Tag: Cassidy McLean

2021 NBL1 South preview: Round 4

IT is already up to Round 4 in the National Basketball League (NBL)1 South competition, and our matches of the round this week feature the 3-1 Bendigo Braves and Melbourne Tigers in the women’s, whilst in the men’s, the undefeated Knox Raiders (3-0) lock horns with the Ringwood Hawks (2-1).

WOMEN’S:

In our NBL1 South women’s match of the round, two sides with 3-1 records go head-to-head in Bendigo Braves and Melbourne Tigers. The Tigers also go on to play the winless Mt Gambier Pioneers on Sunday at home, but first have to make the trek up to Bendigo on Saturday. Both these teams come in with some great form, but it is hard to look past the Tigers who completely dismantled Albury-Wodonga Bandits (48 points) and Diamond Valley Eagles (45), then took care of the Hobart Chargers (22). The big question mark is the fact the Tigers have not beaten a side that has won a game yet, with all three teams having been winless to start the season.

They went and lost to Sandringham Sabres in Round 1 before the Tigers had hit their groove, with the Sabres having now lost their past two games to sit 2-2 heading into Round 4. On the other hand, the Braves have been ultra impressive, winning by 28 points against Dandenong Rangers last week, after overcoming Ballarat Rush in an overtime thriller the day before. Their only loss came in Round 2 with a spirited six-point defeat at the hands of the top of the table Frankston Blues, which was the exact margin the Braves came away with in victory against the Mr Gambier Pioneers in Round 1. On paper, the Tigers form looks better, but in theory, the Braves have played the tougher opponents which makes this set for a ripping showdown.

Looking at the Braves’ side, Tess Madgen has had a brilliant start to the season, with the WNBL star putting up 22.5 points, 8.5 rebounds and 7.3 assists, as well as averaging more than a steal per game. After threatening with triple-doubles three consecutive weeks heading into this clash, it would be quite the feat if she could achieve it, especially coming off a blistering competition season-high 43 points (and nine rebounds, nine assists) against the Rangers last week. She has had at least nine rebounds the past three weeks and at least eight assists, showing just how damaging she can be across all facets of the court.

Across the court, Abigail Wehrung is an experienced talent, averaging the 15.5 points, 4.0 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game, while Cassidy McLean (6.5 points, 6.5 rebounds) and Piper Dunlop (7.5 points, 5.3 rebounds) are young guns on the rise in Australian basketball. The crucial cog in the team is center, Kate Oliver who has almost averaged a double-double across four games this season, putting up 16.8 points and 9.0 rebounds. In her last game she actually achieved the feat with a whopping 14 rebounds to go with 18 points.

Oliver will need to be at that level when she takes on rising WNBL star, Zitina Aokuso who has been lighting up the NBL1 with 15.3 points, 9.0 rebounds and 4.5 assists per game. The Townsville Fire talent has been managed to start the season, and since clocking up more than 30 points the past two weeks, has had a double-double (10 points, 13 rebounds) and then triple double (19 points, 12 assists and 10 rebounds). She has provided a big-small threat with dual sport start Monique Conti who has been in blistering shooting form, racking up 24.5 points, 5.5 rebounds and 5.3 assists per game.

After a quiet Round 1 game – indicative of the overall team performance against the Sabres, Conti has put up 28, 23 and 40 points in her past three games, as well as six, seven and seven assists, whilst also averaging a massive four steals per game, 11 coming in her past two games. Isabella Brancatisano has benefited from Aokuso and Conti being the focal points having moved up from the Supercats this season to put up 19.3 points, 6.5 rebounds and 4.5 assists, also racking up seven steals against the Bandits for an average of two per game this year. Gemma Simon (9.5 points), Geraldine McCorkell (8.5 points, 4.8 rebounds) and Charlotte Brancatisano (3.3 points, 2.8 rebounds and 3.8 assists) are among other Tigers doing well this season.

The other massive clash not to be missed will be the Launceston Tornadoes (3-1) up against the Eltham Wildcats (3-0). With the Wildcats having an earlier fixture against the winless Hobart Chargers, it is likely they will head into the clash with four straight wins and hungry to claim one on the road against the Tornadoes. The other non-Victorian side in the Mt Gambier Pioneers will travel to Dandenong Rangers and the Tigers home courts over the weekend, while Albury-Wodonga Bandits host Kilsyth Cobras (2-1) in a bid to get the Bandits’ first win of the season;.

Elsewhere, the undefeated Frankston Blues head up to Ballarat to face the 2-2 Rush, Diamond Valley Eagles will look to get on the board when they travel to the out-of-form Sandringham Sabres, and the undefeated Knox Raiders will head to meet Ringwood Hawks (1-2). Two sides with 1-2 records in Geelong Supercats and Nunawading Spectres will lock horns, with the Supercats having a second fixture – this one on the road – against Waverley Falcons on Sunday, while the Spectres also have a second fixture up against the Rangers on Sunday.

FIXTURES:

Hobart Chargers (0-4) vs. Eltham Wildcats (3-0)
Sandringham Sabres (2-2) vs. Diamond Valley Eagles (0-4)
Geelong Supercats (1-2) vs. Nunawading Spectres (1-2)
Ballarat Rush (2-2) vs. Frankston Blues (4-0)
Bendigo Braves (3-1) vs. Melbourne Tigers (3-1)
Dandenong Rangers (1-2) vs. Mt Gambier Pioneers (0-3)
Launceston Tornadoes (3-1) vs. Eltham Wildcats (3-0)
Albury-Wodonga Bandits (0-4) vs. Kilsyth Cobras (2-1)
Ringwood Hawks (1-2) vs. Knox Raiders (3-0)
Waverley Falcons (2-2) vs. Geelong Supercats (1-2)
Melbourne Tigers (3-1) vs. Mt Gambier Pioneers (0-3)
Nunawading Spectres (1-2) vs. Dandenong Rangers (1-2)

MEN’S:

In the men’s competition, the undefeated Knox Raiders travel to The Rings in order to try and extend their record to four games up against the Ringwood Hawks (2-1). In their last start, Knox Raiders destroyed Albury-Wodonga Bandits by 73 points in the largest winning margin of the season. Prior to that, the Raiders picked up wins over Kilsyth Cobras (2-1) by 12 points and Geelong Supercats (1-2) by seven points. Both opponents have shown they could win, so the tight victories were still impressive, but the wiping the floor with the Bandits will give them great confidence coming into this match.

The Hawks on the other hand started the season with a forgettable 31-point loss to Eltham Wildcats (3-0), but have since rebounded with wins over Geelong Supercats (1-2) by 29 points and Mt Gambier Pioneers (0-3) by 44 points. The last two weeks have been pretty impressive for the Hawks, and will be really tested against the in-form Raiders, who will be hoping to keep in touch with top of the table Frankston Blues.

Ringwood Hawks have some great depth across their team, starting with big man Adrien Sturt, who is averaging a double-double of 20.0 points and 12.3 rebounds. After narrowly missing out on a double-double in Round 1 (25 points, nine rebounds), Sturt has made up for it with back-to-back double-doubles in Round 2 (23 points, 12 rebounds) and Round 3 (12 points, 16 rebounds) to be a dominant player off the boards. He will team up with Matthew Fennell (14.3 points, 5.0 rebounds) in the front court, with center Trevor Latham (7.0 points, 7.3 rebounds) the other big man to pull down boards.

The back court features some talented guards and scoring machines, with CJ Asuncion-Byrd having missed the last game, but averaging 23.0 points, 4.5 rebounds and 2.0 assists per match. Alongside him, Jack Barry has managed the 18.7 points, 5.3 rebounds and 2.7 assists, to make it a five which is quite threatening to opposition lineups. The Raiders back court features Ben Ayre (15.0 points, 4.0 assists and 3.5 rebounds) and Jack Roberts (8.3 points, 5.6 rebounds) who have both made promising starts to the season.

In the front court, the Raiders have plenty of depth across the board. Dylan Hare leads the way in terms of points with 14.3 points, 7.0 rebounds and 3.3 assists, with Abraham Nyok (11.0 points, 7.3 rebounds) the other key player using his time on court wisely with at least seven rebounds per match. Simon Grant has been a reliable source of support on that front, averaging more than seven points and rebounds per game, as well as three assists and steals per game, to be an all-round contributor and has helped the Raiders remain undefeated this season.

In other results, Eltham Wildcats (1-2) make the trek to Tasmania to take on the Hobart Chargers (2-2) and North West Thunder (3-1), while Mt Gambier Pioneers (2-1) face both the Dandenong Rangers (0-3) and Melbourne Tigers (1-3) on the road. The Tigers take on the impressive Bendigo Braves the day before, with the Rangers locking horns with the Nunawading Spectres on Sunday. Albury-Wodonga Bandits is the only side to have lost four games and they come up against the Kilsyth Cobras (2-1) at home this week, with the undefeated Geelong Supercats hosting Nunawading Spectres (2-1) and then travelling to Waverley Falcons (2-2).

In the other remaining matches, two teams with opposite win-loss records in Sandringham Sabres (1-3) and Diamond Valley Eagles (3-1) do battle, while two evenly balanced teams with 2-2 records in Ballarat Miners and Frankston Blues also clash.

