Tag: ally wilson

2021 VJBL: Under 18s – Round 2

IT is a big upcoming weekend of Victorian Junior Basketball League (VJBL) with a scattered fixture dictating the week, as sides make-up for the lost round due to the championships. With that being said there are plenty of exciting clashes as teams technically head into Round 3 of fixturing with some sides playing two games and the majority only playing one.

Ashe  

Boys:

Only one game of Round 2 of the Victorian Junior Basketball League (VJBL) has been completed with Hawthorn getting over the top of Kilsyth (63-52) in the Under 18 Ashe Pool. The Magic had it all their own way in the opening term and while they were challenged throughout patches maintain a level of composure to bypass their opponents. A 20 point lead in the first quarter proved to be the gift they needed and although Kilsyth peppered the basket in the final term outscoring Hawthorn by nine-points it was not enough to overrun them and claim victory. Jarryd Remy had a day out with his 17 points and stayed away from the refs attention only recording one foul for the game. Teammate John Furphy was another solid contributor for the Magic sinking 10 points of his own. Maximus Bakker, Logan Morris and Denzel Timmons all notched up eight points apiece to help secure the win. For Kilsyth, Harrison Adams was potent nailing 23 points, while Wyatt Stewart got busy with nine points.

Still to come is the clash between Sandringham and Hawthorn as Southern Peninsula and Casey face off in Dromana on Friday night. Nunawading are set to play Pakenham while the last game of the round is between Bulleen and Kilsyth.

Girls:

Ballarat and Altona are set to kick off the action tonight as they make-up for lost time because of the championships. Both sides are yet to win a game and will be hoping for strong performances from the likes of Jade Azzopardi and Aseka Ratnayake from the Gators and Laila Lappin from Ballarat. The next game to follow is on Thursday night with Waverley and Sunbury facing off.

Round 3 however commences on Friday night as Hawthorn and Diamond Valley Eagles open the account. Ballarat and Knox are set to get underway at Minerdome Sports Club while Altona and Nunawading will do battle. The contest between Sunbury and Keilor will surely be an enthralling one with the final game of the round between Kilsyth and Waverley.

Watson

Boys:

Much like the Ashe Pool, only a limited amount of games have been won and done in the Watson Pool with both Bendigo and McKinnon coming out on top in their respective clashes.

Bendigo secured a 13-point win against Whittlesea despite the Pacers skipping out to a hot start. The Braves showed plenty of grit and determination to work their way back into the contest after going into the quarter time break down by 10 points. The real game changing moment came in the third with Bendigo piling on 24 points while keeping Whittlesea to nine. That momentum filtered into the fourth as they notched up a handy win. Liam O’Brien was a commanding force out on court for Bendigo nailing a game-high 19 points. He was ably assisted by Josiah Pattinson who sunk 10 points of his own while Lachlan Somerville managed nine. For the Pacers Luke Jeffs led all comers producing 14 points but found himself in some foul trouble with five to his name. teammate Samuel El Ali was important in keeping his side in the game registering 11 points as both Petar Vasilevski and Callum Stojanovic drained six points each in the loss.

The clash between Keilor and McKinnon went down to the wire with the latter just escaping with a narrow five point win. McKinnon claimed the ascendancy early but the Thunder were not about to go down without a fight, answering the call in the second to overrun their opponents and claim the lead. A big final quarter that favoured McKinnon was the icing on the cake as they stole the win. Denver Lund had a game to remember for McKinnon draining an impressive 26 points to single-handedly lead his side to victory. Efforts from Luke Lyngberg and Will Simos-Primerano did not go unnoticed in the win as their nine and six points respectively helped get them over the line. Cooper Colson was the go-to man for the Thunder with 19 points while Nikolas Ellul and Brodie McWhinney made notable contributions in 12 and 11 points each.

The next lot of games is Round 3 with Camberwell taking on Keilor and Knox facing off against Whittlesea. Melbourne are looking to knock off Bendigo who are riding a high while Geelong and Eltham lock horns. The final game sees Waverley and McKinnon battle it out.

Girls:

Three games were completed over the weekend with Frankston and Sandringham securing the win while Casey and McKinnon could not be separated.

Casey and McKinnon finished on 49 points apiece with both sides answering the challenge thrown down to them each time. McKinnon were the frontrunners for the opening half, keeping their opponents to a mere 14 points while putting on 25 points of their own. However the second half of the game was a different story with Casey working in overdrive to score and nullify McKinnon’s offensive play. Jemma Ramsdale and Lucy Dexter were two crucial cogs for Casey producing 14  points each while Emerson Rasmussen was the other contributor thanks to her eight points. Hannah McGillen made her presence felt with 15 points while Romy Price was strong credit to her 12 points.

Frankston made light work of Ringwood comfortably bypassing them by 18 points (54-36). It was a relatively one-sided affair with Frankston controlling proceedings and not letting go of that momentum throughout the entire match. They really romped home the win in the final term as they piled on 16 points to seven. When looking at top performers it is hard to ignore the likes of Zoe Harvey, Mackenzie Mitchell and Georgia Mann with the trio linking up nicely for the winners. Harvey managed 16 points while Mitchell and Mann nailed 14 and 13 respectively. Zoe Servinis was the lead points scorer for Ringwood with 13 points to her name as Ella Grigg produced seven in the loss.

Sandringham Sabres put Nunawading Spectres to the sword with a comprehensive win (72-33). Away from home, Sandringham brought their a-game and did not let up with their relentless pressure and class across the court enabling them to build on their lead every quarter. The most damaging term was the third with the Sabres reducing the Spectres to a mere five points while pouring on 20 themselves. Sarah Stafford had a hot hand with 11 points as Ella Erickson managed 10. Ella Razga was dominant for the winners as was Jaida Reid as they both nailed 13 points each. Madison Sinclair slotted 12 points while Kate Gooden was handy sinking 10 points for the Sabres.

Round 3 sees Melbourne and Sandringham do battle while Casey and Ringwood are locked in. McKinnon and Nunawading play off at Bentleigh Secondary College with Dandenong and Frankston fixtured in for Friday night. The final game is between Bulleen and Camberwell.

NBL1 Central Women’s: Team lists

ROUND 1 of NBL1 Central Women’s gets underway this weekend with the first game of the round seeing Eastern Mavericks take on Forestville Eagles. With the opening game quickly approaching the teams are starting to take shape, however as of time of publishing the Central District Lions and Mavericks are yet to disclose any members for their 2021 squad.

The Eagles, Norwood Flames, South Adelaide Panthers and Southern Tigers have the most complete lists in the competition with the latter releasing a 16-player team filled with a host of stars. Captain, Tara Dodman is set to headline the squad while co-captain Morgan Yaeger is another exciting prospect for the side. Madison Round signed on with the club for her third year, joining teammate Lauren Whitbread.

