Tag: alex wilson

NBL1 Central: Round 5 Preview

FOLLOWING two rounds in the span of one weekend, the NBL1 Central division returns to its usual structure this weekend, and fans can look forward to an exciting weekend of high-quality basketball as the league begins its fifth round.

Norwood Flames v Eastern Mavericks


This game will prove vital for both sides, as these two teams are both desperate for a win. The Flames have only won one game this season and the Mavericks are yet to register a victory. The winner of this matchup should use this as a turning point to get their season back on track. The Flames will be looking for Alex Wilson to once again ignite the offence, fresh off a 15-point performance in a game where her side could not find the bottom of the net. The Mavericks are in the midst of a shooting slump, but if they can snap this, they may finally find themselves on the winners list. Maverick Mollie McKendrick has been consistent all year, so she will prove key in driving her team to victory with her ability to score freely.


The Flames escaped with the narrowest of victories against the Panthers in Round 4, but a win is a win, and they’ll be looking to start a streak with a win against the Mavericks. This Mavericks side has struggled all year, to the point where they have started the year 0-4 to find themselves on the bottom of the ladder. They have found various avenues of scoring such as Nathaniel Koko and Lachlan Knibbs, but their inability to defend has cost them. They have given up 389 points in four games, which will not win you many games. They will also have their hands full slowing down CJ Turnage who has proven his ability to score time and time again. The Mavericks face a tough task, but stranger things have happened.

Sturt Sabres v North Adelaide Rockets


The Sabres are on a nice winning streak at the moment. They’ve won their last three games and have placed themselves quite nicely in third place. The Rockets are hot on their tail with two wins and two losses, and an upset here could see them close that gap even further. Consistency has let the Rockets down, as they haven’t won two games in a row this year. They have a nice opportunity to do that this weekend, and if they want to achieve this goal, they’ll need Taylor Ortlepp to continue her form of late. Ortlepp had 24 points and 15 rebounds last weekend and acts as a barometer for the team. The Sabres have scoring power of their own in Kylee Smith and Lauren Gibbons, so expect a high scoring match.


Sturt’s men’s side is in some serious form at the moment, having not dropped a game so far this season. Four wins and zero losses after four rounds is about as good as it gets, but heavy is the head that wears the crown. The Sabres have found themselves hunted by the other sides, and the Rockets will be eager to be the side that breaks their streak. Fresh off a nice win against the Bearcats in Round 4, the Rockets will have their tails up, and have plenty of faith in themselves to cause an upset here. They’ll need Verle Williams provide a similar effort to last week (28 points). The Sabres may be in form, but the Rockets are just as hungry.

Woodville Warriors v Forrestville Eagles


The Warriors face a tough task here, if they want to leave St Clair Recreation Centre with a win, they’ll have to do what four teams haven’t been able to do this year and take down an Eagles side that is full of confidence. The Warriors haven’t been quite as good this year, only winning one of their first four games and were fairly embarrassed by the Sabres last week. The Eagles will likely prove too good in this match, but the beauty of sport is that anything can happen. One advantage the Warriors do have is in the form of Emily Winter, who has had as good a start to the 2021 season as anyone, emphasised by her 24-point, 22-rebound performance last round. Her hard work deserves reward, and a win against one of the best sides in the league would be the best reward possible.


This contest is shaping up to be a fantastic battle. These sides are extremely hard to split on paper with both sides 3-1 after four rounds and capable of playing fast paced, high scoring basketball. The Warriors took the Sabres to the very end of the game, falling by seven points in the end in a valiant effort. This loss will not only motivate them going forward but it also showed that they can match it with the best. The Eagles did enough to get past the Lions, walking away with an eight-point win to move up the ladder. It will be an enthralling duel between Warrior Joe Jackson and Eagle Gregory Mays. With both players in great form, keep an eye on this battle-within-the-battle.

Central District Lions v Southern Tigers


These two sides have had contrasting season in terms of success. The Tigers have been the best side in the league after four rounds of action and have looked a class above their peers on a weekly basis. This side is stacked with confidence and rightfully so and will take some serious beating. On the other hand, the Lions have struggled to start the 2021 season, failing to win a game and finding themselves on the bottom of the ladder. This match up seems a near impossible task, especially with Teige Morrell in form. Morrell dropped 24 points and 14 rebounds last week in an excellent display, and she should prove difficult to guard again.


Leading into this game, the Tigers have found some nice form. Winning their last two matches, the side will be quietly confident of making it three in a row, especially after last week’s comfortable win over the Mavericks. The situation isn’t as positive for the Lions, who have lost three in a row after winning their first game of the year, but don’t rule them out just yet. Their final quarter rally against the Eagles last week showed this team still has some fight, even if it didn’t secure them the win. Another positive from this match was the performance of David Humphries, who poured in 21 points, 10 rebounds and five assists. He will be crucial in his team’s chances to compete with this red hot Tigers team.

West Adelaide Bearcats v South Adelaide Panthers


The final matchup of the round is a Sunday battle between two sides who are in similar places after four rounds. The Bearcats fought all game to try and steal a win from the Rockets last round in a game they probably should have won. The Bearcats shot better from the field than their opponents, but undisciplined defence cost them the game, with the Rockets shooting 17 more free throws, a crucial stat in a game decided by seven points. This will drive the Bearcat players and expect them to come into this round’s match fired up. Meanwhile, the Panthers are on a high after taking care of the Flames in convincing fashion. With Ashley Spencer pouring in points (22 points in Round 4) and Olivia Thompson controlling the boards (16 rebounds in Round 4), the Panthers will be hard to stop.


Round 4 brought heartbreak for the Panthers, as they fell just a solitary point short of stealing a game from the Flames, but it wasn’t meant to be. They shot a fantastic 44 percent from the field and were unlucky to face a team that ended up shooting 50 percent from the field. This also demonstrates a need for their defence to tighten up, a key point that was likely addressed during preparation for this week. Alex Starling put in one of the best individual performances of the round in the loss, finishing with 30 points, 16 rebounds and four steals, so keep an eye on her this week. The Bearcats were soundly beaten by the Rockets last round and will need to improve if they are to compete this weekend against the Panthers. Facing a Rockets side that had not yet won a game, the Bearcats simply didn’t show up as they needed to and will be eager to rectify this with a Round 5 win. Expect both sides to come out hungry for redemption.

