Tag: alice kunek

WNBL opens up Free Agency period, Jackson praises league

The Women’s National Basketball League (WNBL) had announced earlier this morning that the Free Agency Period for the WNBL 2020/21 season would begin from 1pm AEST and that all eight of the WNBL’s clubs could begin contract negotiations with their Unrestricted Free Agents from this afternoon.

This season’s current Free Agency headliners are in abundance, as numerous Opals representatives are on the block to possibly re-sign with their original teams or test the market for a new location. The list comprises of superstars like Alice Kunek (Sydney Uni Flames), Tess Madgen (Townsville Fire) and Darcee Garbin (Townsville Fire) just to name a few.

We know the futures of three players from last season, as veteran superstars Nat Hurst (Adelaide Lightning), Gabe Richards (Bendigo Spirit) and Sarah Graham (Sydney Uni Flames) have all announced their retirements following the conclusion of the 2020 season.

Another group of players for WNBL fans to keep an eye on, are those who played last season in the WNBA, as per league sources, Liz Cambage (Las Vegas Aces), Bec Allen (New York Liberty), Alanna Smith (Phoenix Mercury) and Sami Whitcomb (Seattle Storm) are all also possible signees for the upcoming season, which could beef up the competition tremendously in terms of skill, ability and profile.

To make keeping track of movements of the players and who’s available on the market, the WNBL has created a list of all of the league’s current Free Agents, and a Tracker to log all the moves that said Free Agents make during the offseason.

2020-21 Free Agent List: Click Here

2020-21 Free Agency Tracker: Click Here

In the midst of the league’s announcement this morning, Basketball Australia’s Head of Women in Basketball Lauren Jackson chimed in to promote and express her pride in the WNBL and the level of play the league is responsible for. Here’s what she had to say.

“The WNBL should be considered the template for how to develop world-class athletes for both domestic and international honours while delivering a product which is envied by the rest of the world.

“We are entering an extremely exciting period for Australian women’s basketball, with the delayed Tokyo Olympics in July 2021 and Sydney set to host the 2022 Women’s Basketball World Cup. With the Opals currently ranked number two in the world and the Gems finishing with the silver medal at last year’s FIBA 19s World Cup, never has there been a greater opportunity for Australia to claim that title as the world’s best women’s basketball nation.

“In addition to the sensational Australian talent who have either re-signed or on the Free Agency List for next season, the WNBL could welcome back some of our homegrown superstars including the likes of Liz Cambage and Alanna Smith, which would be phenomenal for the WNBL.”

With the season to begin on November 20, each club now has a clearer picture on the timeline they have to work with and prepare their rosters for WNBL 2020/21.

Broadcasting details for next season are soon to be announced in “due course”, says the league.

Draft Central’s 2019/20 WNBL Top 10 Players: #1 – Kia Nurse

DRAFT Central’s formula for deciding this season’s top player of the WNBL was a rather simple one. Similarly to the NBL’s top player of the season, Bryce Cotton, the WNBL’s MVP and top-scorer, Kia Nurse, would reign supreme in terms of success individually and as a teammate. As this this season’s 2019/20 WNBL Champion, University of Canberra (UC) Capitals would defend their title, claiming their ninth in franchise history.

Having already spent a season with the Capitals, Nurse would hit the ground running, opening up her 2020 campaign with a 28-point and seven-rebound performance against the Adelaide Lightning, quickly establishing herself as one of the league’s most deadly offensive weapons. Throughout the entire season, Nurse would continue to provide an abundance of minutes for Paul Gorris’s side, only twice playing less than 32 minutes in a game, therefore leading the league in minutes per game by the end of Round 16, averaging 37.1 (1.4 minutes higher than Alice Kunek). But, the main headline act for the Canadian, was her scoring prowess. Going the entire fixture without scoring single digits is one accomplishment, but to average over 20 points per game throughout the entire competition would have already been enough to secure an MVP award for the 24-year-old.

Helping her side to a 15-win season alongside the likes of Marianna Tolo, Olivia Epoupa, Kelsey Griffin and Keeley Froling, Nurse would receive her second straight All-WNBL First Team selection, the Capitals’ Best and Fairest Award and the Suzy Batkovic Medal (League-MVP) to round out one of the league’s best individual season performances in history. Nurse is grateful of the system she was put in, as it allowed her to develop her offence even more.

“I was allowed to be in a system in Australia where I was a lot more free than any system I’ve played in since my high school days. “That allowed me to kind of get confidence back into my offensive game … and that was pretty exciting.” Playing four years at the UConn Huskies while she attended college, Nurse found out the formula for success is not given, it is earned, which is why the two-time NCAA Champion knew that her 21 regular season games were just stepping stones to the real prize.

The hard work would begin against the Melbourne Boomers in their semi-final series, with their matchup going to a deciding Game Three. Nurse would need every ounce of her will, to help get her side over the line against the wily Boomers side. Playing all 40 minutes at home, Nurse’s hard-fought 18 points, five rebounds, three assists and two steals, would be enough to get the Capitals to the finish line taking the contest, 77-64, with their extraordinary defence being the main proponent of their win. With the Boomers in their rear-view mirror, the Caps would look to topple the best team in the league to this point, the Southside Flyers.

Knowing full well that their best bet to win the series would be to steal Game One in Dandenong, Nurse would again be called on to play most of the game (she would average 39 minutes per game in the series). Scoring 19 points and securing five rebounds in Game One, the Capitals would steal the opening game of the series by a single bucket, forcing a decisive Game Two back home in Canberra. With Game Two being an all-out war between both sides, the Capitals found themselves down by a point with less than 30 seconds to go, but the always reliable Epoupa (Finals-MVP) would find the WNBL’s top scorer open for three, as Nurse would knock it down and win the Capitals their second straight championship. “It was obviously a fairy-tale ending to a really good story,” said Nurse reflecting on what was nothing short of a perfect season.

Whether imports will be allowed to play next season or not is yet to be confirmed by the WNBL given the severity of COVID-19, but if they are, then the likelihood of a WNBL three-peat for the first time since the Adelaide Lightning dynasty of 1994-96 may very well be on the cards for the Capitals, as they continue to be at the forefront of Australian basketball success.

Draft Central’s WNBL 2019/20 Top 10 Players: #9 – Alice Kunek

WHILE the Sydney Uni Flames had many bumps in the road on the way to their seven-win and 14-loss season record in the Women’s National Basketball League (WNBL), there were many positives that could be drawn upon. One of those was Alice Kunek‘s season who comes in at number nine in Draft Central’s Top 10 WNBL players of the season.

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Despite missing four games due to an elbow injury sustained at the end of the season, Kunek still established herself as one of the league’s most proficient scorers. Kunek came into the season off four games with Eltham Wildcats in the NBL1 competition where she racked up 22 points, eight rebounds and almost five assists per game. By the end of the WNBL season, she was ranked second amongst the top point-getters, averaging 18.9 points per game (trailing only Kia Nurse). Opening up her season with a 16-point, six assist and three-rebound night against the Lightning, it was evident early on that Kunek would provide a significant amount of production with the rest of the season to come.