There are a couple of exciting names headlining the NBL1 Central competition with Samantha Simons a key figure to keep an eye out for. Initially planning to ply her trade overseas in the US, Simons finds herself suiting up for the Eagles this year instead given the COVID-19 pandemic and is a great acquisition for the side alongside Brooke Basham.

Former Ipswich Force player in the Queensland Basketball League (QBL), Rachel Mate has made her way down to join the North Adelaide Rockets for the 2021 season while Ally Wilson has signed on with Norwood Flames. Wilson is a formidable force and can ply her trade effectively making her an exciting pickup for the upcoming season after coming off a strong term with Adelaide Lightning in the Women’s National Basketball League (WNBL). The Flames also have Paige Keenihan, Aimee Herriman, Georgia Thomson and Chelsea Apacible who have all re-signed with the club for the upcoming season as they build a strong core. They also picked up the services of Big V representative Sophie Kerridge.

The Sturt Sabres have acquired the services of American import Kylee Smith, who averaged 18.2 points and 10.6 rebounds over in the Premier League. Her influence will be exciting to watch not only on Sturt’s half but so too the rest of the competition. Jennie Rintala is the only signing for West Adelaide Bearcats so far while the Woodville Warriors have secured the services of Emily Winter and Nyidier Riak.

Round 1 fixture:

Eastern Mavericks vs. Forestville Eagles
North Adelaide Rockets vs. South Adelaide Panthers
Southern Tigers vs. Sturt Sabres
Central Districts Lions vs. West Adelaide Bearcats
Norwood Flames vs. Woodville Warriors

Team lists:

Central Districts Lions: No announced players
Eastern Mavericks: No announced players
Forestville Eagles: Brooke Basham, Aimee Brett, Cara Annetts, Kaylee Biddell, Amy Cotton, Samantha Simons
North Adelaide Rockets: Rachel Mate
Norwood Flames: Shay’Lee Dayman, Genna Anderson, Ally Wilson, Georgia Thomson, Aimee Herriman, Paige Keenihan, Chelsea Apacible, Sophie Kerridge, Bride Kennedy-Hopoate
South Adelaide Panthers: Ashleigh Spencer, Olivia Thompson, Teresa McGreehan, Jordan Hunter, Phoebe Witter Smith, Hannah Stewart, Erina Marafioti
Southern Tigers: Morgan Yaeger, Maddison Round, Margot Hall, Rosie Williamson, Jemma Thacker, Denelle Fawcett, Bianca McCalop, Tara Dodman, Teige Morrell, Hannah Frisby Smith, Britt Winter, Keeley Round, Abby Beeche, Hope Smith, Annie Bartsch, Lauren Whitbread
Sturt Sabres: Kayla Mathews, Nicola Mathews, Jade Johnson, Kylee Smith
West Adelaide Bearcats: Jennie Rintala
Woodville Warriors: Emily Winter, Nyidier Riak

WNBL20 Season Review – Adelaide Lightning

SUFFICE to say, it was not the Adelaide Lightning’s season after finishing sixth at the conclusion of WNBL20, serving as the only team from earlier this year to not make the postseason this time around, finishing with a record of five wins and eight defeats.

Preceding the first contest of their fixture, the Lightning were dealt a huge blow to their core unit with the announcement that Phoenix Mercury member, Alanna Smith would be absent for the six-week season due to injury.

But that did not stop Chris Lucas’ squad from ruining the Canberra Capitals’ start to their three-peat bid, toppling the two-time defending champions 85-73 in Mackay to kick off the competition. Following their upset win against the Capitals, the Lightning kept the momentum going to begin their season with a hard-earned win against fellow mid-table inhabitants the Perth Lynx, putting together a perfect start to the season after Round One.

Just when Adelaide started to look like a serious contender for the season, fortunes became reversed when the Queensland government put in place a mandatory quarantine for recently arrived individuals from South Australia, therefore affecting the Lightning’s schedule in Round Two.

After nine days of inaction, Adelaide made its return to the court but similar results would prove a lot harder to come by. Going down to the Melbourne Boomers by 40 points, Adelaide’s success took a dramatic turn for the worse. While they attained their third and fourth wins of the season against the Bendigo Spirit and the Sydney Uni Flames, it was noticeable that the Lightning struggled against top-tier teams.

Back-to-back games against the Southside Flyers in rounds three and four really showcased the difference between Adelaide’s style of play and that of the eventual minor premiers. Going down by 31 and 39 points in each clash, it set the tone for a rather uneventful run home despite still having a realistic chance at making the postseason at that stage.

However, after a 20-point defeat to the Capitals in their second battle of the season and a minuscule defeat against the Lynx, Adelaide’s season was hanging by a thread with an unfavourable sequence of opponents waiting in the distance for Round Five.

With the only positive result in the final round being knocking over the Spirit once again, Adelaide would fall to the Boomers for a second time, the Townsville Fire, and the Flames in their closing game of the season, solidifying themselves in the middle echelon of the standings.

Adelaide captain Steph Talbot, who was consistently leading her side in numerous categories each and every night, took home the Suzy Batkovic Medal, the league’s highest individual honour. Talbot averaged a whopping 18.2 points (third highest in WNBL), nine rebounds (third highest in WNBL), three assists, 1.9 steals (third highest in the WNBL) and 30.6 minutes per game (ninth highest in the WNBL) in what would one of the most dominant seasons for an individual across all categories in recent WNBL history.

Backing up Talbot was shooting guard Ally Wilson, who ranked first or second in areas like scoring, assists and minutes; averaging 11.3 points, 4.3 assists and 31.7 minutes in said categories. While on the whole, Adelaide as a unit was a class below the WNBL’s top four, individuals like Abigail Wehrung (average 11.3 points and 2.5 assists), Chelsea Brook (9.3 points and 4.4 rebounds) and Marena Whittle (8.7 points and 5.3 rebounds) provided substantial aid to their two leaders on multiple occasions throughout the team’s regular season fixture.

While Adelaide missed out on finals this season, a few upgrades to the secondary unit would be a much-needed benefit to next year’s side and their MVP in Talbot. Should Smith make a successful return to the side, anything is possible for the Lightning in WNBL21.

Melbourne weathers the Lightning, 21-point victory over Adelaide

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pic: WNBL

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Southside hand Townsville third loss, Fire’s Nicholson leaves with nose injury

GOOD things eventually come to an end and in this instance, it was the Townsville Fire’s three-game winning streak at the mercy of the Southside Flyers, going down to the heavy-handed championship favourites 70-94, while being substantially undermanned.