NBL1 Central: Round 3 wrap – Undefeated teams settling at the top

NATIONAL Basketball League (NBL)1 action moved forward in the Central division over the weekend, as the strong teams begin to cement themselves at the top of the ladder. There were big wins and heartbreaking losses in a fascinating round of action.

Forestville Eagles vs. North Adelaide Rockets


Forestville are fast putting their hands up as contenders, starting the season 3-0 thanks to a 13-point win over the inconsistent Rockets on Friday night. The Eagles won three out of the four quarters, and always seemed to have control of the game. For the Eagles, Samantha Simons once again led the way for her side, finishing with 35 points and nine rebounds, and was by far the strongest individual performer in the match. Teammate Amy Cotton was also impressive with 12 points of her own. For the Rockets, Jess Good and Rachel Mate ended with 17 points each and can be proud of their efforts to ignite the offence.


The Eagles continue to put their season on the track with their second win of the year, defeating a struggling Rockets side by 18 points at Wayville Sports Centre. The Rockets are yet to find their first win of the year and didn’t look close during this round. The Eagles led 50-27 at half time and never looked back. Eagles duo Gregory Mays (20 points and 10 rebounds) and Brandon Brine (19 points and 14 rebounds) led the way with strong performances on both ends of the floor. Rocket Jimma Dau was his side’s best with 16 points and 10 rebounds.

West Adelaide Bearcats vs. Norwood Flames


The Bearcats have escaped with a five-point victory over the Norwood Flames, to take them to 2-1 on the season standings. Each team won two quarters, but West Adelaide were too good, holding off a final quarter fightback from the Flames to take the win. West Adelaide’s Keeley Pearce was the star of the match, finishing with 29 points and an astounding 9/12 from three-point range. She was key in driving her team to the win, as was teammate Jennie Rintala who chimed in 19 points and nine rebounds. For the Flames, Alex Wilson was extremely close to a triple double with 20 points, nine rebounds and 11 assists.


A tense final quarter saw the Bearcats run away with a seven-point victory over the Flames at Port Adelaide Recreation Centre. Leading by just one point heading into the final quarter, the Bearcats managed to do just enough to hold off a determined Flames side, who will be disappointed in the lost opportunity. Bearcats big man Earnest Ross was once again influential in guiding his side to the win, as he finished with 35 points and 16 rebounds in a typically dominant performance. For Norwood, CJ Turnage performed well with 20 points and eight rebounds.

South Adelaide vs. Southern Tigers


The Southern Tigers have cruised to a comfortable win over the South Adelaide, triumphing by 29 points at Marion Basketball Stadium. The Tigers never lost a quarter, and their 13-point lead at the first break never got any smaller as they were able to keep control of the game at all times. For the Tigers, Teige Morrell was outstanding, stuffing the stat sheet with 22 points and 14 rebounds as she proved too good for her opponents. For South Adelaide, Olivia Thompson battled hard all day, pouring in 22 points and 12 rebounds in the loss.


South Adelaide left their comeback too late, as the Southern Tigers held on to snag a three-point win in a tense ending to the match on Saturday night. South Adelaide found themselves within one point with 10 seconds to go, and after the Tigers sunk the free throws, the ball was only ever going to the red-hot Alex Starling, but unfortunately the three pointer was offline. For the Tigers, Cameron Coleman and Christian Artacho scored 18 points each and were both dangerous all night. For South Adelaide, Starling lived up to his name and was the star of the show, pouring in 29 points and singlehandedly kept his side in the game with his shooting.

Sturt Sabres vs. Eastern Mavericks


The Sabres took control of the game early, as they waltzed their way to a 29-point win against the Mavericks, who still can’t conjure a win. Following consecutive poor losses, the Mavericks once again looked a step off the pace and couldn’t keep up with a Sabres side who were a class above all game. For the Sabres, Jade Johnson was an offensive threat for all four quarters, finishing the match with 26 points on extremely effective shooting, and was the best performer on the court. For the Mavericks, Mollie McKendrick and Kedeisha Kartinyeri each dropped 15 points in an attempt to spark the offence.


The Sabres fired on all cylinders as they cruised to a 29-point win over the Mavericks to maintain their undefeated record and notch their third win of the year. The Sabres performed strong from the opening tip, and there was no concern as they did what was required to defeat a Mavericks side who have underperformed all year. Despite the Sabres highest scorer being Max Calligeros with only 15 points, they still scored 88 points, demonstrating their balanced scoring as a team. For the Mavericks, Owen Raneberg and Matt Stock each chimed in with 11 points each as the only double-digit scorers for their side.

Woodville Warriors vs. Central Districts Lions


The Woodville Warriors have recorded their first win of the year, taking down the Central Districts Lions in convincing fashion, to leave the arena winners by 17 points. It was a battle of the bottom enders as both teams fought tooth and nail for their first win of the season, and the Warriors lived up to their name. Emily Winter and Deanna Troia combined for 33 points for the Warriors and were both extremely influential on the result. For the Lions, April Rummery Lumb battled hard to keep her side in the match, ending with 23 points and five blocks, but to no avail.


It was a one-sided affair for three quarters as the Warriors were ruthless against the Lions, leaving St Clair Recreation Centre with a 31-point victory on Saturday night. The Lions showed some fight to reduce the deficit to nine points heading into the last quarter, but a 33-11 final term blew the game wide open, as the Warriors ended up with a comfortable win. For the winners, Joe Jackson was strong, ending the match with 27 points and 11 rebounds, while Julian Jacobs was one rebound shy of a triple double, pouring in 17 points, nine rebounds and 11 assists. For the Lions, Brodie Nathan and Shaquille Maharaj had 14 points each.