Her team as a whole found it difficult to pick up the slack, as the Flames would win just two games in their opening seven contests of the season, setting the scene for form that would ensue for the rest of the season. Kunek, who has in the past been selected to represent the Opals, relied heavily on her experience to help her squad where she could. She dropped 20 or more points on eight different occasions, most noticeably the 30 points she gathered in her final game of the season, where she also picked up six rebounds and two steals.

Another aspect of the 29-year-old, that was constantly awing spectators, was her determination and endurance. With Kunek playing 35 minutes or more night in and night out, she would amass amongst the biggest amount of court time over the course of the campaign, again, ranking second in the category of total minutes, averaging 35.7 per contest. Currently, with Kunek’s foreseeable future still unclear as she approaches the end of her elbow’s rehab, whether the Tokyo 2020 Olympics will go ahead or not – now in 2021 – remains undetermined.

However, we do know that Kunek will be looking to help her side improve on this past season’s results, when the WNBL 2020/21 season gets underway. Following the conclusion of the Flames’ season, Kunek had the honour of being awarded the club’s Most Valuable Player and was lucky enough to receive an All-WNBL Second Team nomination.

NBL1 South Women’s team summary: Eltham Wildcats

IN light of the COVID-19 global pandemic, the National Basketball League (NBL)1 South Conference has been cancelled this year. As such, while Draft Central intended to do a preview on all teams leading up to the delayed start, it will instead be a team summary from last season and what they might look to improve on for 2021. Today’s edition looks at Eltham Wildcats women’s side that marginally missed out on finals.

2019 in Review:

Finished: 9th
Wins: 10
Losses: 10
Home: 4-6
Away: 6-4

What went right:

  • Four starters averaging double-figure points
  • Started strongly with a 7-4 win-loss record
  • Three-point accuracy (35.6 per cent per game, ranked second overall)
  • Free-throw accuracy (77.6 per cent per game, ranked fifth overall)
  • Only had five losses of double-digit points

It was a heart-breaking year for the Wildcats in more ways than one, but the reason it was heart-breaking was because of all the positives that were not quite enough. They only recorded five double-digit losses to show how competitive they were, but turn that around so the five single-digit losses are wins, and suddenly they have a double chance in the playoffs. They were accurate with their shooting, ranking in the top five from the free-throw line and second overall from long-range. The Wildcats started the season strongly, winning seven of the first 11, and that could have been more with back-to-back two-point, and then a three-point loss to tip off June. The fact Eltham had four of its starters averaging double-figure points – and five when Alice Kunek came into the fold – showed just how deadly they could be.

What went wrong:

  • Alice Kunek only managing five games
  • Five losses in six games in winter
  • Rebounding (34.9 total per game, ranked 17th overall)
  • Steals (6.6 per game, ranked 16th overall)

Obviously Eltham would have loved to have had Kunek for more than five games, because when she returned, the results followed suit. The Wildcats won three of their last four games of the season, and if they had Kunek all season, then they could be staring at a really fruitful year. The five losses in June ultimately killed the playoff chances, even though the Wildcats were in it until the final day. The tough three losses of a combined seven points were heart-breakers, and a four-point loss to Basketball Australia Centre of Excellence was the final nail in the coffin for the Wildcats – who also struggled in the rebounding and steals areas – but had plenty of other positives from the season.

Top Players:

Chelsie Schweers

Playing 34 minutes per game, Schweers averaged 23.1 points, 4.3 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 1.4 steals in a promising season for the experience guard. Five years older than any other player on the side starting the season – and 15 years older than the 14-year-old Dyani Ananiev – Schweers led by her actions, with an accurate 57.1 per cent from the field, 40.8 per cent from long-range and 84.2 per cent from the free-throw line. It would be fair to say Schweers was one of, if not the best three-point shooter in the competition, sinking 84 of 206 attempts and being a player opposition defences could not leave open.

Chelsea Brook

The talented 20-year-old could well have been in the Young Gun category, but had such a terrific season she earned her place as one of the clear standouts across the season. She averaged 12.7 points, 7.2 rebounds, 2.7 assists, 1.5 steals and 1.0 blocks per game to pad the stats across the board, but crucially led the way in steals and offensive rebounds, the two areas that the team really struggled. She has shown at WNBL level what she is capable of, and has a big future in the sport.

Megan Mulligan

The leading rebounds in the team, Mulligan managed 18 games in the season and put up 13.6 points to go with her 8.2 rebounds. Mulligan was able to get close to the basket and sink 46.9 per cent of her shots to the field, and then went to the foul line for a 74.4 per cent success rate. She was not an outside shooter like her teammates, but was another standout player off the offensive boards, ranking in rebounds and helping her side to second chance opportunities.

Young Gun:

Abbey Ellis

The talented teenager managed 13 games and was a huge Sixth Player in the side when she did get out on court, averaging a high 28 minutes per game coming off the bench. She finished the season with 8.5 points, 4.1 rebounds, 2.5 assists and an equal team-high 1.5 steals, which helped her add a point of difference on the court. With 21 of her 23 free-throws going down, she was a player opposition teams could not afford to foul, and has the ability to shot from either inside or outside the arc.

Christmas list for 2021:

Height. The Wildcats were one of the shorter sides when it came to the top-end stars, with the tallest player being Mulligan measuring in at 188cm. If they could find a 190-plus big who could share the load, or develop one of their teenagers who are almost that height already, then that would provide even great support off the boards and help with that area of improvement.

Summary:

The Eltham Wildcats had a season of what could have been, with plenty of positives, and then plenty of almost-there moments which could have changed the course of their season. With a bit of luck and a few adjustments here or there, the Wildcats are another team who could be a contender in 2021 with an abundance of talented youth coming through the ranks to support the experienced players.

2019/20 WNBL Round 15 preview: Capitals and Lightning look to make charge

IT is now or never for the two sides just outside the top two positions on the Women’s National Basketball League (WNBL) ladder with the University of Canberra (UC) Capitals and Adelaide Lightning needing victories if they are to force their way into the favourable finals spots. The season might be over for four teams, but pride is still on the line, and they can still impact the finals series with some upsets in the penultimate round of action.

UC CAPITALS vs. PERTH LYNX
Wednesday, January 22, 7pm
National Convention Centre

The standalone Wednesday night fixture is the re-scheduled Round 12 game between University of Canberra (UC Capitals) and Perth Lynx, which was delayed due to the recent heavy smoke plaguing the nation’s capital three weeks ago. With just two rounds to go, the WNBL deemed it was the right time and safe enough with the forecasted weather, for the game to go ahead. With Perth already scheduled for a Friday night game, the match had to be at least a couple of days earlier hence the Wednesday night time slot. This game will really add an extra element to the WNBL Round 15, with the Capitals able to put pressure on the top two sides. While the points differential means they cannot overtake the Boomers on one win alone, it moves them to within one victory of overtaking them. A loss however, and they could slip to fourth with an upset win for the Adelaide Lightning over Southside Flyers. So far this season the Capitals are 7-1 at home with only the Flyers having found the key to victory, and are coming off two vital wins over the Boomers and Flyers in Round 14. For the Lynx, the season might be over with a three and a half gap deficit to the Lightning, but they are the best of the rest and are the leading side to finish fifth on the table. In the two clashes thus far, the Capitals have got up by comfortable margins of 18 and 17 points in November and December respectively. Kia Nurse is coming off a 33-point game against the Flyers and now averages 20.8 points, 3.9 rebounds and 2.7 assists per game, while Marianna Tolo has stepped up in the absence of teammates with 14.2 points, 8.2 rebounds and 1.6 blocks per game in the center, while Maddison Rocci benefited from a step-up in time and role to post 19 points in the Capitals’ win in Round 14. Perth will hope to take greater advantage of a Capitals side missing Kelsey Griffin and Keely Froling, with Katie-Rae Ebzery ever-consistent this season, posting 15.7 points, 4.7 rebounds, 4.6 assists and 1.4 steals per game. Nadeen Payne (10.3 points, 4.1 rebounds) and Lauren Mansfield (9.9 points, 3.4 rebounds, 4.5 assists and 1.8 steals) are the other two Lynx players who have started every match and will be crucial in the match.