FIXTURES:

Hobart Chargers (2-2) vs. Eltham Wildcats (1-2)
Sandringham Sabres (1-3) vs. Diamond Valley Eagles (3-1)
Geelong Supercats (3-0) vs. Nunawading Spectres (2-1)
Ballarat Miners (2-2) vs. Frankston Blues (2-2)
Bendigo Braves (3-1) vs. Melbourne Tigers (1-3)
Dandenong Rangers (0-3) vs. Mt Gambier Pioneers (1-2)
North West Thunder (3-1) vs. Eltham Wildcats (1-2)
Albury-Wodonga Bandits (0-4) vs. Kilsyth Cobras (2-1)
Ringwood Hawks (1-2) vs. Knox Raiders (2-1)
Waverley Falcons (2-2) vs. Geelong Supercats (3-0)
Nunawading Spectres (2-1) vs. Dandenong Rangers (0-3)
Melbourne Tigers (1-3) vs. Mt Gambier Pioneers (2-1)

Picture credit: Mick Connolly

2021 NBL1 South Women’s wrap: Round 3

THREE teams remain undefeated after Round 3 of the National Basketball League (NBL)1 South women’s competition, as Frankston Blues (4-0), Knox Raiders (3-0) and Eltham Wildcats (3-0) stand tall amongst the rest of the competition.

Geelong Supercats (92) def. Waverley Falcons (49)

Geelong Supercats have dominated Waverley Falcons by 43 points in a one-sided affair to open the round. The home team raced out to a 10-point lead at quarter time, and then closed down the opposition’s scoring, capped off with a 29-8 third quarter. A 20-14 final term saw the Supercats finish full of steam as well, winning 92-49. Steph Blicavs dominated with 26 points – four of five from long-range – four assists, three rebounds and two steals, while Aimie Clydesdale hit five of 10 from three-point range to finish with 21 points, as well as four rebounds and four assists, while Sarah Elsworthy (17 points, five assists and three rebounds) and Rebekah O’Donnell (11 points, seven rebounds) also stood tall. Renae Mokrzycki (13 points, three rebounds and two assists), Meg Crupi (12 points) and Nyakoang Lok (11 points, five rebounds and two steals) were the double-figure points scorers for the Falcons in the heavy loss.

Frankston Blues (90) def. Launceston Tornadoes (84)

The battle of the undefeated sides lived up to expectations with Frankston Blues triumphing over Launceston Tornadoes by just six points in a thrilling contest. It was a tale of two halves as the home team raced away to pile on 52 points to 38 in the opening half and lead by 14. Launceston hit back in the second half, but could only claw back eight of those 14 points, to go down 90-84. Despite Tessa Lavey having an uncharacteristically poor day shooting (two of 15 from the field and none of nine from long-range for seven points), the dual sport star had 10 rebounds, seven assists and two steals to still contribute to the team’s success. Darcee Garbin (23 points, 11 rebounds and three assists) and Ella Batish (20 points, five rebounds, three steals and two assists) picked up the slack, while Taylah Giliam (16 points, three rebounds) and Samara Hill (12 points, two assists) also stood tall. For the Tornadoes, it was the triple threat that did all the damage to try and keep the side in it, as Keely Froling (30 points, 10 rebounds and two assists) and Kelsey Griffin (14 points, 10 rebounds and two assists) picked up double-doubles, and Mariah Payne finished with 28 points, four assists, three rebounds and three steals.

Knox Raiders (111) def. Albury-Wodonga Bandits (38)

The bloodbath of the round well and truly went to Knox Raiders, who showed no mercy in a dominating 73-point shellacking of Albury-Wodonga Bandits. The Raiders never looked like losing with a 67-21 opening half, and then kept the Bandits to as low as seven points in the final term, running out 111-38 victors. Marianna Tolo had a night out with 25 points, 11 rebounds and three assists, while Klara Wischer also picked up a double-double of 11 points and 11 rebounds. Kara Tessari (18 points, four assists and three rebounds), Kiera Rowe (17 points, four rebounds and three assists) and Leah Santomaggio (13 points, four rebounds and three assists) were others who hit double-figure points for the Raiders. Emma Mahady knocked down 20 points, seven rebounds and two steals in a lone-hand for the Bandits, scoring more than half of the team’s points.

Ballarat Rush (67) def. by Bendigo Braves (74)

Bendigo Braves have come away with an important win on the road against Ballarat Rush, facing a 13-point half-time deficit but turning it around with a dominant second half. The Braves trailed 46-33 at the main break, but then kept the Rush to just 21 points after that, whilst they piled on 41 to secure the narrow seven-point win, 74-67. Tess Madgen led the way, picking up an almost triple-double of 18 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists, while Kate Oliver (18 points, eight rebounds, three assists and three steals), Cassidy McLean (12 points, eight rebounds, three steals and two assists) and Piper Dunlop (eight points, seven rebounds and two assists) all shone in the win. For the Rush, Alicia Froling was unstoppable off the boards with 16 rebounds – seven offensive – to go with 14 points, two assists and two blocks, while Kasey Burton (15 points, seven rebounds and two assists) and Kristy Rinaldi (15 points, five rebounds and three steals) also contributed strongly.

Diamond Valley Eagles (48) def. by Melbourne Tigers (93)

Diamond Valley Eagles’ winless start to the season continued, going down to Melbourne Tigers by 45 points, while the Tigers strung together back-to-back wins. Melbourne won every quarter, getting out to a 25-point lead at half-time to all but seal the deal, then won the second half by 20 points as well to run out 93-48 winners. Isabella Brancatisano (23 points, 12 rebounds and six assists) and Zitina Aokuso (10 points, 13 rebounds and two assists) both racked up double-doubles, as Monique Conti came close to a remarkable quadruple-double of 23 points, eight rebounds, seven assists and seven steals as a clear best on court. Gemma Simon helped out with 19 points in the Tigers’ win. For the Eagles, Sophie Burrows scored a team-high 12 points to go with six rebounds, four assists and two steals, while Olivia Bontempelli (10 points five rebounds, four steals and three assists) and Ivana Vasiljevic (10 points, three rebounds) also reached double-figure points.

Eltham Wildcats (87) def. Nunawading Spectres (74)

Eltham Wildcats remained undefeated from three games with a solid 13-point victory over Nunawading Spectres at home. The Wildcats raced out to a 14-point lead at half-time, and built it up to as much as 20 points by the final break, before the Spectres fought it out in the final term to cut the deficit back, but fell short of victory as the home team triumphed, 87-74. Lily Scanlon (24 points, six rebounds and two assists) scored the most points, but Anneli Maley‘s unbelievable season off the boards continued with 19 rebounds – 13 defensive – to go with 15 points. Tess Heal (14 points, three rebounds, two assists and two steals), Rebecca Pizzey (13 points, seven rebounds, four assists, two steals and two blocks) and Shelby Britten (10 points, seven assists, two rebounds and two steals) also hit double-figure points in the win. Penina Davidson was a standout for the Spectres in defeat, picking up 20 points, eight rebounds, five steals and two assists, while Rachel Antoniadou (17 points, nine assists and two rebounds) and Rachel Brewster (16 points, five assists, three rebounds and two blocks).

Kilsyth Cobras (75) def. Hobart Chargers (73)

Hobart Chargers fell short of their first victory against Kilsyth Cobras, following a spirited four-quarter effort. The Cobras led by four points at the first break, with the teams tied by half-time. Another strong term from Kilsyth saw them extend the lead out to four again, before the Chargers hit back in the fourth, to even hit the front with 2:24 on the clock, but the Cobras managed to steady and take home the win, 75-73. Lauren Scherf (12 points, 15 rebounds and four assists) and Abigail Curtin (14 points, seven rebounds) were influential, as Briahna Whatman (nine points, 11 rebounds and six assists) came close to a double-double, and Nikita Young (13 points, two rebounds, two assists and two steals) was also handy. Madeleine Garrick was the star for the Chargers, not far off a triple-double of 26 points, 10 rebounds, seven assists and four steals, while Tayla Roberts (13 points, nine rebounds) and Kylie McCauley (13 points, nine rebounds and five assists), Sharna Roberts (11 points, five rebounds) and Ellie Collins (10 points, eight rebounds) did all the scoring in a losing team.

Mt Gambier Pioneers (45) def. by Ringwood Hawks (89)

A four-quarter performance capped off by a rampant final term put an exclamation mark on the Ringwood Hawks’ victory against Mt Gambier Pioneers. In the Pioneers first game in South Australia this year, they were up against some stiff opposition and the Hawks came to play, leading by 17 points at the final break. No one would have seen the last quarter coming, as Ringwood piled on 35 points to eight in a one-way domination to blow out the final margin to 44 points, 89-45. Funda Nakkasoglu hit a match-high 26 points, as well as five rebounds and three assists, while Marena Whittle (20 points, 12 rebounds, four assists, four steals and four blocks) and Demi Skinner (18 points, nine rebounds) were also impressive. For the Pioneers, Hannah Young was the standout thanks to 11 points and nine rebounds, while Shakera Reilly (10 points, four rebounds and two assists) and Jasmin Howe (nine points, five rebounds and two assists) were others who stood out for the losers.

Bendigo Braves (84) def. Dandenong Rangers (56)

After a win on the road against Ballarat Rush, Bendigo Braves made it back-to-back victories in Round 3 thanks to a 28-point triumph over Dandenong Rangers. The Braves won all four quarters, scoring at least 17 points in every quarter, and keeping the Rangers to 15 or less in three of the four terms to win, 84-56. Madgen feasted on the Rangers with an almost triple-double effort of 43 points – including seven of 13 from long-range – nine rebounds and eight assists, while Oliver (18 points, 14 rebounds) picked up a double-double, and Abigail Wehrung (15 points, six rebounds and five assists) was also impressive across the night. For the Rangers, Dallas Loughbridge scored 17 points, five steals and three assists, stepping up with Emilee Harmon (15 points, seven rebounds) and Tenaya Sooalo (14 points, three steals and two rebounds) also having a helping hand despite the loss.