Round Four results:


Sturt Sabres 81 def. Woodville Warriors 40

Eastern Mavericks 37 def by. Southern Tigers 90

Norwood Flames 47 def by. South Adelaide Panthers 73

North Adelaide Rockets 71 def. West Adelaide Bearcats 64

Forrestville Eagles 81 def. Central District Lions 33



Sturt Sabres 76 def. Woodville Warriors 69

Eastern Mavericks 70 def by Southern Tigers 92

Norwood Flames 81 def. South Adelaide Panthers 80

Forrestville Eagles 85 def. Central District Lions 77

NBL1 Central Round 3 Preview: Redemption and momentum the stories this week

THE National Basketball League (NBL)1 Central division is already two weeks into the season, and the games are starting to heat up. With plenty of close contests last weekend, the hype for the third round of action couldn’t be more real.

Forrestville Eagles v North Adelaide Rockets


The Forrestville Eagles are currently 2-0 for the season following last week’s nail-biting victory over the Norwood Flames. The Eagles escaped with a three point win, and will be hoping to make the margin a bit bigger against the Rockets. Samantha Simons will be crucial to her side’s success, and if she can produce a performance close to her effort last week – which involved 19 points, 12 rebounds and five assists – the Rockets will be in trouble. North Adelaide walked away with a comfortable 31-point win over the Woodville Warriors and will be taking plenty of confidence into this matchup. Will the duo of Taylor Ortlepp and Sam Defrancesco prove too much for the Eagles? They will play an important role in posting a winning score.


The men’s Forrestville side was not so lucky last week, as they fell to the Flames by seven points last Saturday night. Despite setting themselves up with a strong first quarter, outscoring their opponents by nine, the Eagles were not able to hold the lead or complete the last quarter comeback. They will need to improve both areas in order to win this match. Eagle Michael Harris is in hot form after a 35-point performance last week and will be one to watch in this match. The Rockets have had a rough start to the year, yet to grab their first win, and copping a 34-point loss last round at the hands of the Warriors. The scoring issue was as clear as day, with no definitive first option against Woodville. Jimma Nau top scored for his team last week and will need to put the team on his shoulders offensively if they are to compete against the Eagles.

West Adelaide Bearcats v Norwood Flames


Both teams coming off a loss last week, the loser of this match will have plenty to ponder as they slide down the ladder. The Bearcats fell by six points to the red hot Southern Tigers, and will need to improve on last week’s performance if they are to conjure a win. Sky Lamgenbrinck has been her side’s best performer two weeks in a row, so it will be interesting if the Flames put any extra work into her defensively, or if she will once again be given free rein. The Flames fell in similar fashion last week, by a mere three points to the Eagles. Keep an eye on Alex Wilson who chimed in a 20-point triple double in Round 2 and will be about the play again.


The Bearcats kicked off their season last week in proper fashion, bouncing back from a Round 1 loss to triumph over the Southern Tigers by eight points on Saturday night. The side poured in a much stronger performance than their first match, and will be riding the momentum into this game. Fabian Johnson and Earnest Ross led from the front and combined for 45 points last week, and should prove difficult to shut down. The Flames also got their first win of 2021, with an impressive victory over the Eagles. They will once again be looking for CJ Turnage to ignite the offence after his 37-point performance on Saturday.

South Adelaide Panthers v Southern Tigers


In the most exciting clash of the round, two undefeated sides will go head to head in what will surely be an entertaining battle. The Panthers backed up their Round 1 win with a dominant 28-point victory over the Mavericks in Round 2. The Panthers have so many avenues for scoring which is what makes them one of the biggest threats in the competition. Olivia Thompson’s 27 point and 17 rebound performance in the win puts her at the top of the list of players to watch. The Tigers’ Round 2 win was less convincing – only six points over the Bearcats – but a win nonetheless. Their defence will have to be executing well all game if they are a chance to stop the Panthers. Morgan Yaeger was strong for the Tigers last week and should contribute again this week.


Once again, the Panthers proved too good for their Round 2 opponents, knocking down the Mavericks by 23 points in their second win of the year. The similarities between the club’s two sides are clear, they both have a number of scorers on their time, making them extremely difficult to shut down offensively. Last week it was Todd Davies, and it could be him again this week, but it also could be five other players. Unfortunately for the Tigers, they haven’t started the season as well, still searching for their first win. Their scoring in the loss to Bearcats was not an issue, with Koop McCalop and Nick Wurm combining for 46 points, but their defence cost them, unable to stop their opponents. This will need to improve if they are to stop the high-scoring Panthers.

Sturt Sabres v Eastern Mavericks


The Eastern Mavericks will be heading into this game looking for an all-important first victory, but Sturt had quite the win last week – so big it nearly makes them the form team of the competition. Defeating the Lions by a whopping 95 points in Round 2, Sturt were absolutely ruthless against their opponents, and could defeat any team in the league if they play like that. Led magnificently by Jade Johnson with 38 points and eight three-pointers, their offence was near perfect, and looked ominous to other teams. Meanwhile, the Mavericks have looked a step off it this season, and will need improvements all around if they are to stop this Sabres train.


The Sabres haven’t put a foot wrong this season, starting the season 2-0 and delivering a convincing 17-point victory over the Lions last round. Sam Daly has started the season in great form, consistently finding ways to score and should do no less in this matchup. The Mavericks disappointed against the Panthers last week, and face a tough task stopping the Sabres this week. They do have the tools with potential to cause an upset. Their offence has shown great signs of flow in the opening two matches, and if Nathaniel Koko becomes slightly more aggressive with the ball, it will go a long way to securing an unexpected victory.