BENDIGO SPIRIT vs. PERTH LYNX
Friday, January 24, 7pm
Bendigo Stadium

Backing up from Wednesday night’s game, Perth travels south to meet Bendigo Spirit on Friday night. The Lynx will have a huge chance of collecting a win over the bottom placed side, even though they have struggled on the road with a 2-5 record that could be 2-6 by the game’s tipoff. Bendigo have been much stronger at home than away, winning four of 10 at home whilst not winning a game while visiting. The teams have played twice this season and the last time they met in Bendigo, the Spirit got up by 12 points in a great win. Perth sought revenge in the Round 13 match however, knocking over Bendigo by 19 points in Perth. Neither of these sides can make finals, but a win for the Spirit would move them closer to the Fire with the bottom two sides facing off in the last round, while the Lynx can gain some separation on the bottom three sides. Bendigo has just the two players who are averaging double-figure points with Carley Ernst and Abigail Wehrung recording 12 and 10.9 points per game respectively. Ernst also averages 6.6 rebounds per game, while Wehrung has been an inspiration coming off the bench. The Spirit have had just two players start every game, with Tessa Lavey (9.4 points, 3.3 rebounds and 3.7 assists) and Kelly Wilson (8.9 points, 4.2 rebounds, 6.1 assists and 1.4 steals) providing the best playmaking abilities in the team. For the Lynx, they would love to have Imani McGee-Stafford and Ariel Atkins both up and firing in the one team, with the American duo providing great support of the boards; McGee-Stafford leading the team with 8.4 rebounds per game.

TOWNSVILLE FIRE vs. MELBOURNE BOOMERS
Saturday January 25, 6pm
Townsville Stadium

Tipping off the Saturday night proceedings, seventh placed Townsville Fire host top two side, Melbourne Boomers in a bid to desperately improve from last round. The Fire were well beaten in both their matches and it does not get any easier here against a genuine title contender. At home the Fire are 3-5, while the Boomers are strong on the road with a 7-3 record and not afraid of winning in front of a hostile environment. On the two occasions the teams have faced off this season, Melbourne got up on both occasions, defeating Townsville by nine points back on October 27, and 16 points two months later. The Fire have missed Abby Bishop since she was mutually released from her contract, with the consistent performer averaging 15.9 points, 7.6 rebounds, 3.3 assists and 2.1 steals per game from 14 games prior to her departure. In her absence, Darcee Garbin (14.5 points, 6.3 rebounds) and Tess Madgen (12.5 points, 5.4 rebounds and 3.7 assists) have carried the load, while Bridget Carleton gets around the court and provides great offensive and defensive plays for the Fire. The Boomers have been steadily building over the season with lots of depth coming off the pine, and this game is a chance to try and gain some separation on the Capitals after the Boomers went down to the reigning premiers last week. A win would also move them closer to Southside setting up an unlikely charge for top spot if results go their way. Sophie Cunningham has been impressive of late, averaging 11.4 points and 3.7 rebounds per game, while the towering duo of Cayla George and Ezi Magbegor – who combine for 26.8 points and 14.8 rebounds – will also be a handful for the Fire in this game.

SOUTHSIDE FLYERS vs. ADELAIDE LIGHTNING
Saturday, January 25, 7pm
Dandenong Stadium

The other Saturday night game might be the most touted of the round, with a top four clash on offer and a result that will directly affect the finals make-up. If the Southside Flyers can get up over the Adelaide Lightning, expect the league’s newest rebranded side to take the minor premiership given the two-game gap on the second placed Boomers. At the same time, the Lightning will be almost certainly resigned to fourth spot, and meet the Flyers in the first week of finals, which could well happen anyway. However if the Lightning get up, then it opens the door for all top four sides, with the Lightning keeping the pressure on the third placed Capitals, while the Boomers could be knocking on the door of top spot with the Flyers potentially slipping up. These sides have played twice – both in Adelaide – with the Flyers getting up on December 1 by six points, before the Lightning returned the favour in Round 12 with an 11-point victory in front of home fans to all but lock up a top four spot. Now out at Dandenong, the Flyers are a difficult team to beat, having only lost to the Capitals twice and Sydney Uni once at home. The Lightning are 50 per cent on the road with four wins from eight games, but will have gained confidence from the big win last round. Mercedes Russell has been a star all season for the Flyers, pumping out numbers of 16.7 points and 10.2 rebounds per game in the center position, well aided by the likes of Rebecca Cole (16.6 points, 3.3 rebounds and 3.8 assists) and Leilani Mitchell (16.0 points, 3.3 rebounds, 5.5 assists and 1.4 steals), while Sara Blicavs has been the side’s top player in the last few weeks. For the visitors, Brianna Turner and Stephanie Talbot continue to create headaches for the opposition, combining for 31 points, 18.5 rebounds and three blocks per game. Lauren Nicholson has also been a consistent contributor for the Lightning, as has Nicole Seekamp who has stepped up in the past month.

UC CAPITALS vs. SYDNEY UNI FLAMES
Sunday, January 26, 5pm
National Convention Centre

Depending on Wednesday and Saturday nights’ results, the UC Capitals could be battling for second spot with a win here against the Sydney Uni Flames. The Capitals need to defeat Perth Lynx and for Townsville to upset Melbourne, which granted is unlikely based on the Fire’s recent form and the Boomers’ ability to get the job done. However if it happens then it opens the door for the Capitals to access second spot with a win, and depending on the other Saturday night encounter between the Flyers and Lightning, might even give the reigning premiers a sniff at top spot. If the Lightning and Fire win, the Capitals could move to within one game of top spot, sitting pretty in second on the WNBL table. However, back-to-back losses this round would see the Capitals drop back below the Lightning in fourth spot. They are 7-1 on the table at home, while the Flames are 3-6 when on the road so they will need to defy the recent season history to cause an upset. The Flames are a much improved side on last year’s wooden spoon effort with Sydney Uni looking safe from that fate again in 2019/20. These teams have played twice this season, with the Flames causing a boilover back on October 27 with a six-point win over the Capitals, before UC clicked into gear a week later with a smashing 25-point victory. Olivia Epoupa is a versatile player who defies her 165cm height to be a real influence off the boards with 8.1 rebounds per game to accompany her 6.7 assists and 3.2 steals in a truly impressive effort. Along with Alex Delaney – who got her first start – and other youngsters in Gemma Potter and Abby Cubillo – who are getting vital time off the bench – the Capitals have plenty of depth to fill in for the injured Griffin and Froling. The Flames have had some strong contributors themselves this season, with Alice Kunek (18.9 points, 4.9 rebounds and 3.0 assists) leading the way, while Jessica Kuster (12.1 points, 6.6 rebounds and 1.1 steals) and Alex Wilson (11.2 points, 5.1 assists and 3.4 rebounds) have been strong, Lauren Scherf is also building some nice form of late and will be hard to stop in the center.