Waverley Falcons (93) def. Albury-Wodonga Bandits (64)

Another team that made it back-to-back wins for Round 3, whilst also sentencing a league battler to yet another loss were Waverley Falcons, who took care of Albury-Wodonga Bandits by 29 points. The Falcons dominated the first half to race out to a 24-point lead at the main break, though credit to the Bandits who hit back in the third term to cut it to 15 points at the last change and give themselves a sniff. The Falcons quickly got back on top with a 24-10 final quarter and ran out 93-64 winners. Anna Bandilovska (29 points, two rebounds) was the highest points scorer, though Mokrzycki racked up 28 points, 17 rebounds and Kelly Bowen had 17 points, 11 rebounds and three assists in double-double efforts. Mahady was again the key scorer with 20 points, 11 rebounds, four steals and three assists, though she had some support in this match thanks to Charlotte Beavan‘s 16 points and three rebounds – with five of nine triples – and Brodie-Paige Theodore‘s 12 points – nine from the free-throw line – four rebounds and two assists.

Melbourne Tigers (109) def. Hobart Chargers (87)

Melbourne Tigers made it three consecutive wins, and handed Hobart Chargers an 0-4 start to the season with a 22-point victory at home. The Tigers were surprisingly sluggish to start the match and conceded 34 points in the first term to trail by 12 at quarter time, but then stepped up to completely dominate the game and score 87-53 and run out 109-87 winners. Conti had another massive performance of 40 points – eight of 12 from long-range – seven rebounds, seven assists and four steals, while Brancatisano (23 points – five of 11 from long-range – four rebounds and four assists) and Aokuso (19 points, 10 rebounds, 12 assists, three steals and two blocks in a triple-double effort) all dominated. Collins stepped up with 25 points, six rebounds and three assists in the loss, while Garrick (19 points, seven rebounds, four assists and three steals), Tayla Roberts (15 points, six rebounds) and Thompson (13 points, three rebounds) were also lively.

Sandringham Sabres (67) def. by Launceston Tornadoes (100)

Closing out the weekend was Launceston Tornadoes bouncing back from their first loss of the season against Frankston Blues, to easily win 100-67 against Sandringham Sabres. The Tornadoes won every quarter by at least eight points in a dominant effort to secure the 33-point victory. Froling had an unbelievable performance of 37 points, 13 rebounds and four steals, one of three players to reach double-doubles, as Griffin (20 points, 12 rebounds three assists and two steals) and Payne (20 points, 12 rebounds and four assists) achieved the feat, while Teyla Evans managed the 13 points and four rebounds. Playing their first game of the round, the Sabres’ Amy O’Neill finished with a team-high 20 points, as well as eight assists, five rebounds and three steals. She was complemented by Jenna O’Hea (10 points, seven rebounds, two assists and two steals) and Cassandra Hill (11 points, two rebounds and two assists) in the loss.

Picture credit: Ian Knight Photography

2021 NBL1 South Womens: Round 1 wrap – Cobras produce venomous late blow

THERE were a few tight contests amongst a number of one-sided wins as the National Basketball League (NBL)1 South tipped off over the weekend and we run through the women’s division and how the teams fared.

Melbourne Tigers (62) def. by Sandringham Sabres (87)

A second quarter domination from the Sabres was the key to victory against Melbourne Tigers, winning the term by 19 points (25-6), following on from the dominant 25-15 opening term to open up a 50-21 half-time lead. Whilst the Tigers made good inroads in the second half to break even and reduce the deficit by four points, the damage was done during the 87-62 loss. Jenna O’Hea (27 points, 10 rebounds) and Rachel Jarry (22 points, five rebounds and two assists) were sensational for the winners, whilst Amy O’Neill was also handy with seven points and eight rebounds. For the Tigers, Geraldine McCorkell (15 points, four rebounds) and Zitina Aokuso (14 points, five rebounds) stood out, with the latter teaming up well with fellow WNBL talent, and AFLW star Monique Conti (seven points, six rebounds and two steals).

Hobart Chargers (61) def. by Launceston Tornadoes (91)

In the all-Tasmanian battle, Launceston Tornadoes proved far too good for Hobart Chargers despite a dismal third term. The Tornadoes raced out to a 54-26 half-time lead in a one-sided contest, before the Chargers hit back with a 24-9 third quarter, That gave them a sniff at the final break to get to within 13 points of the Tornadoes, but it would be Launceston that would finish the stronger of the sides, powering away with a 28-11 final term and securing a massive 30-point win. Keely Froling was absolutely unstoppable for the Tornadoes, knocking down 42 points at 59.3 per cent from the field, and notching up 22 rebounds – 15 defensive – five assists, three steals and a block in a huge effort. Mariah Payne (16 points, 11 rebounds, three assists and three steals) also picked up a double-double, while Teyla Evans (11 points and three rebounds) and D’Asia Chambers (seven points, four rebounds and five assists) were handy. Madeleine Garrick (26 points, nine rebounds, two assists and two blocks) and Tayla Roberts (18 points, four rebounds) were the two best for the Chargers.

Frankston Blues (90) def. Nunawading Spectres (78)

A strong second term was the difference for Frankston Blues in posting an impressive 12-point win over Nunawading Spectres. The Blues won the second quarter 24-15, gaining the nine-point separation they needed to go on with it, and secure the 90-78 victory. It was a tight game all match, but Darcee Garbin was the key, knocking down 30 points – at 68.6 per cent, as well as six of eight from long-range, and picking up six rebounds and three assists in the process. She teamed up well with fellow WNBL talent Tessa Lavey who returned from the AFLW to pick up 23 points, seven rebounds and nine assists having barely missed a beat. Taylah Gillam (11 points, three assists and two rebounds) and Ella Batish (eight points, six rebounds) were the other two to stand out for the home side. Four players hit double-figure points for Nunawading, with Izzy Wright (23 points, four rebounds) the main destroyer, while Penina Davidson (15 points, seven rebounds), Louise Brown (11 points, seven rebounds), Rachel Brewster (13 points, six rebounds) and Rachel Antoniadou (12 points, five rebounds and six assists) all shared it around to no avail.

Knox Raiders (79) def. Geelong Supercats (72)

Knox Raiders have held strong in the second half to bounce back from a second term that swung in the Geelong Supercats favour, to record a narrow seven-point win. The Raiders raced out of the blocks to lead by nine points at the first break, only for the Supercats to cut the deficit to four by half-time. To the Raiders’ credit they stood up in the second half to hold off the visitors and record a 79-72 victory. Leah Santomaggio (22 points, four rebounds and four assists) and Marianna Tolo (20 points, five rebounds and two assists) both had their say on the contest, as Klara Wischer (10 points, 11 rebounds) picked up a double-double and Eliza West (14 points, five rebounds and three assists) was also busy. Sarah Elsworthy topped the Supercats’ scoring charts with 16, as well as picking up eight rebounds, three assists and two steals. Stephanie Blicavs (14 points, nine rebounds) and Aimee Clydesdale (15 points, six rebounds and two assists) both stood up in the game, but while the Supercats were strong off the boards (48-40), they struggled in transition (assists 22-13 in Knox’s favour).

Diamond Valley Eagles (65) def. by Dandenong Ranges (79)

Dandenong Ranges have secured an on-the-road win after a momentum-swinging contest against Diamond Valley Eagles. The Rangers took a strong half-time lead of 12 points, but the Eagles would not lie down easily, taking control in the third to cut the deficit to seven by the final break. Sensing the momentum changing, the Rangers got it back on their terms to win the quarter 23-16 and secure the victory, 79-65. Emilee Harmon (26 points, 10 rebounds) and Gemma Potter (14 points, 13 rebounds, five assists, three steals and two blocks) were sensational for the winners, as Tenaya Sooalo (18 points, four rebounds and three assists) also had a day out. Olivia Bontempelli (17 points, six rebounds and three assists) and Ivana Vasiljevic (11 points, seven rebounds and four assists) were the two players to hit double-figure points for the Eagles in the loss.

Eltham Wildcats (82) def. Ringwood Hawks (51)

Eltham Wildcats put Ringwood Hawks to the sword after quarter time to run away with an easy 31-point win. The Wildcats burst out of the blocks in the second quarter after the sides were level at the first break, to win the term 23-8. They then went on with it in the next two quarters, winning them 18-11 and 22-13 respectively to secure the 82-51 victory. Anneli Maley brought her own backboard with her, picking up an unheard of 26 points and 26 rebounds – 18 defensive – on her way to best on court honours. Erin Riley (22 points, two rebounds, two assists and three steals) and Lily Scanlon (17 points, six rebounds and two assists) were also sensational on the scoring front, whilst Rebecca Pizzey helped out with eight points, seven rebounds and three assists. Funda Nakkasoglu topscored for the Hawks with 13 points and five rebounds, while Hope Terdich (10 points, four rebounds) and Demi Skinner (10 points) both notched up double-figure points.