Woodville Warriors v Central Districts Lions


It’s a fight for a first win, as both sides look to improve from their 0-2 start to the 2021 season. 1-2 sounds a lot different to 0-3, so the stakes in this game are higher than it may look. The Warriors have shown glimpses of high quality basketball, but their issue comes in not being able to string together a four quarter performance. Emily Winter has been in remarkable form with 18 points and 20 rebounds last week, but hasn’t got the support required for victory to match it. This weekend is the opportunity they have been waiting for, as they face a side that is in even less form. The Lions’ 95-point defeat at the hands of the Sabres in Round 2 was a shock to many, but most of all the Lions themselves. The team would be significantly disappointed in their start to the season, not even looking in the contest over the first two games. Some serious improvement is needed if they are to notch their first win, but stranger things have happened.


The Warriors had an excellent week in Round 2, defeating the Rockets by 34 points in a textbook performance. Woodville grabbed control in the first quarter and never let go, constantly harassing their opponents on the defensive end and creating shots for themselves on the offensive end. Joe Jackson and Julian Jacobs both had strong outings in this match, and should be looking to back it up this weekend. The Lions couldn’t back up their Round 1 victory with a win over the Sabres in Round 2, but it isn’t all doom and gloom. Lual Diing continued his strong start to the season and they started the game well. They can be quietly confident heading into this clash, despite the underdog tag. Expect a close battle.

2021 NBL1 Central: Round 2 – Review

IT was a good round for Sturt Sabres in the NBL1 Central with the side clinching strong wins in both the men’s and women’s while South Adelaide Panthers also impressed. It was a mixed bag of results with both leagues seeing some close calls and some huge blowouts as the teams continue to blow off the cobwebs two weeks in.


Norwood Flames (90) defeated Forestville Eagles (83)

Norwood Flames notched up their first win of the season, getting over the top of the Eagles by seven points in a game filled with twists and turns. The Eagles claimed the ascendancy early creating a nine point buffer and extended it to 11 at half time before Norwood flipped the script in the second half. A strong third quarter boasting 28 points to 16 was the real game changer, pushing Forestville onto the back foot, and they just could not recover. CJ Turnage was the main instigator for the Flames sinking an impressive 37 points at 60 per cent while also reeling in nine rebounds and two steals. Daniel Webber made a splash with 14 points as Matt Lycett contributed 12 to the winning total. For the Eagles it came down to the performance of two key players in Michael Harris and Jake Rios. Harris dominated with 35 points and eight rebounds as Rios secured 17 points and three assists in the narrow loss.

Eastern Mavericks (82) defeated South Adelaide Panthers (105)

The Panthers notched up their second win of the season, convincingly downing the Mavericks by 23 points credit to a dominant first and last quarter. Both sides proved to have no issue finding the rim but could not sustain that level of scoring intensity for a full four quarters with the Panthers getting well beaten in the second (34-24) but able to bounce back in the second half to restore the winning margin. Nathaniel Koko led the way with 20 points as Rigby Aktanarowic chimed in with a handy 18 points and six rebounds. Jordan Robertson was the other one able to have an influence sinking 15 points. For the Panthers it is hard to go past the services of Todd Davies who topscored with 25 points while Codey Ellison had a game to remember thanks to his 15 points and 19 rebounds. Jarryd Hoppo and Kristian Ciabattoni were other main facilitators for South Adelaide.

Southern Tigers (88) defeated by West Adelaide Bearcats (96)

The battle between the Bearcats and Tigers caused plenty of intrigue with only eight points separating them at the final break and going in the favour of the latter. It was the Bearcats’ first win of the season, leaving the Tigers ruing missed opportunities. Full player statistics and quarter scores are yet to be released at time of publish.

Central District Lions (70) defeated by Sturt Sabres (87)

Sturt Sabres kept the good times rolling producing another win while the Lions fell short by 17 points. Holding the lead heading into the first break, the Sabres worked in overdrive to reverse their fate and get back within striking distance in which they did. But their best efforts came in the third as the minimised the impact of the Lions keeping them to 10 points as they piled on 22 of their own. Lual Diing was a strong performer for Central District finishing with 18 points and five rebounds to his name with Magok Manyang also notching up 18 points of his own. Jordan Centenera was also handy with 12 points at 63 per cent from the field. Sam Daly was impressive for the Sabres sinking 18 points as Joel Spear and Jack Turnbull also got busy to keep the scoreboard ticking over. Keanu Rasmussen made his presence felt with a 17 point, five rebound and two steal performance.

North Adelaide Rockets (61) defeated by Woodville Warriors (95)

The Rockets remain winless after two rounds as the Warriors handed them a 34-point loss, credit to their class across the court and defensive pressure to repeatedly shut down their attacking forays. The Warriors led every step of the way, outscoring their opponents in each quarter and steadily building on their momentum through the likes of Luke Stanbridge (25 points and three rebounds) and Julian Jacobs (18 points, nine rebounds and 11 assists). They were ably assisted by the likes of Joe Jackson who managed 18 points and 12 rebounds of his own in the win. Jimma Dau was the most proficient for the Rockets nailing 13 points at a lowly 29 per cent from the field while Tobias Dowdell was hot on his tail with 12 points and 10 rebounds.



Norwood Flames (65) defeated by Forestville Eagles (68)

The game went down to the wire as the Eagles just snuck home against the Flames to secure a hard-fought three-point win. Bursting out of the gates in the first quarter the Eagles were forced to play catchup against Norwood and did just that with a scintillating third term proving to be the game changer. Slotting 22 points to 12, Forestville did enough to get back into the contest and maintain that level of momentum for the remainder of the game. Star recruit Alex Wilson was impressive for the Flames recording a triple double thanks to her 21 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists. Genna Anderson was handy with 15 points and 11 rebounds as Paige Kennihan made her presence felt thanks to her 15 points. Samantha Simons was the lead scorer for the victors contributing 19 points and 12 rebounds. In her 37 minutes on court Jordyn Freer sunk 17 points while Aimee Brett was influential with her 12 points and seven rebounds.