2019/20 WNBL preview: Round 14 – Make or break round for Capitals

CLASHES against the top two sides makes Round 14 of the Women’s National Basketball League (WNBL) a belter for the University of Canberra (UC) Capitals. Aside from those couple of thrilling contests, Adelaide Lightning is still looking to keep a step ahead in third, while the Boomers and Flyers hope to solidify their top two spots ahead of finals.

UC CAPITALS vs. MELBOURNE BOOMERS
Friday, January 17, 7pm
National Convention Centre

Opening up the weekend is a huge top four clash between reigning premiers, UC Capitals and Melbourne Boomers. With a four-game gap between fourth and fifth, the Capitals are secure in the knowledge they will play finals, but will hope to win this game to draw one win closer to the top two Boomers. Finishing fourth means the Capitals will not be able to host two home finals in the series, and will be travelling for the majority of the time – predominantly to Victoria. If they can win, then it leaves the race for second wide open, as the Southside Flyers look to have secured top spot on the WNBL table. In the two previous meetings the teams are one win apiece with the Boomers thrashing the Capitals by 35 points back in Round 3, before the Capitals earned a hard-fought three-point win a couple of weeks later. The Capitals have proven to be near-impossible to beat at home with a 6-1 win-loss record there, though the Boomers are just as impressive on the road with six wins from eight encounters. In the absence of injured star Kelsey Griffin, Keely Froling has stood up of late to be a bonafide starter, posting 14.4 points and 7.4 rebounds per game this season, teaming well with the equally impressive Marianna Tolo (13.8 points, 7.9 rebounds and 1.7 blocks). Tolo will be particularly important to try and quell the influence of Cayla George and Ezi Magbegor of whom the pair of forward-center’s combining for 26 points and 15 rebounds.

ADELAIDE LIGHTNING vs. TOWNSVILLE FIRE
Friday, January 17, 7pm
Titanium Security Arena

Down in South Australia, third placed Adelaide Lightning will be keen to take advantage of the result from the Capitals-Boomers clash and either move one win closer to Melbourne or one win further away from UC. The season is done and dusted for Townsville who sit four and a half games outside of fourth spot. The Fire will still be keen to have a strong finish to the year and push for fifth spot, and back-to-back wins over Round 14 would likely see them achieve that spot, albeit temporarily. The Lightning are fairly strong at home with a 6-3 win-loss record, while the Fire on the road have been shaky to say the least, winning just two of nine attempts this season. Both of the clashes between these sides in the 2019/20 season have been in Townsville with the Lightning easily taking the wins both times thanks to margins of 18 and 26 points respectively. Brianna Turner (16.2 points, 9.9 rebounds and 1.9 blocks) has been a ray of consistency this season, combining well with the all-round efforts of Stephanie Talbot (14.8 points, 8.5 rebounds, 4.5 assists, 1.7 steals and 1.0 blocks per game). Nicole Seekamp has been steadily building in the guard position, while the inclusion of Kathryn Westbeld in replacing Crystal Langhorne as a forward has been a positive one. For the Fire, Abby Bishop has missed the last few games but it has not hurt the Fire who have recorded back-to-back wins and jumped off the bottom of the table. Tess Madgen (12.3 points, 5.4 rebounds) and Darcee Garbin (14.1 points, 6.2 rebounds) have been quite handy for the team over the course of the season.

SYDNEY UNI FLAMES vs. MELBOURNE BOOMERS
Saturday, January 18, 5pm
Brydens Stadium

In what will be a quick turnaround for the Boomers, Melbourne heads from the nation’s capital to Sydney for a match against Sydney Uni Flames. A couple of wins could see them draw level with Southside Flyers, but a couple of  losses all but rules them out of a run for top spot. Not only could that be the case, but both third placed Adelaide and fourth placed UC would be on the Boomers case heading into the final two rounds of the season. Sydney Uni have won three of eight at home, while the Boomers are confident on the road and will start favourites despite the short turnaround. Player management will be crucial for the visiting side over the weekend as the Boomers have one eye on the finals series. In the two matches this year, Melbourne has brought home the chocolates on both occasions, winning by 13 points in Melbourne before toppling Sydney Uni by 23 points on the road. For the Flames to win they will need to be at their best, led by Alice Kunek (18.9 points, 4.9 rebounds and 3.0 assists) and Jessica Kuster (12.5 points, 6.4 rebounds, 1.2 steals and 1.1 blocks). Lauren Scherf had a standout game last season and is averaging eight points and eight rebounds per game, and will need another huge one to topple the likes of George and Magbegor. Restricting the Boomers’ bigs will be key to victory, though Sophie Cunningham (11.2 points, 3.8 rebounds) and Lindsay Allen (15.3 points, 4.9 assists) are a couple of Americans who continue to cause headaches for the opposition.

BENDIGO SPIRIT vs. SOUTHSIDE FLYERS
Saturday, January 18, 7pm
Bendigo Stadium

In the most anticipated one-sided game of the round, top takes on bottom when Southside Flyers travel up the highway to face Bendigo Spirit. The Flyers have had a superb first season in the WNBL after the rebrand from Dandenong Rangers, sitting two games clear with 14 wins from 17 games, while Bendigo has struggled at times with just four wins from 13 games. The one positive heading into this match is the fact that all four of Bendigo’s wins have come at home, though Southside are 8-1 on the road. In their two previous encounters this season – both at home for Southside, the Flyers have won by eight and 13 points. Bendigo’s Carley Ernst is the key rebounder in the side, picking up 6.7 boards a game to accompany her 11.8 points. Kelly Wilson (8.9 rebounds, 6.1 assists and 4.1 rebounds) and Tessa Lavey (8.8 points, 3.4 rebounds and 3.8 assists) are others who have had strong seasons despite the unfavourable results for the Spirit. The Flyers have had no shortage of contributors, and Mercedes Russell has set the tone as the premier center in the competition, averaging a double-double of 16.9 points and 10.1 rebounds per game. Rebecca Cole (16.7 points, 3.2 rebounds and 3.7 rebounds) and Leilani Mitchell (15.9 rebounds, 3.5 rebounds and 5.6 assists) are others have worked hard, playing as important guards in the ladder-leading side.

PERTH LYNX vs. TOWNSVILLE FIRE
Sunday, January 19, 2pm
Bendat Basketball Centre

In one of two Sunday games, Perth Lynx play their first game of the round against a Townsville Fire side travelling across the border after their clash against the Lightning on Friday night. The Lynx would need incredibly favourable results to have any chance of making finals, sitting four games outside of the top four with just two rounds remaining. Realistically it is beyond last year’s finalists, though ensuring they do not finish in the bottom two would also be a huge motivation to win this match. The Lynx are 4-5 at home, while the Fire are only 2-7 on the road so expect the Lynx to be favourites without being a sure thing – especially considering Townsville toppled them back on November 2 in Western Australia by five points before Perth sought revenge with a five-point win of their own up in North Queensland. Perth has a number of players who have produced solid performances throughout the year, with an even team performance rather than standout individuals. Katie-Rae Ebzery (15.6 points, 4.5 rebounds, 4.8 assists and 1.4 steals) has led the way from the likes of Alison Schwagmeyer (15.4 points, 5.8 rebounds) and Lauren Mansfield (9.7 points, 4.6 assists). While the Australian cohort of the Fire have been up and about, the international imports in Bridget Carleton (11.6 points, 6.1 rebounds) and Belgian Julie Vanloo (8.8 rebounds, 4.2 assists) have also contributed this year.