A scrappy start from both sides led to a low scoring opening few minutes, but two quick fouls for Megan McKay earned her a quick spot on the bench for the rest of the first quarter. The Flyers started to connect on some of their shots as the first quarter rolled on, while Townsville struggled to pick up steam, trailing 4-16 after six minutes of play thanks to nine quick points from Liz Cambage. Not only did Southside’s superior opening period see them gain an 11-point lead, but also a hard blow to Lauren Nicholson’s nose resulting in the Fire losing a star point-guard for the rest of the game.

An And-One from Bec Cole to commence things in the second provided more encouraging signs for Cheryl Chambers and her players, however three straight successful trips up the floor for the Fire was the response Shannon Seebohm wanted to see following quarter time.

Townsville fended off more Southside success leading into the main break trailing only by eight points and winning the quarter 25-22. Down 34-42, the Fire were feeding off of Shyla Heal’s 15 points and three rebounds at this stage, while Nadeen Payne was doing her best to back Heal up with seven points and four boards. Alternatively, Cambage had herself 17 points in 16 first-half minutes next to Cole, who sat on 10 points and five assists at the mid-way point.

Losing Heal for a chunk of the third due to an elbow to the chest, the Fire did a good job of weathering the Flyers’ storm. But a triple from Jenna O’Hea midway through the third quarter signified the gradual expansion of her side’s lead in the second half putting Southside up by 16 with a quarter left to play in Saturday’s opener.

A relatively uneventful final quarter ensued as Southside started to push their advantage towards the 20-point mark and Townsville struggled to cope while running on limited players. As both sides introduced their secondary units in the dying moments of the contest, Southside routinely concluded matters by running out 24-point winners and ending Townsville’s three-game winning streak.

Shooting over 50 per cent throughout all four quarters, Southside was hard to stop from knocking down their shots, particularly down low (48 points in the paint) and from the free-throw-line (14 from 17). The Flyers also held onto the ball well, only turning over the ball eight times the whole game.

Cambage maintained her reputation as a prolific post presence, contributing 26 points, nine rebounds and three assists, while going 75 per cent from the field. Meanwhile, Cole was the next best thing with her 19 points and eight assists. Leilani Mitchell was not a massive presence on the scoreboard, but she certainly facilitated the ball at a high rate finishing with nine assists under her belt.

Heal had another impressive outing racking up a team-high 17 points, four rebounds and three assists, a major talking point for Townsville’s disappointing outcome. But more impressively, were the combined efforts of two of the WNBL’s best auxiliary players. Firstly, 15 points in 26 minutes off the bench for Stephanie Reid provided merit for a top performance from the losing side, whereas Courtney Woods accumulated a modest 11 points in her efforts yesterday afternoon.

Both teams hit the hardwood again in 24 hours, as Southside looks to knock the Adelaide Lightning out of the top four with a second triumph in as many days. While, the Fire look to re-establish themselves as a favourable finals nominee against a Sydney Uni Flames unit that is hungry to climb the standings.

Lightning hit back with statement win

Pic: WNBL

IMPROVING their record to four wins and one loss, the Adelaide Lighting have reiterated the fact that they are a formidable side, after extinguishing the Sydney Uni Flames 75-53, following a one-sided second half and a 30-point masterclass from early MVP-candidate Stephanie Talbot.

Transition points and a quick start from Sydney saw them run the floor well and capitalise on fast break offence early on, but the Lightning had other ideas for how the opening term would end, following a 7-0 run four minutes in for Adelaide. Riding off on their scoring run and four lead changes in the first quarter, Adelaide held a commanding 20 to 12 lead, with Talbot a large presence early having seven points and four rebounds after 10 minutes.

After an extended quarter-time break due to technical difficulties at the Cairns Pop-Up Arena, both teams lost momentum on the scoreboard. Neither side got off a field goal for two and a half minutes, until this trend was upended following a beautiful backdoor cut from Sydney’s Lauren Mansfield.

Baskets became more frequent from both sides prior to half-time and the Flames made some significant headway in the half’s few remaining minutes after two buckets each from Funda Nakkasoglu and Nat Burton, cutting the deficit to only six points at the main break, 32-26.

It was the Talbot show in the opening 20 minutes, with the 26-year-old putting up 15 points during that time and seven rebounds to add to that. While Adelaide had few players with big scoring totals, the Flames had low scoring numbers across multiple individuals with all of their starters converting on shots. The former Opal in Burton led the way with eight points while Alison Schwagmeyer proved her mettle on the glass with seven rebounds in the initial two quarters.

A tit-for-tat beginning was the best way to describe the early moments of the second half, as both sides remained level six minutes into the third phase. However, four pivotal scores from Abigail Wehrung, Talbot who had two of those, and Marena Whittle gave the Lightning a nine-point buffer at what seemed like a turning point in a clash that had little room for errors. A beautiful drive and dish from Ally Wilson to Ella Batish and a fast-break layup by Talbot capped off a 13-0 run for Chris Lucas’ roster and put control of the game firmly in their possession before three-quarter-time, leading 53-41.

Adelaide ballooned their lead out to 25 points long into the middle stages of the final stanza scoring 17 of the first 19 points, as the Flames had no answer for their opponents late in the game. The Lightning’s bench completed the emphatic final period, culminating in a dominant 22-point blowout, reaffirming Adelaide as a serious contender among the League’s ranks.

With the Lightning holding the Flames to 27 per cent shooting efficiency they were able to provide themselves ample opportunity to pull away later in the game given that they converted their shots, which they did by shooting 42 per cent. A plus-11 in assists and a plus-12 in fast break points was a product of the way  coach Lucas’ side worked as a cohesive unit pushing the ball up the other end of the court after Sydney Uni’s missed shots.

Another standout performance from likely MVP candidate Talbot rattled another opponent’s roster, with the small forward racking up 30 points, 12 rebounds and three assists, while being fouled a game-high five times. Wehrung was the only other Lightning individual with double-digit totals, finishing with 11 points by way of three triples. Chelsea Brook contributed eight points and five rebounds, while Batish tallied seven of her own.

Scoring just 53 total game points, Adelaide’s shooting success was few and far between, with Burton being the only player to accumulate over 10 points – she finished with 14 points and a pair of rebounds. Meanwhile, Anneli Maley (seven points and eight rebounds) and Mansfield (seven points and four assists) had quiet nights respectively as neither of them were able to make a substantial imprint on the game.

Sydney Uni and Adelaide return later today to face another two teams who are completing back-to-back fixtures. The Lightning have their work cut out for them if they are to try and slow down the Southside Flyers, who just recently beat the Townsville Fire in convincing style. This brings us to the Flames’ opponents later today, looking to regain lost ground in the standings against the Fire in Round Three’s final game.