Eastern Mavericks (75) defeated by South Adelaide Panthers (103)

South Adelaide Panthers made it two wins straight to remain undefeated while the Mavericks are yet to register a win so far this season. The Panthers put in the hard yards from the opening buzzer and did not let up throughout the game winning every quarter and pressing hard defensively to nullify the influence of the Mavericks. Four players from South Adelaide made it out of single digits as Olivia Thompson dominated with a game-high 27 points in her 25 minutes on court. It did not stop there for Thompson who also reeled in 17 rebounds, 13 of which were defensive. Ashley Spencer complemented her with 19 points as Teresa McGreehan sunk 15 points in her 20 minutes. Hannah Stewart was the other able to effectively hit the scoreboard producing 14 points. Mollie McKendrick was the key cog for the Mavericks draining 21 points at 50 per cent from the field to accompany her 12 boards as Chloe Dumesny and Kedeisha Kartinyeri slotted 17 points apiece.

Southern Tigers (60) defeated West Adelaide Bearcats (54)

The Tigers did just enough to get over the line against West Adelaide securing a six-point win. A fast start set them up nicely for the game but panic started to set in throughout the second term as the Bearcats put the clamps on, shutting down the Tigers’ rhythm in attack and limiting them to a mere nine points for the half. But despite their best efforts the damage had already been done with Morgan Yaeger sinking 14 points for the winners. Teige Morrell and Jemma Thacker were other key contributors, while Sky Langenbrinck impacted the play with her nine points as Jennie Rintala got busy with her seven.

Central District Lions (39) defeated by Sturt Sabres (134)

It was a one-sided affair with Sturt Sabres holding no prisoners and making an absolute meal of Central District Lions despite their best efforts. They simply had no answers for the Sabres who exposed them on every front and flexed their muscles in offence to pile on 134 points while keeping their opponents to a mere 39 for the game. The Sabres best quarter was the fourth and while it was not their most proficient managing 33 points as opposed to the 38 they scored in the opening they limited the Lions to a mere four. Madelyn Curry led all comers with nine points with Meaza Otto and Casey Banwell hot on her heels for Central District producing seven points apiece. Samantha Kennett was handy both on the points scoring and rebounding front with six and six respectively. Jade Johnson seemed to bring her own ball to the game sinking a game-high 38 points at an impressive 79 per cent while teammate Kylee Smith was a livewire draining 25 points along with seven rebounds and six steals. Other considerable efforts from Meg Prosser, Jasmine Rigoni and Lauren Gibbons proved enough to get the side over the line.

North Adelaide Rockets (96) defeated Woodville Warriors (65)

North Adelaide Rockets made light work of Woodville Warriors claiming a 31-point win to hold onto to their undefeated mantle. Hitting the scoreboard with a sense of urgency in the opening term thanks to a 28-point to 12 term, the Rockets had the upper hand heading into the first change and maintained that dominance throughout. Their highest scoring quarter came in the last where they really put the nail in the coffin. Taylor Ortlepp, Rachel Mate and Sam Defrancesco proved that 20 was the magic number as they all recorded 20 points apiece in the win. Jess Good was the other livewire reeling in a staggering 22 rebounds. Emily Winter and Chloe Purvis both contributed 18 points to the Warriors’ total, as Winter dominated off the boards with 20 rebounds.

Fire overcome fast-starting Boomers to secure second spot

THE TOWNSVILLE Fire announced themselves as serious finals contenders, downing Melbourne Boomers by six points in an epic contest (70-64). In a fight for top four position, the two sides went head-to-head with the lead ebbing and flowing throughout the game, showcasing what was at stake and the high intensity both sides can bring to the table.

The Boomers got out to a flyer of a start, establishing a seven-point margin at the first break and keeping the Fire to single digits in the opening term. But Townsville showcased its grit and determination, finding a groove in the second term and piling on the pressure to turn the tables on the Boomers, who seemed to have things their own way in the opening period of play. The Fire made light work of Melbourne, notching up 31 points to 17. Things evened out in the second half with both teams establishing their rhythm and unable to be separated, but in the end the Fire had done enough to throw the Boomers and clinch a hard-fought victory.

Accuracy from the field was down for both sides, however the Fire managed to boast a higher percentage – sitting at 42 per cent compared to the Boomers’ 38. The Fire also starred from two point range, converting at a 50 per cent clip in nailing 21 of their 42 attempts, while the Boomers did not have the same luck sitting at 41 per cent. However, when it came to triples, that is where the Boomers impressed nailing eight of their 25 attempts at 32 per cent as opposed to the Fire’s 28 per cent. Shooting statistics aside, the Boomers seemed to have the upper hand in the majority of the other categories; recording a higher rebound count (40-39) and more assists (24-14), highlighting the different way the two clubs go about it on court. They also earned a higher steals and blocks tally (10-7) and (4-2), respectively showcasing their defensive intent but were somewhat costly on the turnover front (16-13).

Lauren Nicholson once again impressed for the Fire, with the guard dropping 23 points at 50 per cent from the field along with four assists, six rebounds and a steal, highlighting her ability to be constantly involved in the action. Teammate Shyla Heal was down on her usual output, only recording the seven points in her 33 minutes on court, however she still managed to have an impact off the boards with five rebounds, three assists, two steals and two blocks. Kate Gaze was another key contributor with 11 points while Zitina Aokuso starred for the Fire with her 16 points at an impressive 87 per cent from the field. Aokuso also managed seven rebounds, six of which were defensive, along with a steal to cap off an impressive performance from the youngster. Nadeen Payne also chimed in for a handy eight points and seven rebounds to help get her side over the line.

There were three main contributors for the Melbourne Boomers who were unable to generate as much impact as they would have liked off the bench, but still had key figures that were able to keep them in touching distance of the Fire. Ezi Magbegor led the charge for Melbourne, with the forward proving to be a menace and recording a team-high 20 points at an all-round 64 per cent accuracy. It did not stop there for her, amassing 10 rebounds to collect another double-double while also picking up three assists and one steal. The ever-reliable captain, Cayla George was the next best with 18 points across her 36 minutes on court, but she did the most damage off the boards with a staggering 17 rebounds which accompanied her three steals, three blocks and four assists. Tess Madgen also contributed for the Boomers knocking back 11 points while also collecting eight assists and four rebounds.