Kilsyth Cobras (84) def. Waverley Falcons (74)

Kilsyth Cobras have fired late to win in a stunning overtime game against Waverley Falcons. The Cobras trailed by eight points at quarter time, put together a mammoth second term of 29-12 to hit the front by nine, only to see that lead evaporated due to the Falcons’ 23-7 third term. Trailing by seven points at the final break, the Cobras levelled the scores with a 20-13 final term, forcing overtime which they got up in, 16-6 for an overall 84-74 victory. Carly Turner knocked down 20 points, 12 rebounds, six assists, three steals and two blocks in a complete game for the Cobras, teaming up well with Lauren Scherf (14 points, 10 rebounds and two blocks). Tia Hay (17 points, four steals) and Briahna Whatman (13 points, six assists) was also impressive in the victory. For the falcons, Aneta Bandilovska top-scored with 21 points, as well as three rebounds, two assists and two steals. Renae Mokrzycki picked up a double-double of 19 points and 12 rebounds, while Nyakoang Lok (13 points, four rebounds) and Jackie Vanderzaag (nine points, seven rebounds and five assists) were also busy.

Albury Wodonga Bandits (61) def. by Ballarat Rush (93)

In arguably the performance of the weekend Ballarat Rush won all four quarters convincingly to defeat Albury Wodonga Bandits by 32 points. The Rush won the quarters by seven, six, 11 and eight points in a comprehensive four-quarter effort to take care of the Bandits on the road, 93-61. Kasey Burton topscored for the Rush with 21 points, six rebounds and three assists, while Claire Constable (18 points including four of nine from long-range, two assists) and Kristy Rinaldi (13 points, two rebounds) were also consistent. Millie Cracknell (10 points) also reached double-figure points, while Alicia Froling was busy across the court with nine points, six rebounds and three assists. For the Bandits, they only had two assists for the entire game – both off the hand of Casey Ardern (two points, two rebounds and one steal), with Emma Mahady a lone hand on the scoring front with 26 points, three rebounds and a steal. The next highest scorer was Brodie-Paige Theodore with nine points and four rebounds in less than 17 minutes.

Mt Gambier Pioneers (54) def. by Bendigo Braves (60)

A strong first half has helped set up a win for Bendigo Braves in a low-scoring contest against Mt Gambier Pioneers. After the NBL1 South competition did not go ahead last season, the Pioneers had to wait an extra year for their debut in the league, and they took it right up to the Braves. The visitors got away to a good start with a three-point lead at quarter time and eight by the main break. The Pioneers fought back to cut the deficit to four at the final change, but the Braves steadied to solidify the win, 60-54. Kate Oliver (17 points, seven rebounds) and Tess Madgen (17 points, six rebounds and three assists) both did the bulk of the damage for the winners, whilst Cassidy McLean (seven points, five rebounds and two steals), Piper Dunlop (seven points, four rebounds) and Abigail Wehrung (six points, three rebounds, two steals and two blocks) were all impressive. Shakera Reilly managed the 16 pints and two rebounds in defeat, while Jasmin Howe also notched up double-figure points with 14 herself. Hannah Young (nine points, eight rebounds and three assists) and Sherrie Calleia (four points, six rebounds, two assists and two steals) were the other Pioneers who contributed across the court.

Flames survive second term scare from Spirit

SYDNEY Uni Flames survived a forgettable second term to put away the winless Bendigo Spirit in the first of four games on a Super Sunday of Women’s National Basketball League (WNBL) action. The Flames started strongly, but found themselves down at half-time against a spirited Bendigo outfit, though they steadied in the second half to run away with an eight-point win, 62-54.

The Flames lit up the court in the opening quarter, racing to a 23-14 lead at quarter time. Though they were expected to get the job done, it was an impressive start to the game, but Bendigo was not to fade away easily. The Spirit picked up in the second quarter to pile on 19 points to eight and actually take the lead by two heading into the main break. The penultimate quarter turned into a low-scoring slog with just total 18 points scored – less than Sydney Uni in the first term and Bendigo in the second – with the Flames levelling the match at 41-apiece.

The Flames bolted out of the gates early in the final term to pile on 13 points to three in the opening six-and-a-half minutes of play. They were firmly in control leading 54-44, though the damaging duo of Carley Ernst and Tessa Lavey refused to give in, cutting the deficit to two plays after back-to-back jumpers. The Flames steadied, and whilst Lavey hit another triple with 38 seconds left on the clock to cut it to six, it would not be enough as the Flames controlled the play and then a last second layup off an offensive rebound from Lauren Scherf put the icing on the cake for a 62-54 victory.

The Flames’ dominance off the boards was the crucial difference between the teams, racking up a whopping 57 rebounds to 38, which allowed them to also control second chance points, putting in 25-6 and making the most of poor accuracy. Sydney Uni will certainly want to sharpen up their shooting for the next match, only scoring at a 32 per cent clip. The Spirit were not much better at 34 per cent, but they matched it with the Flames for the most part, winning the assists for the first time (17-16), and having a couple more fast break points (8-6).

Alison Schwagmeyer was put up 15 points, nine rebounds, three assists and three steals in an impressive performance for the Flames. Christina Boag did not have the same accuracy issues that some of her teammates did, hitting 63 per cent of her field goal attempts to finish with 16 points, as well as six rebounds and two blocks. It made up for an uncharacteristically inaccurate performance from star guard Lauren Mansfield who hit just one of 14 from the field – including one of eight from long range and none of six from two-point range – but the former Lynx talent picked up seven assists, three rebounds and two steals.

Scherf (seven points, six rebounds) and Natalie Burton (six points, seven rebounds and four blocks) were strong throughout, but it was Anneli Maley who again decimated the opposition near the basket with a whopping game-high 11 rebounds to go with five points.

For the Spirit, Lavey had the 17 points, eight assists and five rebounds, while Ernst picked up 12 points, seven rebounds and two assists. Sharing the points evenly elsewhere, Mary Goulding had seven, plus four rebounds and two assists, whilst Cassidy McLean (five points, four rebounds), Demi Skinner (five points, five rebounds) and Amelia Todhunter (five points, two rebounds, two assists and three steals) all contributed in some way.

Sydney Uni now have a two-day break until facing the Perth Lynx on Tuesday, while the Spirit come up against Adelaide Lightning on Wednesday.

Picture credit: WNBL

Flyers exact revenge on Boomers

Liz Cambage had a huge day out against the Boomers. Picture credit: WNBL

SOUTHSIDE Flyers have bounced back from their loss to Melbourne Boomers earlier in the 2020 WNBL season to post a commanding 15-point win over their Victorian counterparts today. In a performance led by Liz Cambage who put up a massive 35 points to go with seven rebounds, four blocks and two steals, the Flyers were just too good after quarter time, particularly in the middle two quarters where they outscored the Boomers, 48-35.

The first term was even with Southside getting the edge by a point at the early break, heading in after a high-scoring quarter to lead 22-21. They continued their scoring prowess in the second term, but managed to restrict the Boomers’ impact on the scoreboard, putting up 20 points to 12 and leading by nine at half-time They continued that momentum after the break to win the third quarter solidly with 28 points to 23, before finishing off marginally ahead in the final stanza, saluting 24-23. It allowed them to post a 94-79 victory and remain equal on top with the University of Canberra (UC) Capitals.

Southside was deadly from the field, hitting 62 per cent of their shots, and despite having 10 less field goal attempts, managed to slot six more overall, including 10 of 17 from long-range in a three-point shooting bonanza. The boomers hit 44 per cent from the field, largely let down by their two-point shooting which ran at less than 50 per cent, but their three-point efforts were relatively strong with 10 from 26.

The teams were evenly poised across the stats with the Boomers picking up one extra rebound (32-31), as well as more steals (11-7), bench points (19-11) and second chance points (6-4). The Flyers were controlling the offence with 29 assists to 22, whilst also having six blocks to two and scoring four more fast break points.

Aside from Cambage who was clearly best on court in the win, the Flyers had three others who contributed double-figure points. Fellow big, Sara Blicavs hit 18 points – seven of nine from the field – along with nine rebounds and four assists, while Rebecca Cole (16 points at 87 per cent efficiency, seven assists, four rebounds and two steals) and Jenna O’Hea (11 points at 66 per cent efficiency, two rebounds) both emphasised how accurate the Flyers were.

Steph Blicavs was also effective off the bench, hitting three of her four shots to finish with six points, three rebounds and two assists. Leilani Mitchell only put up three shots for three points, but dished off dimes like there was no tomorrow with a massive 11 assists.

For the Boomers, Ezi Magbegor scored a team-high 20 points to go with five rebounds and two assists, hitting 69 per cent of her shots from the field, including nine of 11 from inside the arc. Cayla George (12 points, 10 rebounds, seven assists and three steals) could not have done much more on a losing side, while Ashleigh Karaitiana (10 points, four rebounds and three assists) and Tess Madgen (10 points, four assists and three rebounds) were also busy. Kalani Purcell (nine points, three rebounds and four steals) was the standout coming off the Boomers’ bench.

Townsville above .500 again, knock off Spirit thanks to third quarter swing

IN the space of about five minutes, the Townsville Fire flipped the script in yesterday’s clash against the Bendigo Spirit, outscoring them by 17 points in the third quarter to ride home their third win of the season 91-81. Meanwhile the Spirit are still searching for the required recipe to win their first game of the campaign, as their losing skid extends to five games.

Bendigo pushed the pace early in the first quarter, getting out to a 17-5 lead halfway through the opening period, which completely dumbfounded the Fire’s defence in the process. This would dominate the headlines in the opening 10 minutes, but six-straight points from Townsville brought the deficit to a more respectable number with some much-needed momentum.

A late And-One from Tessa Lavey repositioned the Spirit with a commanding quarter time lead ahead 26-15, as each of Bendigo’s starters got their names on the scoresheet early on with a 50 per cent conversion rate aiding them.