Caps keep the good times rolling, extend winning streak to seven

Pic: WNBL

THE longest winning streak of WNBL20 this season continues for the University of Canberra Capitals, as the two-time defending champions extended their litany of victories to seven straight, flattening the Bendigo Spirit in last night’s closer 51-87, rounding off the third of three one-sided contests over the first half of the weekend.

A close contest for the majority of the first period, it seemed as though both sides would be within a possession of each other at the first intermission. However, seven-straight points in the last 60 seconds of the term for the Capitals saw the reigning champions lead 20-12 after 10 minutes, highlighted by a buzzer beating corner three from Brittany Smart.

It seemed early on that the only visible scorer on Tracy York’s side was Tessa Lavey early in the second, who had eight points midway through the period. But numerous participants for the Capitals were finding looks of their own. Starting the second quarter on a 12-4 run, Canberra’s starting five and the extra boost given by former Sydney Uni Flame Tahlia Tupaea, quickly lathered on the points against the Spirit prior to half-time.

Outscoring Bendigo 22-9 in the second period, the Capitals were able to produce two-times the amount of points as their opponents in the first half, leading 42-21 at the midway point. However, given their history against lower-ranked sides Paul Goriss reiterated the notion of playing hard for all four quarters to his side at the main break.

With all five of Canberra starters manufacturing valuable contributions in the first half, it was evident that the Capitals were seeking a team-based win, which was pointed out by their eight assists through two quarters.

Canberra’s lone problem was clearly slowing down Australian Opal in Lavey, who had 13 points in all 20 minutes of the opening half, the only multiple field goal scorer for the Spirit prior to the third quarter, as the side failed to efficiently convert on their scoring attempts only shooting 17 per cent.

The Spirit kicked off the second half with a fast-paced brand of basketball, scoring three of the first four buckets for both teams, but that would be the extent of the good news following this. After making an adjustment on the defensive end, the Capitals turned the momentum in their favour once again and this time for good.

Earning themselves a 33-point buffer at the end of the third term, 37-70, the third game of yesterday’s triple-header looked like it was going finish in familiar fashion to the previous two meetings – a blowout.

This fate for the two sides came to fruition as Canberra completed the four-quarter sweep in Townsville and ultimately the 37-point landslide victory, earning their seventh straight win in the process and putting themselves a game ahead of the Southside Flyers on the WNBL ladder.

Shots just did not fall for the Spirit, who now fall to a winless record of zero wins and eight losses at the middle point of the season. Making 17 shots from 63 attempts (26 per cent) and giving up 36 points in the paint, Bendigo really disadvantaged themselves when it came to Canberra’s depth and team chemistry. Whereas the Capitals made a sizeable 44 per cent rate of their shots along with 22 assists in what was a complete team-effort.

Not a single Capitals player scored more than 15 points, highlighting just how distributed the scoring load was for UC. Leading the side, however, was Marianna Tolo with her 14 points and six rebounds, while Maddison Rocci backed up her captain with 12 points and three assists. Keely Froling and Tupaea each finished their nights with 10 points. For the Spirit, only Lavey was able to crack a double-digit scoring total, but severely slowed her level of production in the second half where she accounted for only four of her 17 points.

The Caps line up again on Tuesday against the Melbourne Boomers in a much-anticipated top-four matchup that will see a semi-final rematch of last season. On the other hand, Bendigo will face off with fellow bottom of the ladder side the Perth Lynx, perhaps the Spirit’s most likely chance at gaining their first win of the season.

Boomers bounce back in style, stun Lightning by 40

AFTER back-to-back defeats, the Melbourne Boomers are again back on the right side of a result following a 40-point landslide win against the Adelaide Lightning in last night’s opening contest, 91-51.

The Boomers were not phased in the slightest by Adelaide’s extended rest period, opening the game up with an 8-0 run before Abbey Wehrung got the Lightning on the scoreboard three minutes in.

Picture-perfect shooting by Melbourne allowed them to create a decent margin by the end of the first quarter while keeping Adelaide to single digits in the process, leading 28-8 in what can be described as one of the best quarters so far this season for Guy Molloy’s team.

To add to the list of issues that the Lightning had to try and contain, Melbourne’s shot conversion rate was a significant one. The Boomers went 19 from 39 (48 per cent) throughout the opening half compared to 33 per cent shooting from Adelaide – numbers that would be the reason for the game’s 53-28 score line at the main break after two quarters.

Looking to repeat a successful first half, the frontcourt duo of Tess Madgen and Maddie Garrick looked to continue their production as they scored 14 and 13 points respectively in the opening 20 minutes of play. But, the job of containing Adelaide’s Opal forward in Steph Talbot was going to prove more of a challenge, as she sounded off on 10 points and three rebounds in the same amount of time.

Both sides slowed down offensively with the two teams combining for 26 points, but the uphill battle did not become any easier to manage for Chris Lucas’s outfit, as the Boomers looked to bounce back from two straight defeats prior to last night as extra motivation.

Leading by 17 with one quarter left, Melbourne just needed to stick to their routine and manage the clock, as a late charge did not seem likely of their opponents. Finally concluding matters last night, the Boomers convincingly outscored the Lightning 24 to 11 in the final term and holding their opponents to 51 points.

The Boomers knocked down field goals at a stellar pace all game, converting on 39 shots from 79 attempts (44 per cent), much higher compared to Adelaide’s average conversion rate of 31 per cent shooting. A plus-25 in rebounding for Melbourne coupled with a plus-13 in assists covered most of the important statistics related to the game that were considered necessary. In addition to this they doubled the amount of points that came from their bench players with 24 compared to Adelaide’s 12.

Marquee players from Molloy’s outfit put on impressive displays, stemming from the rebounding efforts of Cayla George (16 points and 15 rebounds) and Ezi Magbegor (11 points and eight rebounds), and then leading onto the scoring efforts made by Madgen (16 points and five assists) and Garrick (15 points and four assists).

On the flip side, Adelaide’s Ally Wilson submitted a team-high 13 points along with seven rebounds, whereas Talbot finished her night with a modest 12-point and seven-rebound performance.

Taking the contest by 40 points, the Boomers repositioned themselves back in the top four next to the Southside Flyers. But the team now have to wait a week before their next clash against the Canberra Capitals, and given too much time off, a win is anything but a sure thing. A different kind of wait beholds the Lightning, as they have less than a day to recover from their efforts last night, before taking on the winless Bendigo Spirit, who are yet to emerge triumphant after six meetings this season.

Townsville leave Spirit shocked, extend winning streak to four

Pic: WNBL

HOSTS and now the hottest team in the WNBL, the Townsville Fire have kept alive their winning streak in emphatic style by lathering on the points against the lowly Bendigo Spirit 99-51. The result symbolises the two most opposite teams in the competition in terms of form, with the Fire extending their streak to four and the Spirit losing their seventh game in as many contests.