The Fire look ahead to ladder leaders Southside Flyers in the semi-final on Wednesday while Melbourne faces off against the Caps early in the day.

Flyers flex their muscles with convincing win over Caps

Photo by Ian Hitchcock/Getty Images

It was always going to be an exciting battle between back-to-back premiers UC Capitals and the star studded line-up of Southside Flyers, but in the end it was the latter that prevailed in a convincing performance to run out with a 19-point victory (82-101).  The ladder leaders are building some serious momentum heading into the finals and are clearly primed as premiership favourites, as shown by their dominant performance on Sunday.

It was a high scoring match from the opening minutes of the game with both sides renowned for their attacking mentality and ability to hit the scoreboard with great ease. The Flyers got out to a handy start and did not look like giving up the lead at any stage, continuously pushing to extend their margin. Despite a better quarter in the second from the Caps nailing 23 points to 20, the Flyers still had the momentum and the lead. But they dealt the most damage in the third quarter when they went on a scoring spree, nailing 32 points to 19 to all but seal the deal. The Flyers had a real sense of desperation and urgency in their gameplay and that showed throughout the game, outscoring their opponents in the final term as well.

Scoring proved to be no issue for the Flyers who managed an impressive 51 per cent from the field, nailing 40 of their 77 attempts while the Caps travelled at a 40 per cent conversion rate. Southside starred from downtown, sitting at a whopping 62 per cent in slotting 18 from their 29 attempts, while it was a different story for the Capitals who only managed a mere 26 per cent from outside the arc. When it came to rebounds UC had things all their own way, recoding 47 to 34 to showcase their strength off the boards, but the Flyers seemed to have their number in all the other aspects such as assists (29-23), steals (6-4) and blocks (5-1). The ladder leaders were also cleaner with ball in hand and treasured possession, only notching up 10 turnovers as opposed to 15 while when it came to points in the paint, the Flyers also had the upper hand recording 42 to 28.

Despite being in the losing side there was no shortage of options with the likes of Marianna Tolo leading the way for the Capitals with her 23 points, six rebounds and two assists. The scoring dropped off after her with Jade Melbourne the next closest with 12 points in a strong performance off the bench. Madison Rocci and Kelsey Griffin were both handy options for the Capitals, combining for 21 points, nine rebounds and three assists while Keely Froling also chimed in with 10 points of her own in her 25 minutes on court. Although Mikaela Ruef did not have a profound impact on the scoreboard thanks to her six points, her strength off the board was unquestionable, reeling in 12 rebounds with eight of them defensive.

Six players all managed double figures for the Flyers with Rebecca Cole headlining the side with her 23 points and eight rebounds. Cole took the game by the scruff of the neck and starred while the ever-reliable Liz Cambage continued her merry way with another dominant performance collecting 18 points at 53 per cent and 12 rebounds. Aimie Clydesdale managed to have an influence thanks to her 13 points, two rebounds and six assists as did teammate Leilani Mitchell who just fell short of a double-double with nine rebounds and 14 points. Sara Blicavs dominated off the bench in a stats stuffing performance thanks to her 16 points, six rebounds and five assists haul while Stephanie Blicavs managed 11 points of her own in the win.

Looking ahead, the Flyers prepare for Townsville Fire in the semi-final on Wednesday while the Caps gear up for Melbourne.

Flames end season on a high

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After somewhat of an up and down season for both sides it was the Sydney Uni Flames that got the last laugh, securing a 26-point victory over Adelaide Lightning (86-60). With both teams out of the running for finals it was a matter of pride and determination which the Flames oozed plenty of as they kicked it up a gear in the final term to really ram home the win.

It was an even start to the game with the Flames and Lightning settling into the action and feeling each other out before Sydney found its mojo in the second term and put on the afterburners. Sensing a blowout, Adelaide turned the tables in the third term, going toe-to-toe with the Flames and scoring 18 points apiece, but that was not enough to worry Sydney who still had a handy buffer. The final quarter of action was where things really started to unravel with the Flames attacking the rim with great ease and piling on the scoreboard pressure thanks to their 29 to 14 point term to notch up their fifth win for the season.

Field goal percentage for both sides was down with the Flames converting at 39 per cent while Adelaide managed 35 per cent. The Lightning had better luck when it came to two point range sitting at 42 per cent while Sydney only managed 37 per cent. The roles were reversed when it came to three-pointers with the victors holding the upper hand, nailing eight of their 18 attempts at 44 per cent while the Lightning only managed 24 per cent. The Flames collected more rebounds (48-41), steals (14-7) and had less turnovers (10-20) while when it came to assists Adelaide impressed with 16-12.

Lauren Mansifeld seemed to have her own ball out on court for the Flames, sinking a game-high 31 points in a dominant shooting display from the guard. She also managed four assists and an uncharacteristic three turnovers. Mansfield was well-aided by Alison Schwagmeyer who recorded 16 points but could have had more had she been more accurate from the field, sitting at 33 per cent while also amassing seven rebounds and two assists. Anneli Maley was a commanding force off the backboards, recording a whopping 15 rebounds, 12 of which were defensive while Lauren Scherf plied her trade sinking 11 points in the win.

Although it was not the way the Lightning would have liked for the game to have gone down, there were a couple of key contributors with Steph Talbot once again leading the way. Talbot had a hot hand converting 22 points at 56 per cent while also dragging down 13 rebounds to record yet another double-double. Alex Wilson was the only other player to reach double figures with her 12 points and proved to be a real playmaker with ball in hand, amassing seven assists and a steal. Abigail Wehrung had an influence on the scoreboard, albeit limited, but still managed eight points in her 32 minutes on court.

Lightning strike to keep slim finals hopes alive

WITH finals just within their reach Adelaide Lightning had one job to do – win – and that is exactly what they did downing Bendigo Spirit by 10 points in an enthralling battle. Sitting two games outside of the top four and with two games still left to play Adelaide left nothing to chance to put themselves in good shape to make a potential finals tilt if things go their way.