However, head coach Shannon Seebohm relied on his side’s depth to help will them back into the contest trailing by just four points at one stage in the second. Nevertheless, back-to-back threes from Mary Goulding and Cassidy McLean would sour the Fire’s momentum just a few moments later, re-establishing the double-digit advantage.

Saving the day in the first half for the Fire was Megan McKay, who earned her minutes with her rebounding, totalling six boards through the first two periods along with seven points. Bendigo would conclude the opening half with the lead after two quarters for the first time this season, 47-40, as Lavey led the way with 12 points and six assists while Goulding had herself 13 points as well. Meanwhile, Townsville’s leading scorer in Lauren Nicholson had 11 points throughout all 20 first half minutes.

As Townsville gradually tightened the deficit, Shyla Heal was huge with her mid-range game, knocking down three-straight buckets to pressure the Spirit further and then eventually tally her thirteenth point of the match to put the Fire in front six minutes into the third.

Despite Carley Ernst putting up substantial numbers in the third, Townsville flipped the game on its head and did the same themselves. A 29-11 third quarter for the Fire would reverse the roles for both sides with the score sitting at 69-58 in favour of this season’s hosts. Two early buckets from Bendigo’s duo Lavey and Ernst, provided promising signs early on in the fourth for the Spirit, but the Fire’s tall frontcourt consisting of McKay, Mia Murray and Zitina Aokuso hustled enough in the later stages of the game to fend off Tracy York’s side long enough to get the Fire over the finish line.

A slow start to the game for the Fire was remedied in the second half, allowing them to earn the come from behind win and put their record at three wins and two losses after their hard-fought 91-81 victory. Townsville’s backcourt was instrumental in the win, with Heal being a key contributor against her former side after her 22 points, six rebounds and three assists next to Nicholson’s 20 points and three rebounds. Aokuso also provided a major boost in her 25 and half minutes of play, putting up 21 points and five rebounds.

These performances will need to continue in one way or another as they size up the Melbourne Boomers later today in the second leg of their weekend double-header.

On the other hand, it can easily be argued that yesterday’s efforts from Bendigo involved numerous highlights, a number of those being individual performance like Lavey and Goulding’s 19 points apiece. It also slots nicely next to Ernst’s 15 points, eight rebounds and five assists. The Spirit’s lesser victories in yesterday’s clash put them in good stead for their upcoming meeting on Tuesday against the Fire for a second time, where we will get to see if Coach York changes her tactics in the repeat fixture.

SOUTHSIDE LEVELS PERTH, AWAIT CAPITALS FOR GRAND FINAL REMATCH

Pic: WNBL

ANOTHER impressive wining margin lined the belt of the Southside Flyers last night, as their 12-player roster came back from an early deficit in the opening period to emerge on the other side with another statement win, following a 46-point thrashing of the Perth Lynx, 117-71.

As mentioned, the opening moments of the contest occurred from deep as the first five made field goals from both teams came from three-point range, with Darcee Garbin and Katie Ebzery leading the charge.

With play settling down slightly and the tempo slowing, Perth continued to make their shots count, knocking down their first five attempts from behind the arc, while Liz Cambage did her best to quell the Lynx’s shooting lethality in the opening phase, with 13 points at the first break.

Five triples from Perth and 21 combined points from Garbin and Ebzery helped the Lynx to a 26-21 lead heading into the second, as Flyers captain Jenna O’Hea found early foul trouble. Still, Cambage commenced the second the same way she finished the first by putting the ball in the net, before Stephanie Blicavs tied things up a minute into the second term.

With every minute that went by in the second, the Flyers picked apart Perth’s offence more and more. At the conclusion of the first half, Southside had forced 10 turnovers from the Lynx, which in turn would lead to 18 points from takeaways and a 54-42 lead at the main break.

Even though both teams had shot remarkably well with Southside shooting 50 per cent and Perth shooting 48 per cent, Cambage (19 points and seven rebounds), Sara Blicavs (10 points and four rebounds) and Bec Cole (10 points) were all the major difference makers during the second quarter, as Cheryl Chambers tried her best to slow the production of Garbin (18 points and four rebounds) and Ebzery (13 points and four assists).

Unable to derail the Southside train, Perth’s care of the basketball continued to waver with their turnovers accumulating into the third quarter still. Capitalising on this, Cole increased her statistics while the Flyers’ secondary unit contributed to the blowout third period which saw Southside tally 35 points compared to the Lynx’s 14 and hold a commanding 89-56 lead.

Despite the result being determined prior to the start of the fourth, both coaches saw it suitable to let their younger prospects earn some ample WNBL court time. Both Rebecca Pizzey and Monique Conti impressed in the fourth for the Flyers, while Perth’s Jewel Williams had a couple of memorable moments to add to her night.

Match proceedings would end with Southside winning in rather fashionable form, coming out 46-point victors in the 117-71 demolition of Perth. It was the combined efforts of Cambage (21 points and seven rebounds), Cole (20 points and five assists) and Sara Blicavs (19 points and six rebounds) that accounted for the majority of the Flyers’ success last night, which bodes well for the squad as they get their chance at redemption in Monday’s Grand Final rematch against the Canberra Capitals.

For the Lynx, it was Garbin’s show, following what was a red-hot first quarter which ultimately culminated in a 24-point and seven-rebound outing, whereas Ebzery (13 points and five assists) and Alex Sharp (10 points) added chunks of points to fill out the box score. Perth has a chance to bounce back against the Sydney Uni Flames on Monday as they hope to gain some traction in the mid-table logjam, in a season that could easily slip away from Ryan Petrik’s side if they cannot find positive results soon.

CAPITALS HOLD ON AGAINST RESILIENT FLAMES, EXTEND WINNING STREAK TO FOUR

Pic: WNBL

THE University of Canberra Capitals have solidified themselves as serious contenders in the WNBL this season, after obtaining their fourth win in a row following a scrappy affair against the Sydney Uni Flames, winning by five points 68-63 to close out yesterday’s trio of games.

Little could separate the Flames and the Capitals early on, but the efforts that Anneli Maley made in the opening 10 minutes proved fruitful for Sydney Uni, with the 22-year-old fighting towards seven points and five rebounds in that time. Coupled with Lauren Scherf’s six points, the Flames would pull away at the end of the first quarter leading 23-11 and forcing eight turnovers off of Canberra in the process.

No Capitals players stood out tremendously in terms of scoring during the first half, but rather Paul Goriss’s side spread out the points production after reducing the deficit to just a couple of baskets during the second quarter.

The same could also be said for the Flames, but their method of scoring was slightly different, as they found the majority of their points from either mid-range, the free-throw line or through second chance points, whereas Canberra kept punishing Sydney Uni in the paint with baskets around the rim.

Leading 39-32 at the main break, the Flames shot average at best, converting on 37 per cent from the field, but Katrina Hibbert’s side inherited a huge boost thanks to their 11 free throws (eight more than the Capitals). Furthermore, Lauren Mansfield started to find her stroke with 11 points after two terms.

Things in the third did not start any better for the Capitals, as they fell behind by double-digits. But a strong move by Marianna Tolo and a fast-break And-One by Tahlia Tupaea made the contest a tight one well into the third.

An 11-4 run by the Caps with three minutes remaining in the penultimate period had Canberra nipping at the heels of the Flames in what was shaping up to be a sprint to the finish line, where either side were threatening to take over.

To round off a tumultuous third phase, a beautiful assist and bucket on consecutive possessions from Kelsey Griffin would secure the Capitals a four-point lead with 10 minutes remaining 57-53, and with Maddison Rocci leading the charge submitting 14 points and four rebounds, a win was certainly within view.

Both sides fought tooth and nail in what was a perfect way to finish off yesterday’s fixtures, where plenty of bodies hit the deck, missed shots were contested by multiple individuals and loose balls were jumped on by both teams in hard-nose smash-mouth brand of basketball. But Canberra seemed to be wading away midway through the fourth and Coach Hibbert’s side needed a dramatic boost with less than five minutes remaining.

With 48 seconds remaining, the game hung in the balance for both sides with one point being the difference. Luckily for the defending champions, Griffin was able to force Mansfield’s fourth turnover and again strip Alison Schwagmeyer just 30 seconds later, which cemented the victory for the Capitals after Keely Froling laid up the game-sealing bucket with three seconds left, therefore allowing Canberra to win the contest 68-63 in a down to the wire slugfest. The victory continuing their winning streak to four games.

It was another impressive night for Rocci, who had 17 points and five assists to show for last night’s efforts, as more of Canberra’s contributors from last season added solid performances. Griffin (11 points, nine rebounds and four assists) and Froling (15 points, 10 rebounds) provided relief on the boards, while Tolo also tallied 13 points of her own. The Capitals now need to hunker down and prepare for a formidable Southside Flyers squad that is still stinging from their Grand Final defeat last season, a side that has also significantly improved since then.

The Flames had their regular performers on display again, as Scherf led the way in scoring with 19 points. Whereas, Maley had another double-double night with 13 points and 12 rebounds next to Mansfield’s 16 points from 36 minutes on the floor. Sydney Uni now have their own concerns considering they now find themselves on a three-game skid and are tied for second-last with the Perth Lynx, who they face next on Monday in a game that will prove to be crucial regarding the future of the fourth seed.

2020 WNBL Round 1 weekday preview: Mackay and Townsville hubs tip-off as all eight teams commence

IN 2020 the Women’s National Basketball League (WNBL) is a little different compared to usual, with the rounds stretching over more days with extra games. At Draft Central, we will preview the weekday games, followed by the weekend games separately to ensure the permutations in the second half of the round are as accurate as possible.