SOUTHSIDE FLYERS vs. UC CAPITALS
Sunday, January 19, 5pm
Dandenong Stadium

The match of the round could well be the final game of the weekend. The top-of-the-table Southside Flyers make the trip up to Canberra following a night clash with Bendigo Spirit the day before, to take on the UC Capitals in a ladder-defining clash. The Flyers can lock up top spot with a big weekend, while a couple of losses could see the Boomers pounce on top spot. Arguably the Capitals have even more to lose if they go down in their clashes against the top two sides because it would rule them out of a top two spot and a double home final. These sides have played twice this season with the Capitals winning on the road to hand Southside its first loss back in early November, before the Flyers knocked off the Capitals in their only loss at home. While Southside seldom lose at home, the Capitals have shown the formula to do it, and it could be a thrilling contest. The forwards have been good at providing some strong rebounding and point-scoring abilities with the likes of Jenna O’Hea (14.1 points, 4.9 rebounds, 4.3 assists and 1.7 steals) and Sara Blicavs (13.6 points, 6.8 rebounds) leading the way for the Flyers. The Capitals have an equal amount of enviable depth with other starters Kia Nurse (19.9 points, 3.8 rebounds), Olivia Epoupa (7.8 points, 7.3 rebounds and 6.6 assists) and Maddison Rocci (7.6 points, 2.5 assists) all crucial in combining for a successful team this season.

2019/20 WNBL Team of the Week: Round 13

IT was an even round of action in the Women’s National Basketball League (WNBL), with the 10 players in our Draft Central Team of the Week spread between seven of the eight sides. Only reigning premiers University of Canberra (UC) Capitals did not have a representative this week, with Adelaide Lightning, Townsville Fire and Sydney Uni Flames all having two representatives.

Adelaide Lightning had two starters in our Team of the Week, with Nicole Seekamp filling out a guard spot after 11 points, six rebounds, 11 assists and two blocks, joining Brianna Turner in the side who posted 23 points, 11 rebounds, two assists, two steals and four blocks, also shooting at 75 per cent from the field. Townsville’s Julie Vanloo is the other guard in the side after averaging 14.5 points, six rebounds and eight assists across two games, while teammate Bridget Carleton has earned a spot on the bench following a double-double. The other side with two players is Sydney Uni, with the Flames’ Lauren Scherf starting as center following 16 points, 10 rebounds, two assists, two steals and three blocks, while Alice Kunek sank an equal round-high 30 points and earned a spot in the bench.

The final member of the starting five is Bendigo Spirit’s Shyla Heal who despite her side losing, posted 30 points, six rebounds and three steals at 68.8 per cent from the field. Looking to the bench, Perth Lynx’s Katie-Rae Ebzery is the other guard, while Ezi Magbegor slots into a forward role. In the center, regular Team of the Week nominee, Mercedes Russell has earned a place in the side. There were plenty of players unlucky not to make the side, including Southside Flyers’ trio, Leilani Mitchell, Rebecca Cole and Jenna O’Hea, UC Capitals’ duo Keely Froling and Marianna Tolo, Adelaide’s Kathryn Westbeld, Bendigo’s Carley Ernst, Townsville’s Tess Madgen, Sydney Uni’s Jessica Kuster and Melbourne’s Cayla George who all put up solid performances throughout the round.

STARTING FIVE:

G: Nicole Seekamp (AD) – 11 points, 6 rebounds, 11 assists, 3 steals, 0 blocks, 36.4 FG%
G: Julie Vanloo (TF) – 14.5 points, 6.0 rebounds, 8.0 assists, 1.5 steals, 0.0 blocks, 47.4 FG%
C: Lauren Scherf (SU) – 16 points, 10 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals, 3 blocks, 53.3 FG%
F: Brianna Turner (AD) – 23 points, 11 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals, 4 blocks, 75.0 FG%
F: Shyla Heal (BS) – 30 points, 6 rebounds, 0 assists, 3 steals, 0 blocks, 68.8 FG%

BENCH:

G: Alice Kunek (SU) – 30 points, 6 rebounds, 1 assist, 2 steals, 0 blocks, 50.0 FG%
G: Katie-Rae Ebzery (PL) – 14 points, 6 rebounds, 6 assists, 2 steals, 0 blocks, 45.5 FG%
C: Mercedes Russell (SF) – 18 points, 11 rebounds, 1 assist, 2 steals, 1 block, 61.5 FG%
F: Bridget Carleton (TF) – 14.0 points, 10.0 rebounds, 3.5 assists, 1.0 steals, 1.0 blocks, 42.9 FG%
F: Ezi Magbegor (MB) – 19.0 points, 10.0 rebounds, 1.0 assists, 1.5 steals, 1.5 blocks, 58.6 FG%

WNBL Round 13 review: Flyers edge out Boomers in OT, Fire rout Caps

WITH the season coming to a close and only three rounds now remaining, the top four is close to being decided as the Lynx need an unbeaten run for even the slightest chance of a playoff spot, for which they took the first step in doing so, toppling Bendigo. Meanwhile, the Townsville Fire may have showed precursor signs of what is to come next season, as they walloped an abysmal Capitals outfit by a whopping 33 points in the round’s shock result. Meanwhile the Flyers edged out the Boomers in a nail-biting game of the round that ended in overtime.

Adelaide Lightning (69) defeated by Melbourne Boomers (74)

The round kicked off in South Australia for what was the most important game of the season prior to tip-off for the Lightning. A win for Adelaide would have tied them for second on the standings with their opponents, the Boomers. As both sides matched each other on the scoreboard through the first quarter, neither team managed to gain a considerable edge on one another. But it was the Melbourne side that produced the game’s first sizeable lead, outscoring Adelaide by nine heading points into half-time. The Lightning would answer back however with a late scoring charge in the final quarter, bidding to upset one of this season’s title contenders. With a 21-14 final period by Adelaide thanks to efficient scoring from the field (40.6 per cent), it took astonishing three-point accuracy for the Boomers to hold off the home-side. Melbourne outplayed the Lightning from behind the arc, shooting a total of nine three-pointers compared to Adelaide’s mere two, which would lead to a close five-point win, creating more wiggle room for Melbourne in the top-four as a result. Sophie Cunningham came up big for the Boomers, knocking down four of their shots from deep and finishing with 18 points, as well as five rebounds. While Cayla George led the side with 14 points, seven rebounds and seven assists, it was further compounded by Ezi Magbegor’s 14 points and eight rebounds adding more depth to the visitors’ scoring efforts. For the Lightning, player of the game honours went to Brianna Turner who ended her game with a solid double-double (23 points and 11 rebounds) and four blocks, while Nicole Seekamp obtained her own with 11 points and 11 assists. Adelaide’s defeat ended their four-game winning streak leaving them in the top four, while the Boomers put themselves within arm’s reach of the league-leading Southside Flyers who they would matchup with on Sunday night.