A fast starting Bendigo side shocked the Lightning as they piled on 23 points to 12 in a dominant opening term. Despite Adelaide getting the first points on the board, the Spirit had other plans in the first few minutes of play extending out to as much as a 12 point lead at the six minute mark (14-2) thanks to their accuracy and silky movement. Staring down the barrel of an 11 point deficit the Lightning quickly picked up the pieces in the second quarter finding their rhythm to get back onto level pegging’s and even up the playing field to head into the main break down by a mere point. That hot momentum continued into the third as they doubled their opponents 13 points to knock back 26 points in the term and create a handy buffer heading into the final change of a must win game. the scoring well and truly dried up in the final quarter of action with both sides combining for 22 points and the Spirit actually outscoring the Lightning, the damage had already been done allowing the Lightning to keep their finals hopes alive if all goes to plan from here on out.

Both sides shot at a relatively low clip from the field although Adelaide had a slightly higher  accuracy sitting at 38 per cent compared to Bendigo’s 34 per cent. In terms of two point range that is where the Lightning did their most damage nailing 17 of 31 attempts at 54 per cent while the shots just were not sinking for Bendigo only managing 36 per cent. However their long range shooting was a fraction better than their opponents registering a conversion rate of 29 per cent while the victors sat at 20 per cent. Bendigo were strong on the rebounds reeling in whatever fell short to collect 11 more than Adelaide (48-37). On the assists front Adelaide led the way (17-13) while also taking the cake for steals (9-2) showcasing their defensive intent. Turnovers was another key area as the Lightning only recorded eight for the game while Bendigo had 14.

The scoring was somewhat shared between a number of players but it is no surprise that Steph Talbot led the way with a team-high 15 points at 42 per cent accuracy from the field. She also managed six rebounds, five of which were defensive along with an impressive three steals highlighting her cleanliness and defensive class. Alex Wilson was not far behind on the scoring front knocking back 14 points while three seemed to be the magic number for the guard recording three rebounds, three assists and three steals. Abigail Wehrung played a strong role in her 29 minutes on court amassing 12 points, two rebounds and three assists while Chelsea Brook could have had a bigger day out had she been more accurate converting at a lowly 28 per cent from the field but still managed 11 points along with five rebounds and two assists. Marena Whittle was the only other Lightning player to reach double figures with 10 points to her name. Whittle also reeled in five rebounds and three steals while Louella Tomlinson proved to be a handy option off the bench with her five points, four rebounds and three assists.

It was a one woman show for Bendigo with the ever-reliable Carley Ernst steering the ship from start to finish with her game-high haul of 32 points. Ernst was a menace across the court nailing four triples and boasting a 44 per cent accuracy from the field highlighting her overall dominance. Not only did she do damage on the scoreboard and keep her side in the hunt for a win but starred off the boards with a whopping 15 rebounds, 11 defensive to round out a solid performance from the forward. The next best was Tessa Lavey who played the entire game and managed to walk away with 17 points, five rebounds and six assists to her name however was costly with ball in hand racking up four turnovers. The scoring well and truly dropped off after Lavey and Ernst with Alicia Froling the closest with a mere four points which accompanied her five rebounds and three assists. Although Chevannah Paalvast did not manage to hit the scoreboard in her 30 minutes on court she proved to be handy on the rebound finishing with seven.

It was a seesawing affair but once the Lightning had control they did not let go but will want to have a fast start in their next clash on Saturday against Townsville who currently hold fourth spot if they are to both topple them and keep their finals hopes alive. For Bendigo they now prepare for the Boomers on Saturday.

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

Fire take down Caps in a stunning performance

TOWNSVILLE Fire caused a major upset in the WNBL, claiming a 13-point win over UC Capitals in a seesawing affair (84-71). The win marks the Fire’s seventh of the season and keeps them in touch with the top four while it is the second loss in as many days for the Capitals. It has not altered their ladder position too much though, thanks to their strong hold on second place.

Fire skipped out to a strong start and really put the foot down in the second term with a dominant showing thanks to their 24 points to 11. They managed to shut down the typically all-powerful Capitals side before things started to even up in the second half. Managing 19 points apiece in the third quarter, the Capitals came out with a real fire in the belly in the last quarter mounting somewhat of a comeback to outscore Townsville and spark plenty of concern through the Fire camp, but it was not enough to overrun the home side which had created a decent lead and were not ready to give up the “W”.

It was a hard day at the office for the Caps with the Canberra-based side unable to find the basket, sitting at a mere 28 per cent from the field only converting 22 of their 76 chances. On the flip-side, Townsville had a much better day sitting at 48 per cent and impressed from inside the arc nailing 21 of their 37 attempts at 56 per cent compared to 31 per cent. Free throw percentage was another point of difference with the Fire capitalising on their chances at the charity stripe with 75 per cent to 70 per cent. Despite struggling on the scoreboard, the Caps starred off the backboard amassing 49 compared to 35 while they also notched up 15 assists to nine. When it came to turnovers the Fire were much cleaner with ball in hand registering 12 while they also flexed their muscles when it came to points inside the paint with 30-24.

Youngster Shyla Heal seemed to have the ball on a string unable to do no wrong, racking up a game-high 27 points shooting at 58 per cent along with eight rebounds and three assists. Lauren Nicholson was the next best with the guard inflicting plenty of pain on the scoreboard with 25 points to her name and five rebounds, four of which were defensive. Nadeen Payne was the only other player to register double digits for points with 11 while also amassing eight rebounds in her 28 minutes on court. Youngster Zitina Aokuso was down on her usual performance but still managed to record seven points, three rebounds and one assist.