We tip-off Round 1 with all eight sides competing in the North Queensland hubs, starting in Mackay on Wednesday, and then heading to Townsville on Thursday in what should be a blockbuster opening round of action.

* Game times are local/AEDT

ADELAIDE LIGHTING vs. UC CAPITALS
Wednesday, November 11, 5/6pm (Mackay)

Opening the new season is 2019/20 finalists, Adelaide Lightning going up against reigning premiers, UC Capitals. The Capitals will be keen to retain their title in the 2020 shortened season despite losing a couple of key imports over the off-season. In the absence of volume shooter and league Most Valuable Player (MVP) Kia Nurse, and Grand Final Series MVP Olivia Epoupa, the Capitals will have a slightly different starting five heading into the season.

The quartet of Australians crucial to the success fo the Capitals all re-signed with co-captains Kelsey Griffin and Marianna Tolo, and rising stars Keely Froling and Maddison Rocci all rejoining the side. Sydney Uni Flames’ Tahlia Tupaea was tipped to be the fifth member of the starting side for coach Paul Gorriss. Along with Tupaea, the Capitals have also brought in former Lightning talents Hannah Kaser and Ashley Taia to add some spice to the mix, as well as up and coming youngster Jade Melbourne.

While the Capitals largely have a known list, the Lightning will be vastly different to the team that fronted up last season. Chelsea Brook, Steph Talbot are the only two expected starters who got on court last season, with Jasmin Fejo predicted to play a key role in 2020. With veteran Lauren Nicholson heading north to Townsville and captain Nicole Seekamp retiring, the Lightning have brought in key player Marena Whittle, and had added talented college graduate Alana Smith but unfortunately injury has ruled her out for the year. Others who have joined returning back to the country include Taylor Ortlepp, Ella Batish and Carlie Smith, as well as WNBL talents Alex Wilson (Sydney Uni Flames), Louella Tomlinson (Southside Flyers) and Abbey Wehrung (Bendigo Spirit).

The UC Capitals will head in as favourites for the clash coming in as reigning premiers and with more stability in their line-up, but the Lightning will be an exciting team to see how they gel.

PERTH LYNX vs. TOWNSVILLE FIRE
Wednesday, November 11, 7/8pm (Mackay)

Two sides that will be keen to build on their 2019/20 season will be Perth Lynx and Townsville Fire who missed out on the post-season finals. The Fire will be no stranger to the weather conditions in the far north, but find themselves the visiting team in this encounter with the Lynx. The Fire have made a number of changes to invigorate their lineup with both young stars and experienced heads joining the team. The Lynx will also look largely different after some off-season changes, including assistant coach Ryan Petrik stepping up to replace outgoing head coach Andy Stewart.

The biggest intrigue of the match will be the changing of colours of Nadeen Payne and Darcee Garbin who effectively were involved in a trade with the players switching allegiances. Payne went from Perth to Townsville, whilst Garbin joined the Lynx from the Fire. Young gun Shyla Heal was the huge signing of the off-season for the Fire, with up-and-comers Megan McKay, Lara McSpadden and Courtney Woods all strengthening the outfit. Steph Reid crossed from Southside Flyers for more court time and enjoyed a strong QSL season, whilst Lauren Nicholson’s arrival from the Lightning added that experience needed at the Fire around the young talent.

The Lynx did not waste any time by announcing veteran and former Lynx star Sami Whitcomb back for the season, but unfortunately she was mutually released for family reasons. The re-signing of Katie Ebzery was as important as any, whilst Garbin was a welcome inclusion. The omissions are going to hurt, with not only Payne going, but Lauren Mansfield and Alison Schwagmeyer heading to Sydney Uni, and Marena Whittle joining Adelaide Lightning. Perth also brought in some local players with Kayla Steindl, Ashleigh Isenbarger and Mackenzie Clinch-Hoycard all joining the fray, while Jessie Edwards signed on from the Lightning among a number of other re-signings.

It seems the two sides are at the opposite ends of the off-season success with Townsville bringing in a host of big guns, whilst Perth has lost a number of key players making it tough for the Lynx. With the home state advantage, expect the Fire to start off strongly here.

MELBOURNE BOOMERS vs. SYDNEY UNI FLAMES
Thursday, November 12, 6/7pm (Townsville)

Tipping off Thursday nights’s action in Townsville, two sides that will believe they can go deep in the finals series go head-to-head. The Melbourne Boomers have kept a relatively strong line-up together, whilst Sydney Uni Flames have bolstered their hopes of pushing into the finals series. Given the losses the Lightning have had, the Flames are a huge chance to force their way into the top four, and alongside Townsville are the other side likely to crack into the finals.

The Boomers announced signing Tess Madgen from Townsville and quickly tied up Madeleine Garrick, Cayla George and Ezi Magbegor within the first month of the re-signing period. Kalani Purcell, Antonia Farnworth, Penina Davidson, Stella Beck and Rachel Brewster all followed, with Eliza Wright, Hope Terdich and Rachel Antoniadou stepping up from NBL1 level. Possibly the most underrated signing of the period came in late October with the announcement that Tall Black, Ashleigh Karaitiana would join the side after a big QSL season and she will only strengthen that outfit. The three losses were Monique Conti to the Flyers, Paige Price to Bendigo and Chelsea D’Angelo out with an Achilles injury, but the Boomers are still a formidable unit.

The Flames will be an incredibly different outfit in 2020, possibly four of the starting five coming from other sides. June 24 marked a big day for the Flames, announcing he recruitment of Anneli Maley from Southside Flyers, and even bigger the coup of Lauren Mansfield from Perth Lynx. Alison Schwagmeyer followed Mansfield to the Flames, while Kiera Rowe joined Maley in crossing from Southside. The inclusions replaced the likes of Tahlia Tupaea, Brittany Smart and Lara McSpadden who all departed, whilst Turkish-Australian national Funda Nakkasoglu was allowed to sign having dual citizenship being born in Melbourne. Natalie Burton also returned to her home country and will slot straight into the four spot with Lauren Scherf the other key starter for the Flames. Carly Boag (Finland) also returned home to Australia from Europe and will add to the strength of the side.

Melbourne Boomers have the known form and will be favourites in this game, but the Flames have a lot of unknown about them. That can work in their favour once they gel, and could be a dangerous team this season.

BENDIGO SPIRIT vs. SOUTHSIDE FLYERS
Thursday, November 12, 8/9pm (Townsville)

The final game of the first half of the round might be the most anticipated. Not necessarily due to the result, but more so to see the much anticipated starting five of the Southside Flyers. Last year’s runners-up have got enough Opals to open a jewellery shop, and they are favourites for the overall title. Some have suggested it could be the greatest line-up ever assembled, which could well be true which only adds to the pressure and intrigue. Bendigo Spirit will have the toughest assignment up first, with a much more inexperienced lineup compared to the Flyers.

The Spirit lost American Rebecca Tobin who chose to head to Romania, as well as Abbey Wehrung (Adelaide) and Shyla Heal (Townsville) who will all be big losses. They have signed up college returnee Georgia Pineau who should help provide some extra young talent to the team, as well as Amelia Todhunter and Piper Dunlop out of the NBL1 competition. Dunlop is a rising star and one to watch, whilst Mary Goulding has returned from Sweden, and Jennie Rintala crossed over from the Lightning. Paige Price adds some great young talent to the Spirit taking over from Heal, while the re-signings of Alicia Froling, Cassidy McLean and Tessa Lavey were crucial, with the latter also testing herself at AFL Women’s, but will be present in the hub.

Southside Flyers on the other hand went from strength to strength over the off-season. Losing crucial import Mercedes Russell to Turkey due to the no-imports rule, they set about re-signing everybody else. Jenna O’Hea, Rebecca Cole, Sara Blicavs, Aimie Clydesdale and Rebecca Pizzey all signed on in between a host of incredible signings. Steph Blicavs crossed from Adelaide, Rachel Jarry stepped up from NBL1, and Monique Conti came over from cross-town rivals the Boomers. But by far the biggest both physically and metaphorically was Liz Campage with the WNBA champion the biggest signing of the off-season and turning the Flyers into the standout team. The Flyers did lose a few, with Steph Reid going to Townsville, Louella Tomlinson heading to Adelaide and Kiera Rowe going to Sydney Uni, but the inclusions far outweigh the omissions.

It is hard to look past Southside in any game this season just about, and when they are coming up against an inexperienced Bendigo lineup, the Flyers are comfortably the favourites in this one.

Picture: WNBL

2020 WNBL season preview – Part 1: Bottom four sides looking to force their way into finals.

IN the first of our two-part Women’s National Basketball League (WNBL) season preview, we take a look at the four teams that missed out on finals last season and where they might land. Both the Townsville Fire and Sydney Uni Flames have made some exciting changes to their line-ups, whilst Bendigo Spirit has remained relatively stable, and Perth Lynx lost a lot of starters making it a challenging year. Here is how they are shaping up for the 2020 season and where we think they might finish.

Townsville Fire

After a season to forget in 2019/20, Townsville Fire will be gearing up to rise off the canvas and up the WNBL ladder. They added some much needed experience to their starting five line-up and it would not be completely irrational to think that last year’s wooden spooners could make the finals. In fairness, the Fire have lost some quality players who were either starters, or getting considerable minutes, with Abby Bishop released mid-season last year, and Bridget Carleton and Julie Vanloo forced out due to the WNBL’s import rule. Darcee Garbin headed to Perth and Tess Madgen moved to Melbourne, but the ins have been just as impressive.