Coming into last night’s contest on a three-game winning streak and in their home city, the Fire were not going to slow down even remotely early on in the contest. This would result in a dominant initial quarter for Head Coach Shannon Seebohm’s side.

Dictated by their smooth passing, six of Townsville’s players put the ball in the net after 10 minutes of play and combine for nine assists on their way to an encouraging 30-10 lead after the first quarter siren. This was topped off by Nadeen Payne’s triple on the buzzer providing an extra boost of momentum.

In a scrappier second term, both teams traded rare baskets in a more spaced out fashion, but as Bendigo started to make encouraging progress, Shyla Heal’s second three-pointer six minutes into the period seemingly halted any chance of a run to conclude the first half and thereby kickstarted the cascading display of points to follow.

However, a good first half followed Mary Goulding, as she waltzed her way to double-digit totals halfway through the game (10 points and two rebounds), but it was a minor footnote as Townsville had more than double the amount of total points that Bendigo had produced leading up to half-time, the score being 51-23.

Things went from bad to worse in the second half for the Spirit as they scored 17 points compared to the Fire’s 27 in the third quarter, which in turn saw the three-quarter time lead grow to 38 points and signify the inevitable win for Townsville before the fourth even began.

The Fire were able to cap off a complete game by winning the final quarter in addition to the previous three, falling one point short of the century mark, but 48-point winners nevertheless.

Townsville emerged victorious in virtually every aspect of the game with the exception of blocked shots, as Bendigo gained the advantage 6-3 in that respect. More importantly, the Fire’s shooting at an exceptional level was their main proponent in the win. Finishing with a clip of 47 per cent, it dwindled the Spirit’s shooting efficiency of 32 per cent. The Fire also bested their opponents in rebounding (42-35) and assists (27-15), as well as forcing 26 turnovers from Tracy York’s roster.

A slow second half individually depleted Goulding’s numbers by the final whistle as she would not score again after half-time for the Spirit. Bendigo’s next highest contributor was Jennie Rintala, who amassed 10 points off the bench with four rebounds. Meanwhile, Tessa Lavey and Carley Ernst were almost absent from the contest, stringing together just nine points between them.

Four out of five of Townsville’s starters reached scoring figures over 10 points, with the Fire’s frontcourt duo of Payne and Megan McKay exhibiting their shooting consistency. Payne sunk six three-pointers to get her 18 points and seven rebounds, while McKay accounted for 18 points and eight rebounds.

Bendigo will square off with the Adelaide Lightning later today as both sides are in dire need of a victory, whereas Townsville have a hefty four-day break before heading to Cairns to try their hand again at defeating the Southside Flyers.

Young gun spotlight: WNBL – Round 9

THE Sydney Uni Flames may still be sitting at the bottom of the table, but two young guns have been shining in their recent success. Zitina Aokuso continues to fill the void of Suzy Batkovic, while Brittany McPhee is making a name of her own among the likes of Asia Taylor and Katie-Rae Ebzery at Perth. Abbey Wehrung has been one of the shining lights for the Spirit, as they struggle through a big form slump.

 

#4 Tahlia Tupaea- Sydney Uni Flames

In Sydney Uni’s 10-point loss against Adelaide, Tupaea spent the most time on court for her side. Tupaea has been showing what she can do with short bursts of game time, and she was tested to see what she could produce with 38 minutes on court. She scored 12 points, pulled down four rebounds and also dished off four assists. Tupaea scored the third highest amount of points in her side for the night. She came alive against the Boomers in the Flames’ upset win at the State Basketball Centre. Not only did she score a game-high 21 points, but she also scored the winning basket, gifting the Flames with a three-point win. In her 100th Women’s National Basketball League (WNBL) game, she also grabbed two rebounds and two assists in her 37 minutes of game time. Tupaea once again utilised her court time and proved she is back in business after suffering from a concussion injury earlier in the season.

#5 Vanessa Panousis- Sydney Uni Flames

With Sydney Uni stars, Ally Wilson and Alex Bunton out of the side due to injury, it has been up to the Flames’ young stars to fill the void. Panousis stepped up to the plate against the Adelaide Lightning, scoring 10 points, four rebounds and two assists in the 10-point loss. She did this all in 22 minutes of game time, highlighting her efficiency with the ball in hand. Panousis was one of four Sydney Uni players to score double-figure points. She struggled against the Melbourne Boomers on Sunday, but it would not have mattered to her, as her team braved its way to a gritty three-point win. Panousis only managed two points, three rebounds and one assist from 24 minutes of game time.

#12 Zitina Aokuso- Townsville Fire

Suzy Batkovic is undoubtedly a huge loss to the Fire side, but Aokuso is stepping up well as her replacement. The young centre nearly secured herself a double-double against Adelaide, ending with 12 points and nine rebounds next to her name. This was despite spending just 21 minutes on court, which was the fifth most minutes out of any Townsville player. She was the equal fourth highest points scorer in the Fire line-up, alongside Darcee Garbin.

#13 Abbey Wehrung- Bendigo Spirit

It was always going to be hard for the Spirit to down the Lynx, but Abbey Wehrung put in her best effort to give her side a chance. She was one of only two Bendigo players to score in double figures, as her and Nadeen Payne shouldered the scoring load. Wehrung ended the game with 16 points, two rebounds and five assists, stepping up to aid the likes of Nat Hurst and Rebecca Tobin, who were held down well by the Perth defence. Against the Capitals, Wehrung was one of only three Bendigo players to score in double figures, and scored the second highest amount of points in her team. She ended with 12 points, one rebound and one assist from 27 minutes of game time in what was a difficult match for the Spirit.

#24 Brittany McPhee- Perth Lynx

Brittany McPhee and partner-in-crime, Asia Taylor lit up the court on Friday night as the Lynx downed the Spirit by 18 points. She ended with a double-double, totalling 20 points and 10 rebounds in the blistering performance. She was only behind Asia Taylor in the stats, who scored 33 points at 52 per cent, while McPhee shot at 47 per cent, including 75 per cent from the free throw line. McPhee led the way in assists though, dishing off five for the game. She was kept quiet against the Dandenong Rangers, scoring six points, five rebounds and two assists. McPhee still led the way in rebounds for her side, but being kept quiet on the scoreboard undoubtedly helped Dandenong get an upset 20-point win over the ladder leaders.

Weekend wash-up: WNBL – Round 6

ROUND 6 was owned by the Boomers, who ended Perth’s winning streak and made it two from two in the Grand Final rematches. A clutch three from Tess Madgen stole the show on Friday night, but Dandenong beating the Spirit came a close second in a packed round of Women’s National Basketball League (WNBL) highlights.

