.5 rebounds per game getting better with every extra minute. Mia Murray (5.7 points, 4.3 rebounds) and Nadeen Payne (8.0 points, 5.2 rebounds) have been crucial in that area as well.

Meanwhile the Boomers will be hungry for a win tomorrow night following the back-to-back losses in Round 2 against the Capitals and Fire. After starting the season 3-0, including a victory over Southside Flyers, the Boomers went down to the Capitals by 17 points, before suffering their most recent loss to the Fire yesterday, losing by 12. Tess Madgen has been dominant for her new side this season, but has only played the three games after missing two matches with an ankle injury. She has put up 19.7 points, 6.0 rebounds and 5.7 assists, joining captain Cayla George (16.4 points, 8.2 rebounds, 2.8 assists and 1.4 steals) as the dominant scorers.

Ezi Magbegor has provided crucial work in tandem with George out of the four and five spots, recording 11.6 points, 7.2 rebounds, 1.4 assists, 1.2 steals and 1.0 blocks, while Ashleigh Karaitiana and Madeleine Garrick remain busy with nine and eight points per game respectively. They desperately need a win to avoid a three-game losing streak, and given they will have a week off, expect them to leave nothing out on the court, especially with four matches in Round 4, including the Capitals and Flyers.

Picture: Albert Perez/Getty Images