Although the big stars did not step up to the plate it was Maddison Rocci that led the way for the Caps recording 19 points at 43 per cent. Rocci slotted five triples in her outing while also amassing three rebounds, one assist and two steals. Kelsey Griffin had an influence with her 10 points and seven rebounds in 20 minutes on court as Mikaela Ruef chimed in with nine points and an impressive 12 rebounds. Keely Froling also hit the scoreboard albeit not in a big way, with her eight points and seven rebounds – six of which were offensive.

The Capitals next look to Perth in hope to secure their ninth win while Townsville next face Adelaide Lightning.

Perth secure nail-biter


PERTH Lynx clinched a two-point victory over Adelaide Lightning in a tight contest on Sunday night with the two sides going toe-to-toe for majority of the game (78-80). The victory marked the third straight win for the Lynx who have found some solid form in the back half of the season while Adelaide have faltered in the past couple of outings, with four straight losses.

Adelaide burst out of the blocks with a scintillating start to the game showcasing their dominance and scoring prowess early piling on 28 points to 19. The tables turned in the second quarter with Perth firing back to go on a 26 point to 13 spree and somewhat level the playing field. It was tit for tat for most of the game as the two sides traded blows, with the Lightning rediscovering their form in the third to reclaim the ascendancy and grab a hold of the game. But when it came down to the final quarter Lynx left no stone unturned firing on all cylinders and outscoring the Lightning in the final term to secure an almighty win.

Despite having a lower shooting percentage from the field 33 to 40 it did not stop Perth from stealing the win. Adelaide impressed from two-point range sitting at 41 per cent sinking 16 of their 39 attempts while Perth struggled to find the basket sitting at a mere 28 per cent with 17 from 60. Lynx had the upper hand from range sitting at 46 per cent while Adelaide managed 40 per cent. Rebounding was another strength of Perth (58-44) while when it came to assists the Lightning notched up 23 to 20 and also came out on top in blocks (4-2) and steals (5-4).

The scoring was shared between a number of key players for the Lynx but it was young gun Darcee Garbin that led the pack with her impressive 31 points and 11 rebounds in a double-double performance. Garbin was involved in just about everything and was well aided by teammate Alex Ciabattoni who slotted 15 points in her 30 minutes on court while also registering seven rebounds and three assists. The ever reliable Katie Ebzery stepped up to the plate with her 12 points and 10 assists in another strong showing while Kayla Steidl also managed to find the scoreboard with relative ease picking up 11 points and 11 rebounds to help her side get over the line.

There were only two main scoring options for the Lightning with star Steph Talbot dominating once again. Talbot managed a game-high 23 points to accompany her 13 rebounds and seven assists although it was not enough to get her side over the line. Chelsea Brook plied her trade with 16 points, five rebounds and three assists in her 37 minutes on court despite her shooting percentage being a mere 50 per cent. Abigail Wehrung chimed in with a handy eight points, seven assists and two rebounds while Alex Wilson also managed to hit the scoreboard with her eight points.

It is a short turnaround between games for Adelaide with the side facing off with the third placed Melbourne Boomers while Perth also play on Tuesday against the lowly placed Sydney Uni Flames.

Flyers produce another dominant win to take care of Lightning

THERE has been no shortage of dominant Southside Flyers wins this season, but the Women’s National Basketball League (WNBL) heavyweights completely dismantled Adelaide Lightning in a dominant 111-72 victory last night. The Flyers were just unbelievably good hitting more than half of their field goals, including 57 per cent from two-point range and 38 per cent from long-range, and never looked like losing, winning every quarter by at least seven points.

From the first tip-off Southside got off to a flyer piling on 29 points to 22 in a high-scoring opening term, then blew away the Lightning with a massive 31-17 second quarter. Up by 21 already at the half, the Flyers did not take the foot off the pedal, pouring on another 30 points to 20, and the game was done and dusted as the Flyers were out to a 31-point advantage. Needing to stem the bleeding in the final quarter, the Lightning managed to make it closer, but they still lost the term by eight, going down in a one-sided contest with the Flyers flexing their muscles on their way to a whopping 39-point win.

The Flyers won all the key statistics, with their accuracy being a huge feature of the game, particularly worrying the defence when getting to the basket, nailing 19 of 23 for an 82 per cent clip, whilst the Lightning only had four free throws for the entire game. The rebounds were fairly even with 42-39 in favour of the winners, but they were clearly the better team in assists (31-17) and steals (15-4), and crucified the Lightning on their turnovers.

Adelaide had 25 turnovers to 10, with the Flyers taking full advantage, scoring 33 points to five off the turnover, as well as 20 fast break points to 11. They still had plenty of contribution off their bench thanks to 31 points compared to 22, and also only produced 10 personal fouls to 18. It was as dominant performance as there had been all season.

Liz Cambage just dominated again and was a class above, hitting 12 of her 16 field goals, getting to the line more often than the entire opposition side, and finishing with 29 points and six rebounds. She was far from alone though, as Jenna O’Hea hit 18 points, four rebounds, six assists and four steals, and Rebecca Cole had 16 points, two rebounds, two assists and two steals. Impressively, neither had a turnover on the night, nor did playmaker Leilani Mitchell who racked up eight points and seven assists.

Every player on the Flyers’ side scored, as Monique Conti made the most of more court time in the match, putting up 10 points, five rebounds, three assists and one steal in 13 minutes, while the Blicavs – Sara and Steph – combined for 16 points, 14 rebounds, five assists, two steals and two blocks.

For the Lightning, Alex Wilson hit a team-high 13 points, nine rebounds, four assists and one block, as one of five players who reached double-figure points. The Lightning shared the points around, as Chelsea Brook came off the bench for 12 points, seven rebounds and two assists. Steph Talbot (11 points, six rebounds and two assists), Abigail Wehrung (11 points, two rebounds and two assists) and Marena Whittle (10 points, three rebounds) all had an impact.

The Flyers moved to the top of the table with the victory and now can rest up before facing a Melbourne Boomers lineup that will be up for its fourth game this week, while the Lightning will need to shake off the loss for a huge clash against back-to-back premiers University of Canberra Capitals on Friday night.

Picture: Albert Perez/Getty Images

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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.