 

Bendigo Spirit (62) defeated by Dandenong Rangers (83)

In a major upset, the Rangers took home a 21-point victory over the Spirit, handing them their third loss for the season. Despite having less shots and rebounds, Dandenong brought superb shooting to Bendigo Stadium. The Rangers hit 33 of their 65 shots compared with the Spirit’s 23 from 74. In the end, the Spirit’s relentlessness failed to match their opponent’s class as they copped a huge blow at home. Big contributor, Kayla Pedersen worked hard in the paint. She put up 12 points, took 12 rebounds and scored six from six at the foul line. Betnijah Laney also played well within the arc, scoring 18 points (72 per cent) with five assists, along with fellow big performers, Rebecca Cole (16 points, two rebounds and five assists) and Tessa Lavey (17 points, three rebounds and two assists). On Bendigo’s end, shooting percentages were disappointing, hitting as low as nine per cent from 11 shots. Rebecca Tobin had some impressive efforts, scoring 14 points, eight rebounds, two assists and hit six from six from the foul line. She was the only Bendigo player to crack over 10 points and still only shot at 36 per cent.

 

Adelaide Lightning (77) defeated by Townsville Fire (79)

Two games down and another loss for the home team as Townsville powered home with a huge second half. Heading into the third quarter 10 points behind, Townsville shot 22 to 12 to tie the game heading into the fourth. It was Tess Madgen’s three-pointer with 10 seconds left that gave them the win and WNBL fans one of the best games of the year. Suzy Batkovic’s neck injury had some Townsville fans worried last week as she failed to have her usual impact. Though those worries seem behind her, putting up 26 points, 14 rebounds, seven assists and three blocks. She now sits atop the league table in points and second in rebounds. Game winner, Madgen was also clinical with 13 points at 83 per cent, hitting all three of her three-pointers, earning six rebounds and three steals. Zitina Aokuso also impacted well despite only playing 17 minutes, scoring 15 points, five rebounds and hitting five of her eight foul shots. On the other end, Kayla Alexander tore it up under the ring with 14 rebounds 16 points and three steals, while Steph Blicavs shot well to score 15 and earned three rebounds, four assists and two blocks.

 

Perth Lynx (69) defeated by Melbourne Boomers (89)

With an enormous 31-point opener, the Boomers snagged the third away win for Round 6 with a big 20-point victory in Perth. They hit 36 of their 78 shots, sunk 15 from range, earned 51 rebounds and 23 assists. The one thing that let them down slightly was their aggressive defense, giving away 26 shots from the foul line compared to only shooting three themselves. The Lynx hit 22 of their 70 shots, played predominantly inside with 18 hit shots and lacked from range with just four. Lindsay Allen was clinical for Melbourne with 26 points, five rebounds and five assists, alongside Cayla George with 16 points and nine rebounds. Every starter recorded at least one three with Allen (four) and Maddie Garrick (three) scoring seven between them. On the opposing end, Asia Taylor scored 20 points and nine rebounds for the Lynx, but only shot at 38 per cent. The margin would have been greater if the Boomers had cleaned up their defence, but a 20-point victory is still nothing to gloss over.

 

Melbourne Boomers (79) defeated Townsville Fire (75)

The Boomers immediately followed up their win in Perth with a tight win at home against a similarly impressive Townsville Fire. With both teams recording great wins earlier in the round and having a close game last week, this match was sure to be a good one. Townsville looked sure to snag another come-from-behind victory after a huge 24 to 16-point period in the fourth. Despite Ally Mallot’s lay-up to tie the game with 38 seconds remaining, Kalani Purcell’s quick reply and Garrick’s two free throw shots brought the margin back to four points and sealed the win. Allen had another big game for the Boomers, scoring 21 points, seven rebounds, six assists and two steals.  George recorded herself a double-double with 17 points and 10 rebounds, while Garrick also impressed with 15 points, six rebounds and four assists. Micaela Cocks led the scoring for Townsville with 19 points at 72 per cent and four assists, alongside Batkovic’s 12 points, 14 rebounds and two steals. It was refreshing to see someone besides Batkovic lead the scoring and a good handful of the Townsville players crack over 10 points. The Boomers just hung in there in the second half to earn second spot on the ladder.

 

UC Capitals (77) defeated Dandenong Rangers (65)

Though winning their first away game to open the round, it seems travelling might have got the best of the Rangers, losing to the Capitals by 12 points in the Australian Capital Territory (ACT). Split quite evenly with 28 from 63 for UC Capitals and 25 from 65 for Dandenong Rangers, the game’s biggest difference came from three-pointers and free throws, with five to two and 16 to 13 respectively. Kelsey Griffin stole the show with 25 points, eight rebounds and two assists. With her impressive work at the ring, it seemed impossible not to foul her, earning seven shots at the line. Similarly earning nine shots from the line, Kia Nurse scored 18 with five rebounds and two steals. For the Rangers, Cole played with 16 points, six rebounds and four assists, alongside Laney who scored 13 with five rebounds and three assists. Rachel Jarry was also impressive, earning eight rebounds and five steals. Unlike their game against Bendigo, the Rangers struggled with efficiency and should look to correct that come next round.

 

Sydney Uni Flames (55) defeated by Bendigo Spirit (67)

The Spirit corrected their mistakes from earlier in the round to take home a victory over the winless Sydney away from home. Like the previous game, not a lot separated these teams on the stat sheet. The Flames opened well with 22 points to 17, trailed by a point entering the third and then completely dropped off, only recording four points in that term. That one quarter let them down and was the biggest contributor for their loss. Again, Tobin played well. She recorded 11 points, nine rebounds and three assists. Nat Hurst also played well with 11 points of her own and six rebounds. For the Flames, Tahlia Tupaea led the scoring on 13 points and earned five rebounds and six assists. Despite struggling with percentage, Ally Wilson scored 12 points and earned four rebounds with two assists. The Flames continue to struggle with their efficiency and make it increasingly harder to make something of this season even if they can’t fix their weak spots.

Weekend wrap: WNBL – Round 5

THE Boomers are starting to find form at the end of Round 5, while the Flames are still without a win. There’s concerns over Suzy Batkovic and Townsville, but hope for the Lynx, who look to continue their hot winning streak.

 

Melbourne Boomers (96) defeated Sydney Uni Flames (79)

Given their run so far, not many people would have picked the Flames to take out this win away from home, and unfortunately for Sydney fans, they would have been right. On paper, the Boomers were much more impressive heading in and coming out of this game, having 77 shot attempts compared to 57, matching the Flames’ shots inside the arc and doubling their shots both scored and attempted from the outside. Cayla George dominated for the Boomers with 27 points and eight rebounds. She shot well from range at 80 per cent and nailed all five of her free throws. Steph Talbot was also pivotal with 20 points and seven rebounds, along with Lindsay Allen’s 16 points, three rebounds and five assists. For the Flames, Alex Bunton played well with 20 points, eight rebounds and eight from eight free throws, but her efforts weren’t enough to see her team over the line. Despite cleaning up their efficiency, the Flames’ relentless play style seems to have fallen by the wayside in its place. This team are yet to find the right balance to take on the rest of the competition.