DC Medal: 3 – Brianna Turner (AD), 2 – Sophie Cunningham (MB), 1 – Ezi Magbegor (MB)

Townsville Fire (102) defeated UC Capitals (69)

The shock of the weekend took place in Queensland’s far-north as the seventh-placed Townsville Fire blew the third-placed Capitals out of the water. The Fire outscored the Canberra side in three out of four quarters, including a crushing final period outscoring the Caps 34-14. With the Fire winning in all facets of the game, it came with no surprise that Townsville ran away with the contest early on. The lone saving grace for the away team was their consistency from the free-throw line shooting 18 of 20 (90 per cent). It was an all-around effort from Townsville, as six players would finish with double digits, most notably from Tess Madgen who totalled 26 points. The Fire also recorded a duo of double doubles from Julie Vanloo (16 points and 10 assists) and Bridget Carleton (13 points and 11 rebounds) as they were the main perpetrators in the dismantling of the Capitals. Both Marianna Tolo and Kia Nurse squeezed out 17 points for UC, while Keely Froling recorded a double-double of her own with 15 points and 10 boards. The Fire, who are out of finals contention, are showing promising signs for the upcoming season as a result of Friday night’s performance earning their fourth victory of the season in the process, whereas the Capitals who are sitting pretty in third, need to re-adjust leading into the postseason after such a dismal performance.

DC Medal: 3 – Tess Madgen (TF), 2 – Julie Vanloo (TF), 1 – Keely Froling (UC)

Sydney Uni Flames (76) defeated by Townsville Fire (83)

With the Fire hot off the back of their best performance so far this season, there was a considerable amount of momentum as they travelled down to Sydney to take on the sixth placed Flames. With both teams out of the finals race, it was a battle of pride, as both sides were keen on finishing their seasons on a good note. The “Battle of the Inferno” started off with high-paced offensive and little defensive success, as both sides cracked the 20-point mark by the end of the first period. However, due to a lacklustre 14-point second quarter by the Fire, Sydney Uni held a double-digit lead heading into the main break. But once again, the scoring depth that was on display two days earlier by Townsville came to fruition as a strong second half was enough to rally the Fire to a hard fought seven-point victory in New South Wales. With 14 successful three-point attempts from the Fire compared to the Flames’ four, it was enough to offset the damage Sydney had caused with their points in the paint (48-28). This coupled with five Townsville players reaching double-digits, it was difficult for the Flames to alter their game plan which had been successful throughout the opening two quarters. The Fire’s leading scorer on this occasion was Darcee Garbin who accumulated 18 solid points as well as four three-pointers for good measure. Carleton rounded out a successful weekend one rebound short of another double-double with 15 points and nine rebounds. The Flames’ key contributor was their marquee forward in Alice Kunek, who piled it on to finish with 30 points, going seven from seven from the free-throw line. As Townsville went back-to-back during the round and the Flames lost their third game on the trot, the Fire sit a single game back on the Sydney-side in the standings, as both sides look to finish with a respectable fifth-placed finish.

DC Medal: 3 – Darcee Garbin (TF), 2 – Alice Kunek (SF), 1 – Bridget Carleton (TF)

Perth Lynx (100) defeated Bendigo Spirit (81)

The Perth Lynx have taken the first step of their monumental task of stealing a postseason berth, with a convincing 19-point drubbing of the bottom-of-the-table Spirit. The Lynx would set the tone early with a 32-point first quarter and would not be outscored in any quarter following that. It was matter of capitalisation throughout the contest, as it was Perth that dominated the inside game with 32 of their points coming from around the basket. They were also big on turnover points racking up 17 compared to Bendigo’s 12 and conclusively, they ran the Spirit off the floor taking the fast-break points category 11-2. For the Lynx, both Mareena Whittle and Nadeen Paine secured 19 points each with both of them combining for six three-pointers, as Katie Ebzery produced a solid night with 11 points, six rebounds and six assists. For the Spirit, Shyla Heal shot the lights out, tallying 30 points for her struggling side along with six rebounds, whilst Carly Ernst left the arena with 11 points and 10 rebounds. The victory for the Lynx keeps their season hopes alive a week longer, as the Lightning’s loss to Melbourne leaves Perth 3.5 games out of fourth position with five games remaining over the next three weeks. With Adelaide only needing two wins to secure a finals position, the top four might be decided by the end of next round.

DC Medal: 3 – Shyla Heal (BS), 2 – Mareena Whittle (PL), 1 – Katie-Rae Ebzery (PL)

Melbourne Boomers (73) defeated by Southside Flyers (75)

Fans who were able to make it the State Basketball Centre in Melbourne were treated to a possible preview of this season’s Grand Final series as it was first versus second to round out Round 13. For most of the game, it seemed that the home side held a relatively tight grip on the game through three quarters winning each of them by four, one and one points. But a desperate Flyers side came out of their shell, to string together a last minute comeback to force the match into overtime, thanks to four consecutive free-throws in the final minute from Rebecca Cole and Leilani Mitchell. But in extra time, it fell once again to Mitchell to knock down free throws in the clutch with 39 seconds left, to which she rose to the occasion knocking them down and putting the game out of reach, resulting in the two-point nail-biter and 21 points along with it on the night. Jenna O’Hea closed out her night with 19 points and Mercedes Russell honed in on the boards, collecting another double-double to her collection this campaign (18 points and 11 rebounds). Magbegor dominated throughout the 45 minutes of basketball, with 24 points and 12 rebounds despite her team’s crushing defeat. The win by the Flyers prevented the Boomers from tying them in first position on the ladder. Instead the deficit for Melbourne fell back to two games and their winning streak ends at four for the second seeded team.

DC Medal: 3 – Leilani Mitchell (SF), 2 – Mercedes Russell (SF), 1 – Ezi Magbegor (MB)

DC Medal Leaderboard:

27 –  Mercedes Russell (SF),
26 –
25 –  Cayla George (MB)
24 –
23 –
22 –
21 – Kelsey Griffin (UC)
20 – Stephanie Talbot (AL)
19 –
18 – Brianna Turner (AL)
17 –
16 – Lindsay Allen (MB), Alice Kunek (SU),
15 –
14 – Katie-Rae Ebzery (PL)
13 – Abby Bishop (TF)
12 – Alison Schwagmeyer (PL), Colleen Planeta (AD), Olivia Epoupa (UC), Darcee Garbin (TF)
11 – Kia Nurse (UC), Keely Froling (UC), Leilani Mitchell (SF),
10 – Jenna O’Hea (SF),
9 – Madeleine Garrick (MB),
8 – Carley Ernst (BS), Bridget Carleton (TF),
7 – Jessica Kuster (SU), Tess Madgen (TF), Ezi Magbegor (MB)
6 – Imani McGee-Stafford (PL), Sara Blicavs (SF), Marianna Tolo (UC),
5 – Tahlia Tupaea (SU),
4 – Kelly Wilson (BS),
3 – Rebecca Tobin (BS), Rebecca Cole (SF), Lauren Nicholson (AL),  Tessa Lavey (BS), Sophie Cunningham (MB), Shyla Heal (PL),
2 – Crystal Langhorne (AD), Micaela Cocks (TF), Chelsea Brook (AD), Lauren Mansfield (PL), Nicole Seekamp (AL), Julie Vanloo (TF),  Mareena Whittle (PL)
1 –  Ariel Atkins (PL), Alex Wilson (SU), Anneli Maley (SF), Stella Beck (MB), Abigail Wehrung (BS), Kathryn Westbeld (AD)

2019/20 WNBL Round 13 preview: Boomers and Flyers to go at it again

WITH the finals within reach the Women’s National Basketball League (WNBL) is about to ramp up with a host of key match-ups headlining Round 13, none bigger than the clash between Melbourne Boomers and Southside Flyers.