The Fire have brought in experienced guard Lauren Nicholson who could make a deadly combination of experience and youth in the back court with young gun, Shyla Heal. The duo join Perth’s Nadeen Payne as exciting additions to the starting line-up, whilst tall Zitina Aokuso is effectively a new inclusion to the line-up after missing all of last year. Throw in Mia Murray who returns after a two-year stint off and the entire Townsville Fire starting five is brand new. That means they could completely shock everyone, or struggle to gel, but either way it makes it an exciting time. Others who have joined include Southside Flyers Steph Reid and Lara McSpadden from Sydney Uni, whilst Aliza Fabbro and Kate Gaze re-signed with the Fire. Megan McKay, Courtney Woods and Kelsey McDermott have all returned from overseas, whilst Sharna Thompson showed enough in Tasmania’s SBL to be given a shot on a list.

WHY THEY CAN WIN IT:

They have a great blend of youth and experience, and there is enough talent to suggest they could go all the way. Going from wooden spooners to premiers is near-impossible, and they might not have the experience that some do, but the likes of Nicholson, Murray and Payne will be important.

WHY THEY CAN’T WIN IT:

Five starters, five fresh faces. That will be difficult to gel and they get a baptism of fire up first against title favourites Southside Flyers. In a shortened season a lot of the young legs could prove the difference in between making finals and not.

CHANGES:

IN: Shyla Heal (Bendigo), Lauren Nicholson (Adelaide), Nadeen Payne (Perth), Megan McKay, Courtney Woods, Kelsey McDermott (International), Steph Reid (Southside Flyers), Lara McSpadden (Sydney Uni), Sharna Thompson (TAS SBL)
OUT: Tess Madgen (Melbourne), Darcee Garbin (Perth), Bridget Carleton, Julie Vanloo, Abby Bishop (International)
RE-SIGNED: Mia Murray (returns after two seasons), Zitina Aokuso, Aliza Fabbro, Kate Gaze

POTENTIAL STARTING FIVE:

Lauren Nicholson
Shyla Heal
Mia Murray
Nadeen Payne
Zitina Aokuso

>> Townsville Fire team preview

PREDICTION: 4th-6th

It is every expectation the Fire avoid the bottom two, and they will be in the mid-table logjam with the Lightning and Flames to try and secure a finals spot. Regardless of where they finish, the Fire could well be the most exciting team in the league with plenty of upside to go with consistency and do not be shocked if they surprise a lot of teams with their run.

Sydney Uni Flames

The Sydney Uni Flames finished sixth last season, but were still five wins outside the top four. Expect that gap to close in 2020, but it will just be how much it can close as to whether or not the Flames can make finals. Sydney Uni still appears to have more about them than the bottom two predicted teams with Bendigo and Perth having either not gained much or lost too much respectively, whilst the Flames have added some talented players to the roster. In terms of their outs, Alice Kunek, Tahlia Tupaea and Jessica Kuster have departed, as have Brittany Smart and Lara McSpadden. With a mix of starters and depth gone, the Flames needed to go on a recruiting spree.

They opted to bring in some familiar pairings with Lauren Mansfield and Alison Schwagmeyer from Perth Lynx which was a big coup for the club. Then they recruited Southside Flyers’ duo Anneli Maley and Kiera Rowe with the pair hopeful of seeing more court time this season. A big inclusion was veteran Opal, Natalie Burton who could play at the four or the five working in tandem with the ever-crucial Lauren Scherf. Twins Carly Boag and Christina Boag, and Funda Nakkasoglu also returned from overseas, while Shanae Greaves and Madeleine O’Hehir both re-signed as well. Sherrie Calleia returns coming off an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury to rejoin the team.

WHY THEY CAN WIN IT:

There are enough pieces in the team to form a competitive unit, and they have enough of a mix of bigs and smalls to challenge. The back court duo of Mansfield and Schwagmeyer will already have the connections, as will Maley and Rowe, so there will be less time needed to gel on the court.

WHY THEY CAN’T WIN IT:

The top three teams still seem that touch above, and whilst the net improvement is there, it will still need a lot to go right to cause and upset and claim the title. They are in the hunt, but more of an outsider at this stage.

CHANGES:

IN: Anneli Maley, Kiera Rowe (Southside), Lauren Mansfield, Alison Schwagmeyer (Perth), Funda Nakkasoglu, Natalie Burton, Carly Boag, Christina Boag (International)
OUT: Jessica Kuster (retired), Tahlia Tupaea, Brittany Smat (UC Capitals), Lara McSpadden (Townsville), Alex Wilson (Adelaide), Alex Kunek (International)
RE-SIGNED: Lauren Scherf (contracted), Shanae Greaves, Madeleine O’Hehir, Sherrie Calleia

POTENTIAL STARTING FIVE:

Lauren Mansfield
Alison Schwagmeyer
Anneli Maley
Natalie Burton
Lauren Scherf

>> Sydney Uni Flames team preview

PREDICTION: 4th-7th

The Sydney Uni Flames are one of six teams that could genuinely win it, and they have got a nice balance of talent across the court. It will be tough to upstage the likes of Southside Flyers, but the Flames have been known to cause upsets and could push here.

Bendigo Spirit

Bendigo Spirit has lost a number of crucial players over the off-season with veteran Gabrielle Richards retiring, Rebecca Tobin forced out due to the import rule, Abbey Wehrung heading to Adelaide and young gun Shyla Heal moving to Townsville. Those four outs will sting, but fears for Bendigo’s season may not be that bad considering their re-signings and some handy inclusions.

Centring her team around Carley Ernst, Tracy York brought in Paige Price from Melbourne and Piper Dunlop from the NBL1 to provide the potential lost by Heal’s departure. Add in New Zealand-born forward Mary Goulding and college graduate Georgia Pineau as well as Adelaide Lightning’s Jennie Rintala, and the side has some depth. Cassidy McLean has had an extra 12 months to recover from an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury, while Demi Skinner, Tessa Lavey and Alicia Froling will all be crucial cogs in the team, with Shelby Britten also an important re-signing.

WHY THEY CAN WIN IT:

Bendigo does have stability despite the outs, and have brought in some up-and-coming talents who have potential. If the seasoned stars can produce, and the inclusions lift, anything is possible.

WHY THEY CAN’T WIN IT:

Just seem that rung below the top few teams on overall talent, though could use the season to also provide vital court time to the young ones coming through. Given they could not crack into finals last season and have lost more than they have gained in terms of known quantity, it will be a challenge.

CHANGES:

IN: Paige Price (Melbourne), Piper Dunlop, Amelia Todhunter (NBL1), Mary Goulding, Georgia Pineau (International), Jennie Rintala (Adelaide)
OUT: Shyla Heal (Townsville), Abbey Wehrung (Adelaide), Rebecca Tobin (International), Gabrielle Richards (retired)
RE-SIGNED: Carley Ernst (contracted), Demi Skinner, Tessa Lavey, Cassidy McLean, Shelby Britten, Alicia Froling

POTENTIAL STARTING FIVE:

Amelia Todhunter
Tessa Lavey
Demi Skinner
Alicia Froling
Carley Ernst

>> Bendigo Spirit team preview

PREDICTION: 7th-8th

The Spirit have finished bottom three the past three seasons and it looks likely to continue, though the goal would be to be competitive in every match. York is always looking to bring through the Bendigo youth which will set the Braves up for another successful dynasty like years gone past.

Perth Lynx

The Lynx have had the most challenging off-season with five of their top six players choosing to explore their options in free agency, with four heading to the east coast and WNBA talent Ariel Atkins ruled out due to the import restrictions. It left incoming coach Ryan Petrik a little hamstrung when it came to options, but he has brought in Darcee Garbin from Townsville with some WNBL experience, as well as a host of international young guns returning home.

Unfortunately due to personal reasons and mental health respectively, Sami Whitcomb and Maddison Allen both had to withdraw from the North Queensland hubs which meant the Lynx grabbed some additional players from the WA State Basketball League. The Lynx also signed Emma Clarke late who could well slot right into the starting five, alongside Garbin, captain and Opal Katie Ebzery, and international duo, Alex Ciabattoni and Alexandra Sharp. Though in that scenario the Lynx lack a little height, so Adelaide’s Jessie Williams could provide that as a natural center. They do have the flexibility with local talents in Mackenzie Clinch-Hoycard and Ashleigh Isenbarger able to play the four or the five to allow Garbin to remain at the four.

WHY THEY CAN WIN IT:

It would be a backs-against-the-wall effort under new coach and experienced assistant coach Petrik. They have unpredictability on their side and with a lot of college talent, opposition teams will have to adjust to some likely fast-paced an exciting basketball.

WHY THEY CAN’T WIN IT:

There are too many outs with great experience and the ins, whilst having the potential to reach some impressive levels, there are just too many unknowns at this stage. With some bad luck over the off-season it will be tough for them to challenge the top teams, but expect them to get better as the season rolls on.

CHANGES:

IN: Darcee Garbin (Townsville), Alex Ciabattoni, Alexandra Sharp, Emma Clarke (International), Jessie Edwards (Adelaide), Ashleigh Isenbarger, Kayla Steindl, Mackenzie Clinch-Hoycard (SBL)
OUT: Nadeen Payne (Townsville), Lauren Mansfield, Alison Schwagmeyer (Sydney Uni), Marena Whittle (Adelaide), Ariel Atkins (Import/Turkey)
RE-SIGNED: Katie Ebzery, Nes’eya Parker-Williams, Taylah Burrows, Jewell Williams

POTENTIAL STARTING FIVE:

Katie Ebzery
Alexandra Sharp
Alex Ciabattoni
Darcee Garbin
Jessie Edwards

>> Perth Lynx team preview

PREDICTION: 6th-8th

It is always tough to put any team last but some side had to land there, and after heartbreakingly missing out on finals last season following their impressive season before, it looks like the Perth Lynx were in for a tough year. Whilst they have brought in some great young talent both local and abroad returning home, the outs hurt plain and simple.