Perth Lynx (71) defeated UC Capitals (65)

In an extremely close affair, the Lynx secured their spot atop the ladder after defeating their competition in the UC Capitals. The teams shot evenly throughout the game with the Lynx hitting 18 shots inside compared to the Capitals’ 19, and five shots from the foul line compared to nine. Though in the end, it was the Lynx’s 40 per cent shooting from range and 10 successful shots which made the biggest difference. Despite having more attempts, the Capitals only hit six of their shots and continued to try despite their shown reliability on the inside (38 per cent). Perth’s most damaging player was Brittany McPhee, who scored 19 points with six rebounds, closely followed by Alison Schwagmeyer’s 15 points and six rebounds. But for the day, the best player by a mile was easily Kelsey Griffin. She knocked down 30 points with 10 offensive rebounds and eight defensive rebounds, earning herself a double-double. For the day, she shot at 44 per cent and hit six of seven shots from the foul line. Though despite her own and Kia Nurse’s (22 points and four rebounds) efforts, the Capitals were greatly let down by a lack of team coverage.

Adelaide Lightning (99) defeated Dandenong Rangers (74)

After one of the easier starts to the season, Dandenong continues to slip further down the ladder following its loss to Adelaide. Under the lights of the Titanium Security Stadium, the Rangers seemed a little out of their element compared to Adelaide’s composure and cleanliness. The Lightning shot at 57 per cent, hitting 38 of their 66 shots, while the Rangers went 27 from 70 at 38 per cent. The Rangers lost on the rebounds, 42 to 30, but despite giving away more free throws, managed to hit 14 apiece. For the Lightning, Nia Coffey starred with 21 points, seven assists and seven free throws from 10 attempts. Equal great or close second, Lauren Nicholson, scored 20 points, four rebounds, six assists and shot at an amazing 85 per cent, hitting six from six at range. For the Rangers, Rebecca Cole hit 27 points, with the next best score coming from Kiera Rowe’s 10 points. At a glance, this appears to have been Dandenong’s trouble, with the load being carried solely by a single player. For comparison, there were five players for the Lightning who all scored more than 10 points, with not a single player shooting under 50 per cent. The Rangers were just greatly outgunned.

Bendigo Spirit (66) defeated Sydney Uni Flames (64)

The Spirit remained determined to continue their home win record coming up against the Flames, defeating the visitors by two points. Despite leading for most of the game, the winless Sydney failed to withstand a final quarter onslaught from Bendigo and now enter Round 6 still without a win. The Flames hit 21 of their 59 shots compared to the Spirit’s 22 out of 63, beat them on the rebounds (42-39), but again appear to have let themselves down with sloppy defence, allowing 18 shots from the foul line. For Bendigo, there were a few standouts in Nadeen Payne (14 points, six rebounds and three assists), Natalie Hurst (12 points and two rebounds) and Rebecca Tobin (11 points, seven rebounds and four assists). Besides these three, there weren’t many more players for the Spirit that stepped up, so its impressive they split the load so well. For the Flames, Brittany Smart led with 17 points, four rebounds and four assists, followed closely by Ally Wilson with 16 points, five rebounds and four assists. Similarly, the Flames also had a small handful of contributors and lacked some coverage.

Townsville Fire (70) defeated by Melbourne Boomers (78)

The Boomers continue to increase the gap between the top four and bottom four with a win over the Fire at the end of Round 5. With stats even across the board, it was the Boomers’ 30 field goals compared to the Fires’ 26, and an enormous final quarter run which put them over the line. With a neck injury forcing Suzy Batkovic out for a lot of the game, other names were forced to step up for Townsville. Darcee Garbin scored 13 from seven shots, Zitina Aokuso hit 12 with five rebounds, and Micaela Cocks scored 10 with seven rebounds. For Melbourne, Allen had another huge performance with 29 points, three rebounds and six assists. She shot at 71 per cent from the field and earned six shots from the foul line. George and Talbot worked well under the ring, earning six rebounds apiece, while Maddie Garrick lifted to sink 17 points of her own. Melbourne is not known for winning in Townsville, so this victory may come as a shock, but there’s no telling how the game would have panned out if Townsville had Batkovic at her best.

Weekend previews: WNBL – Round 4

ROUND 4 promises to be a big one with traditional rivals, Melbourne and Dandenong going head to head. The Lynx have already got their round started with a win over the Flames.

 

Dandenong Rangers v Melbourne Boomers
3pm, Saturday at Dandenong Venue

The key match-ups:
Betnijah Laney v Jenna O’Hea

Laney continues to be one of the most dominant forwards in the league, sitting in the top 10 for both rebounds and assists. Her work at the board has a lot to admire, displaying both confidence and form in play. In her last game, she led her team in scoring, but like her teammates, she struggled with efficiency. She hit four from six inside and two from seven at range, ending the game with 16 points. She was also standout off the rebound, taking four offensive and five defensive to lead the tally for the game. For the Boomers, O’Hea boasts strong efficiency but does not take as many shots. Against the Capitals, she shot at 60 per cent and scored nine, and against the Flames she shot at 77 per cent and scored 19. While she does not put out the same minutes as Laney, O’Hea is a clean basketball player who makes her impact known. At range, she’s likely to hurt the Rangers but Laney should prove challenging under the ring.

The season so far:

Both teams are in pretty even stead, sitting with two wins and two losses apiece. The main difference being that the Boomers won their last two, where the Rangers lost theirs. In the beginning, the Rangers impressed with back to back wins, but are highlighted for having drawn the easier opener compared to other teams. Since then, they have dropped games to Bendigo and Perth, losing by over 20 points in both. Comparatively, Melbourne snagged a win over Sydney, ending their losing streak and continuing their success to take out the Capitals. The Boomers handed them their first loss last week and look to be on their way to a strong season.

The match:

The Rangers continue to show issues with their efficiency at the ring, so we’re bound to see a lot thrown up, but what lands will be determined on the day. Laney should stand tall on the rebound and lead the scoring for her team, with Kayla Pederson driving and Rebecca Cole having a go from the paint. If the Boomers keep it clean, they should take the win. Cayla George will lead on rebounding and might prove the biggest threat to Laney under the ring. O’Hea should also score a few alongside Lindsay Allen and Steph Talbot. The Boomers are set to continue their turn around, but the Rangers could upset with a little polish.