ADELAIDE LIGHTNING v. MELBOURNE BOOMERS
Friday, January 10, 7:05pm
Titanium Security Arena

It will be a blockbuster opening to Round 13 with the Adelaide Lightning hosting the in form Melbourne Boomers who have shown they have skill to boot. The Lightning have rallied in recent weeks claiming four of their last five wins much like the Boomers, making for a hotly contested game. The Boomers currently sit second on the ladder but a loss here could see them potentially drop down the ladder, meaning the Lightning have a lot to play for. Both sides are relatively evenly matched when it comes to points scored, but Melbourne could find themselves in a world of hurt if they do not get on top of Adelaide early when it comes to points scored from fast breaks. With the likes of Lindsay Allen and Cayla George leading the way the Boomers have a plethora of options when it comes to damaging the scoreboard. Madeleine Garrick can also post her fair share of points making the Boomers a deadly counterpart once they get going. Lucky enough for the Lightning they have a pretty stacked line-up with the likes of Brianna Turner a points scoring machine. Turner along with Lauren Nicholson and Stephanie Talbot can do a wealth of damage to trouble not only the scoreboard but so too the Boomers.

TOWNSVILLE FIRE v. UC CAPITALS
Friday, January 10, 7:05pm
Townsville Stadium

The Townsville Fire have struggled for consistency throughout the 2019/20 season as opposed to reigning premiers the UC Capitals who have left their mark on the competition. Despite dropping a few games here and there the Capitals, despite a shock loss last week against the lowly ranked Spirit, have been hailed as a team to watch with their best hard to stop. Headlined by Kia Nurse, UC have scoring prowess and class across the board while Keely Froling and Marianna Tolo are no slouches able to consistently hit the scoreboard. It is not only their work in the points department but ability to gather the rebound or dish off assists that makes the Capitals a damaging opponent.  Although the Fire do not have the same depth as their competitors they have their own key players in Darcee Garbin and Abby Bishop. Both players are known for their ability to put points on the board and if they can get enough of the ball early will help to set up a good foundation for the game. Townsville and Canberra are both coming off losses and will be looking for redemption but given the Capitals have that extra bit of star power it will be an uphill battle for the last placed Fire.

SYDNEY UNI FLAMES v. TOWNSVILLE FIRE
Sunday, January 12, 1:05pm
Brydens Stadium

The fifth placed Sydney Uni Flames are set to take on the Townsville Fire who will have played their second game in as many days. The Flames have worked their way up the ladder and will be looking to consolidate on their recent form against the struggling Fire who have only notched up three wins so far. Despite the Flames dropping their last two games they still have a wealth of key players that can have an influence and help dictate the flow of the game. The Flames would be well aware that if they lose this match it could be the end of their albeit slim finals hopes. Alice Kunek has been a scoring machine for the Flames leading the way with a whopping 292 points so far this season and while she had a quiet game last week she will be looking to bounce back. Teammates Colleen Planeta and Jessica Kuster are just a couple of other game changers for the Flames with their dynamic style of play. For the Fire the usual suspects in Bishop and Garbin will have to step up but expect the likes of Bridget Carelton to have an impact.

PERTH LYNX v. BENDIGO SPIRIT
Sunday, January 12, 1:05pm
Bendat Basketball Stadium

It will be a battle of the two lower placed teams with Perth Lynx playing host to the Bendigo Spirit on Sunday. The Spirit will be riding high after notching up a surprise win against the Capitals last round and will be aiming to replicate that strong showing once again. Bendigo have had an up and down season this year but a win here could see them leapfrog their opponents on the ladder. On the other hand, Lynx will be holding on tight to ensure they do not drop down the ladder with the end of season quickly approaching. Kate Ebzery and Alison Schwagmeyer have been the shining light for the Lynx able to win a game off their individual performance. Schwagmeyer has posted some hefty totals throughout the year and will have to pull out all the stops to get over the top of the Spirit who are on a two-game winning streak. Imani McGee-Stafford is another player that can tear games wide open making her an ominous threat for the Spirit. But Bendigo should not be worried with the likes of Carley Ernst a handful to control. Ernst can apply plenty of scoreboard pressure while Shyla Heal has continued to develop as the season has worn on making for an intriguing battle.

MELBOURNE BOOMERS v. SOUTHSIDE FLYERS
Sunday, January 12, 5:05pm
State Basketball Centre

The final game of the round is set to finish with a bang with one versus two. The Boomers will be suiting up for their second game of the round, while the Southside Flyers will be hoping to capitalise on their opponent’s fatigue. Having not played since last round the Flyers will be hoping to exploit any potential cracks in their cross-town rivals and get some separation on top of the ladder with a win. Southside are littered with a wealth of game changes in the form of Rebecca Cole and Mercedes Russell. Both players can knock back some lofty totals with Cole dropping 30 points in one game last week highlighting her sheer explosiveness if left unattended. Other key players such as Leilani Mitchell and Sara Blicavs pose a dominant threat for the Boomers given their ability to flick a switch and cause an impact. The Boomers have the firepower to inflict some pain on the Flyers with Ezi Magbegor, George and Allen all able to have an influence while dual athlete Monique Conti offers plenty of skill. With stacked line-ups and relatively even statistics across the board it will be an enthralling game for all involved.

WNBL Round 12 review: Adelaide Lightning make it four in a row

WITH Round 12 of the Women’s National Basketball League (WNBL) done and dusted, the Southside Flyers remain at the top of the table despite suffering a loss while the Melbourne Boomers remain a constant threat sitting in second. The Spirit mustered up their second consecutive win while Adelaide continued their purple patch.

Bendigo Spirit (94) defeated UC Capitals (90)

Bendigo kicked off the round in style with a surprise four-point victory over the higher ranked UC Capitals. The Spirit have struggled throughout the 2019/20 season but pulled out all the stops in their game against the Capitals to prove they have what it takes to match it with the best. Despite contributions across the board from the Capitals it was their inaccuracy that killed them with the Spirit sitting at 45.8 per cent from the field compared to 38.1 per cent with accuracy from the three point line also reflecting a similar situation. Marianna Tolo recorded a game high 26 points highlighting her explosiveness while also showing her strength off the boards with 17 rebounds to start 2020 with a double-double. The next closest was opponent Shyla Heal who led the way for Bendigo finding the net with ease and opening up space to drive to the basket with 24 points and eight rebounds. For the Capitals, Keely Froling threw her weight around especially when it came to scoreboard pressure, posting 22 points to go with her 11 rebounds, while teammate Kia Nurse also notched up 17 points. Despite big efforts from three of their top performers the Capitals could not get over the line with Heal and Carley Ernst (19 points) combining effortlessly across the court in what was only their fourth win.

DC Medal: 3 – Marianna Tolo (UC), 2 – Keely Froling (UC), 1 – Shyla Heal (BS)

Townsville Fire (61) defeated by Adelaide Lightning (87)

The Lightning came into the new year with a point to prove and made their plans pretty clear from the get go, bursting out of the blocks with a 33 to 16 point first term. Adelaide built from there, gaining momentum and not looking back and although they lost the last quarter, the damage was already done. Adelaide had no trouble hitting the scoreboard, able to shoot from range or under the post to steadily increase their margin while Townsville struggled to muster up any type of scoring rhythm. It was easy pickings for the Lightning sitting at an impressive 57.9 per cent from three point range compared to the Fire who only managed a mere 20 per cent. Another major difference between the two sides was the contributions off the bench with Adelaide recording 27 points while Townsville posted seven. But the efforts of Darcee Garbin did not go unnoticed for the Fire, leading the way with 21 points and seven rebounds, Abby Bishop also contributed to the Fire’s total with 15 points along with four assists. But it was not enough to stop the rampaging Lightning with all 10 of their players posting a score with import Brianna Turner nailing 17 points and seven rebounds. Stephanie Talbot showcased her class across all areas of the court with 12 points, seven rebounds and six assists while Lauren Nicholson sunk 13 points of her own.

DC Medal: 3 – Stephanie Talbot (AL), 2 – Brianna Turner (AL), 1 – Darcee Garbin (TF)

Perth Lynx (75) defeated by Southside Flyers (90)

The Southside Flyers continued their hot form disposing of the Perth Lynx by 15 points in a win away from home. It was relatively even across the board with both sides boasting similar game styles however it was the Flyers’ ability to race down the court and convert that was a major turning point in the game. Southside scored nine points from fast breaks while Perth managed four. A big last quarter from the Flyers all but handed them the win scoring 22 points and keeping their opponents to just 14. Rebecca Cole took the game by storm with a whopping 30 points for the Flyers. Teammate Mercedes Russell recorded a double-double with 15 points and 11 rebounds while Leilani Mitchell and Jenna O’Hea posted 18 and 13 points respectively in their win over the Lynx. Perth were not without their chances leading in offensive rebounds and bench points but faded out when the game was on the line. Kate Ebzery did her best to stay in touch, sinking 20 points and showing her durability having played the most game time. When it came to rebounds, Lynx was all over it with four of the top five all donning the red and black. Imani McGee-Stafford was quiet by her points scoring standards but managed nine rebounds with Marena Whittle the next in line with seven. For Lauren Mansfield, six proved to be the magical number – notching up six points, six rebounds and six assists.

DC Medal: 3 – Rebecca Cole (SF), 2 – Katie-Rae Ebzery (PL), 1 – Mercedes Russell (SF)

Adelaide Lightning (104) defeated Southside Flyers (93)

In both sides’ second game of the round it was the Adelaide Lightning that came out victorious against a potentially fatigued Flyers who played two days before. It was a hot start to the contest with only one point separating them at quarter time before the Lightning put the foot down in the second term to pile on an impressive 35 points and force the Flyers into chase position. The Flyers simply could not recover despite big efforts from the likes of Russell who replicated her hot form with 28 points and 10 rebounds to notch up yet another double-double. Sara Blicavs also put in a solid performance for the Flyers mustering up 18 points and seven rebounds meanwhile Cole also made her presence felt on the court with 18 points, four assists and three rebounds in her sides defeat. The Lightning made it two from two in Round 12 once again led by Turner with 25 points and nine rebounds. But Turner was closely followed by Nicholson who contributed an impressive 24 points, four assists and five rebounds. Kathryn Westbeld was not to be forgotten about, converting 22 points while Nicole Seekamp put on some kind of performance with a whopping 20 assists to help guide her side to victory.

DC Medal: 3 – Nicole Seekamp (AL), 2 – Mercedes Russell (SF), 1 – Brianna Turner (AL)

Sydney Uni Flames (63) defeated by Melbourne Boomers (86)

In the final game of the round, the Melbourne Boomers showed why they sit second on the ladder with a strong performance against the struggling Sydney Uni Flames. The Boomers outscored their opponents in every quarter, quickly dashing any chances they had of getting back into the match. Melbourne’s defensive pressure was impressive racking up nine steals and limiting the Flames to just two while their rebounding ability was just as strong taking 15 more (53-38) highlighting their skill above the rim and off the backboard. Lauren Scherf was the go to girl for the Flames knocking back 20 points and nine rebounds while the efforts of teammate Alice Kunek was also key racking up 13 points and seven rebounds. But the Boomers were just too strong with a host of players able to stand up and deliver time and time again. Madeleine Garrick top-scored for the home side with 19 points, with Cayla George hot on her heels with 18 points and 10 rebounds to record her first double-double of the new year. Lindsay Allen also popped up with a handy 15 points to keep the scoreboard ticking over meanwhile Ezi Magbegor plied her trade off the boards with 10 rebounds highlighting the strong team effort displayed by the Boomers.

DC Medal: 3 – Cayla George (MB), 2 – Lauren Scherf (SU), 1 – Madeleine Garrick (MB)

The clash between the UC Capitals and Perth Lynx was set to take place at the AIS but was cancelled due to poor air quality as a result of the bushfires in surrounding areas. A decision will be made in the coming days announcing a possible rescheduled match between the two sides.

DC Medal Leaderboard:

28 – Mercedes Russell (SF), Cayla George (MB)
27 –
26 –
25 –
24 –
23 – Stephanie Talbot (AL)
22 –
21 – Kelsey Griffin (UC)
20 –
19 –
18 – Brianna Turner (AL)
17 –
16 – Lindsay Allen (MB)
15 – Katie-Rae Ebzery (PL)
14 – Alice Kunek (SU)
13 – Abby Bishop (TF)
12 – Alison Schwagmeyer (PL), Colleen Planeta (AD), Olivia Epoupa (UC), Keely Froling (UC)
11 – Kia Nurse (UC)
10 – Jenna O’Hea (SF), Darcee Garbin (TF), Madeleine Garrick (MB)
9 – Marianna Tolo (UC)
8 – Leilani Mitchell (SF), Carley Ernst (BS)
7 – Jessica Kuster (SU), Bridget Carleton (TF)
6 – Imani McGee-Stafford (PL), Sara Blicavs (SF), Rebecca Cole (SF)
5 – Tahlia Tupaea (SU), Ezi Magbegor (MB), Nicole Seekamp (AL)
4 – Kelly Wilson (BS), Tess Madgen (TF)
3 – Rebecca Tobin (BS), Lauren Nicholson (AL),  Tessa Lavey (BS)
2 – Crystal Langhorne (AD), Micaela Cocks (TF), Chelsea Brook (AD), Lauren Mansfield (PL), Lauren Scherf (SU)
1 – Sophie Cunningham (MB), Ariel Atkins (PL), Alex Wilson (SU), Anneli Maley (SF), Stella Beck (MB), Abigail Wehrung (BS), Kathryn Westbeld (AD), Shyla Heal (BS)