 

Bendigo Spirit v Adelaide Lightning
7pm, Saturday at Bendigo Stadium

The key match-ups:
Nadeen Payne v Nia Coffey

As expected, Payne and Coffey were both standouts for their teams, but no one proved more impressive than Coffey herself. Adelaide’s sensation put on absolute thriller for spectators with 21 points from 20 shots, and 20 rebounds (eight offensive and 12 defensive). She has now overtaken Suzy Batkovic for most league rebounds. Payne impressed less on the boards, but she proved far more efficient in terms of shooting. In their second game, Coffey will likely be shut down and Payne should look to lift. The pair are both strong players for their team and can dictate much of the game.

The season so far:

Though undefeated upon entering Round 3, Bendigo faced back-to-back losses at the hands of both Perth and Adelaide. While the Spirit’s match against the Lynx was settled by five points, they lost to Adelaide . by 28 points . It seems the Lightning regained some of their footing in their last game after back to back losses. After narrowly losing to the Capitals, they were set to make a change. Against Bendigo, they put up 80 shots and shot far better from range.

The match:

The Spirit will likely make a few changes in their approach after losing so comprehensively to Adelaide last week. Payne should pose more of a threat under the basket and bring her patented efficiency to the Spirit’s shooting. Natalie Hurst should hopefully find her groove off her jumper, while Rebecca Tobin assists on minimising Coffey on the rebound. As for the Adelaide, Steph Blicavs will likely dominate at range, while Coffey cleans up the rebounds. Lauren Nicholson should drive well to the ring and pull up well on the inside, while Nicole Seekamp shares the ball around and puts up a few of her own.

 

Townsville Fire v Perth Lynx
7pm, Saturday at Townsville Stadium

The key match-ups:
Suzy Batkovic v Kayla Steindl

At the beginning of Round 3, Batkovic led the league for rebounds, but lost top spot to Coffey after she picked up 20 in her last game. Although she still leads the league in another category, as Batkovic sits atop the table for points after a 30-point game against Sydney Uni Flames. She earned herself a double-double with 12 rebounds and shot well with 10 from 17 and hit 10 of her 13 free throws. Less damaging, Steindl only hit two of her seven shots, finishing her last game with six points. However, her more notable stat came from eight rebounds (four offensive and four defensive). In her last game against Townsville, she scored little again but posed a huge threat on the rebound (eight). Steindl will best minimise Batkovic if she can take offensive rebounds, but with Batkovic being the most damaging player under the ring, her work will be cut out for her.

The season so far:

The Lynx sit on three consecutive wins following their loss on Round 1, while the Fire sit on two wins and two losses without having consecutive victories. The last time the pair faced, Perth beat Townsville by 10 points. The stats were quite close across the board, both shooting at 46 per cent, 23 assists and finishing close on rebounds (40-37). In the end, Perth just sunk more, and the victory was not largely a result of weak spots for Townsville. Perth’s success continues to come at a result of it efficiency and cleanliness in defence. Townsville’s biggest issue continues to be a lack of a second dominant player to help assist Batkovic, and a lack of consistency.

The match:

Like stated countlessly, Batkovic should dominate this game for Townsville but questions arise as to whether it will be enough. If Perth can keep her minimised, the Lynx should see their way to easy win. Casey Samuels and Darcee Garbin have the potential to assist Batkovic more but will need a serious lift if they intend to keep up. For Perth, Schwagmeyer should damage within the arc, and assist Steindl in minimising Batkovic. On the attack, Taylor will pick up points and rebound well, while McPhee sinks the ball from range. The Lynx are likely to keep their streak going, currently boasting the most efficient game in the league.

 

UC Capitals v Sydney Uni Flames
2pm, Sunday at National Convention Centre

The key match-ups:
Kia Nurse v Brittany Smart

This match-up will be one of most entertaining of the round. Nurse averages the fourth most minutes in the league and fourth for average points. Smart, similarly, sits on the table for minutes placed at seventh. In their last games both women had strong performances. Nurse hit seven from 17 from the field, with four inside and three from the arc. Though like most of her games, a good portion of her points came from her time at the free throw line (12 from 16). Players continue to struggle defending her while she’s driving to the ring. For Smart, most of her scores came from impeccable ranged shooting, hitting five from seven outside the arc. For the day, she finished with 24 points and seven rebounds, continuing to be a standout for her team. This pair should go shot for shot all night.

The season so far:

The Capitals had their winning streak ended last round against the Boomers on Friday. From the field, the Capitals recorded less shots due to their continued time spent at the free throw line. In their first game against the Boomers, they recorded 17 shots from the foul line and 30 in their second. Teams seem to struggle with effectively defending the Capitals, as it continues to show in their free throw stats. The Flames are yet to win a game and continue to face some tough competition as they progress through the season. Their efficiency continues to let them down despite some strong individual performances. Sydney will be looking for its first win in this game.

The match:

Nurse should lead the way for UC Capitals, shooting well from range with Kelsey Griffin, who herself should threaten on the rebound. Kelly Wilson will pass and rebound well as she continues to lead the league in assists. For Sydney, Smart will be going toe to toe with Nurse and Griffin, dominating the game outside the arc. Sydney’s Ally Wilson sits just below Kelly Wilson in assists and could knock her off top spot with a big performance this weekend, while also sinking a good few of her own.

 

Melbourne Boomers v Bendigo Spirit
7:30pm, Monday at State Basketball Centre

The key match-ups:
Lindsay Allen v Natalie Hurst

The Boomers had a strong showing against UC Capitals with Allen leading from the front. She picked up 17 points, but only hit six from 17 shots from the field. She has earned her spot on a few top 10s, sitting seventh from average points, second for assists and sixth for steals. Her vision and athleticism complement her team well and make her a problem for any team. Similarly, Hurst sits eighth for assists and tenth for three-point percentage. In her last game, she had a weaker performance with just seven points, but managed to score 14 with seven assists in her game previously. Allen will likely get the upper hand in this battle, but Hurst does not lack the potential to challenge and succeed.

The season so far:

The Boomers won their last two games, whereas the previously undefeated Spirit lost their two games last round. Melbourne snagged its first against the currently winless Sydney Uni Flames and delivered UC Capitals their first loss for the season. Bendigo Spirit on the other hand, sat atop the table heading into Round 3 with only two games played, though put on a poor showing to lose back to back.

The match:

As per usual, Cayla George and O’Hea should do well under the basket, both finding significant success inside the arc. On the outside, Steph Talbot should lead with strong shooting and likely top the table for her team. Allen should follow closely, assisting her teammates with her supreme passing ability. For Bendigo, Hurst will also do well to assist Tobin under the ring and Payne all over the field. In the end, the Boomers should pick up the win, but Bendigo could come back refreshed and shake things up.