WNBL20 Team Preview – Bendigo Spirit

ONE WNBL club ready to move past last season and start fresh when the upcoming campaign starts next Wednesday, is Tracy York’s Bendigo Spirit, who finished with the equal worst record next to the Townsville Fire last season with five wins and 16 losses. This fact coupled with the added element of imports being absent from competition this year, the Spirit will boast one of the most youthful sides set to take the floor over the next six weeks and will certainly be one of the most motivated prior to the opening tip-off.

It is common knowledge that heading into the WNBL20 season, Bendigo’s roster had two main cogs in their team’s machine. The first being Carley Ernst, who was already contracted to play for the Spirit this season. The second being Tessa Lavey, who had entered into Free Agency at the conclusion of last season.

The immediate actions from Bendigo were going to be to reacquire Lavey’s services for another year given her importance to York’s rotation. Last season, she accounted for over 10 points, four assists and three rebounds per game, making her one of the Spirit’s primary producers next to Ernst last year – which led to an announcement on June 10th that Lavey would be returning for another year.

While the team has taken on board numerous new faces over the last few months, a few are also familiar. The signings of Demi Skinner and Cassidy McLean are evident of this, as both had solid seasons in their debut fixtures in the WNBL. For Skinner, averages of 9.1 points and three and a half rebounds rounded out her 2019/20 stat line, whereas McLean accumulated averages of 3.1 points, 1.8 rebounds in a promising first season.

Another impressive name added to the masthead, was 17-year-old Indiana University-commit Paige Price, who is ready to make a name for herself on home soil before commencing her NCAA career in the Hoosier-red next year. Price, who served as a Development Player at the Melbourne Boomers, joined the Spirit as a contracted prospect with the intention of earning consistent minutes, as she sets her sights on competing against some of Australia’s top talents.

Also, worth mentioning is one of the most anticipated returns for next season, with Alicia Froling set to suit up for Bendigo after missing out on last season with a wrist injury, a massive loss given “someone of her calibre”, according to York. Froling’s extensive attributes list will provide much needed depth to the side, given her lengthy four-year college career at Southern Methodist University.

Bendigo’s secondary unit has some impressive additions like experienced former WNBL champion Amelia Todhunter, who will provide the side with invaluable experience while the team spends six weeks in a different state. Others include WNBL debutants like New Zealand Tall Fern Mary Goulding, who completed an accolade-filled three-year stint at Fordham University, Newberry College alum Shelby Britten, who averaged 15.1 points and 4.4 assists during her time there, as well as last and certainly not least, Jennie Rintala, who will join the Spirit after five impressive outings at the Adelaide Lightning last season.

Long-time Bendigo player from the junior level to the WNBL side, Piper Dunlop will serve her first year as one of the Spirit’s Development Players for next season in what is a “dream come true” for the 17-year-old. Next to her is former Boston College Eagles player Georgia Pineau completing the franchise’s 12-player roster for Queensland.

Season Opener for the Bendigo Spirit – Thursday November 12th – 9:00pm (AEDT) vs Southside Flyers @ Townsville Stadium, Townsville

WNBL Player Spotlight – Bendigo Spirit – Amelia Todhunter

TO kick off Bendigo’s player spotlight series, Draft Central looks at the Spirit’s newest addition to their leadership group in 32-year-old and Women’s National Basketball League (WNBL) Champion Amelia Todhunter. The Albury-born country superstar will once again head to the bush, announcing in mid-July that she would be joining Tracy York’s side for WNBL21.

Todhunter, who has had her fair share of WNBL action throughout her productive career, will be moving to her fourth club dating back to 2007 where she initiated her career at the Dandenong Rangers for three seasons. Following the 2009/10 campaign, Todhunter made the move to Dandenong’s crosstown rivals, the Bulleen Boomers (now Melbourne), where she found her only taste of championship glory. While Todhunter played limited minutes in both the semi-final against the Canberra Capitals and the grand final rematch, the then-youngster provided a positive presence coming off the bench, helping the franchise earn their first ever title.

After two seasons with the short-lived West Coast Waves franchise in Perth (later became the Perth Lynx), Todhunter returned back to Victoria to serve sizeable stints with both the newly formed Melbourne Boomers and again the Rangers. The move to the Spirit came about as a result of a couple of factors according to head coach York, with the first being the delayed Free Agency period, and the second being the restriction of imports for next season.

“Her name came up and I spoke to her a few times as well as a couple of other people,” York said in an interview with Draft Central. “Her experience, leadership, maturity and the fact that she’s a great defender, which ticks a big box for me, and from then on it was a no-brainer after we started talking.”

Todhunter has indicated to York that she understands if she is not given a starting role on a consistent basis, despite having over 200 WNBL games to her name. But the veteran guard still believes she has a lot to learn under her new coach, she told the Bendigo Advertiser.

“I am so excited to be playing for the Spirit,” Todhunter said. “I’ve known of Tracy around the league both WNBL and NBL, so I am thrilled to learn and grow even more from Tracy’s knowledge and experience.

“This year I want to be 100 per cent true to who I am as a player and person. I want to combine my basketball skills and experiences with my knowledge in well-being to help grow each player and create strong chemistry within the team.

“On court, I am excited to get out there and play my role. I want to positively impact the team by bringing my relentless defence, hard-work, and dedication to the game while maintaining my fun, energetic nature,” Todhunter finalised.

York further stated the importance of Todhunter’s level of experience, highlighting she was the perfect fit into the team’s system and is excited to see what she can bring to the table and how she can ease developing players into the national limelight. “Her mindset is not about just herself,” York said. “It’s about how she can make others get better and help young players develop in the long run.”

Todhunter will bestow her cache of knowledge upon an extensive list of young prospects next season. These include the likes of a recovered Alicia Froling, second year Bendigo players Cassidy McLean and Demi Skinner, former Melbourne Boomer Paige Price, as well as Development Players Piper Dunlop and Georgia Pineau.

WNBL Free Agency Update: Lynx and Spirit

TO round out Draft Central’s WNBL Free Agency updates, we look at the team out west and the team out back, as the Perth Lynx and the Bendigo Spirit prepare for what will hopefully be bounce back seasons, after each of the sides missed out on postseason action in WNBL20.

PERTH LYNX

The Perth-based side were looking to make a big splash into the Free Agency pond from the get-go. To do this, newly signed Head Coach Ryan Petrik pursued the signing of WNBA Seattle Storm star, Sami Whitcomb. Whitcomb, who committed to three seasons with the Lynx between 2015 and 2018, will make her return to the club for next season under her new coach.

Following Whitcomb’s announcement, Petrik started to compile his core two days later. The re-acquisition of current Australian Opal Katie Ebzery would be the club’s next move, after the 30-year-old would finish sixth amongst league leaders in scoring (16.3 points per game) and 10th in the category of assists (4.2 per game).

Perth-native Darcee Garbin and familiar face, Alex Ciabattoni would be subequent moves for the Lynx. Garbin would be one of the two participants in a two-way trade between the Lynx and the Townsville Fire, as Nadeen Payne would head east to north Queensland. The latter of the two new additions, Ciabattoni has in the past donned the Red, Grey and Black, after a successful 2015/16 season where she would be rewarded with the Rookie of the Year accolade, which was followed by two more seasons before heading overseas to play in Italy.

The pattern of new signings for the side became more consistent, once Perth consolidated their essential picks. The weekly signings kicked off with defensive anchor in Maddie Allen, who averaged 1.8 blocks per contest last season (second only to Adelaide’s import Brianna Turner). A week later, Petrik would announce the addition of one of the League’s most promising young prospects in Nas’eya Parker-Williams, hoping to increase her minutes three-fold compared to her past campaigns.

Two out of Perth’s final three roster alterations came by way of returning college hoopers. The first of which being University of Minnesota alum, Jessie Edwards, who would lead the Gophers in blocks each season during her time in the States. Concluding her three seasons in Minneapolis, Edwards would finish sixth all-time in blocks and ninth all-time in offensive rebounds. The second college recruit of the signing period came by way of Wake Forest’s Alex Sharp, who completed a spectacular career with the Deacons accumulating over 1000 points and 900 rebounds during her time in North Carolina.

The most recent piece of the puzzle was the re-signing of 19-year-old guard Tayah Burrows, who has decided to spend another season in the WNBL before heading off to the States to commence her college career, which will be key to helping Coach Petrik get his new team to a winning record.

Contracted:

Jewel Williams

Re-signed:

Katie Ebzery
Maddie Allen
Nas’eya Parker-Williams
Tayah Burrows

Signed:

Sami Whitcomb
Darcee Garbin
Alex Ciabattoni
Jessie Edwards
Alex Sharp

 

BENDIGO SPIRIT

Head Coach Tracy York has once again had her hands full this offseason, as the combination of renewing her assistant coach’s contract and not having access to imports this season, has resulted in a major facelift for the Bendigo squad heading into the WNBL21 season.

The staff from Bendigo would kick off the Free Agency period, as the team obtained the first signature of the season, with the re-signing of Demi Skinner being the first move made across all eight sides in the competition. After Skinner, would be another re-signing, as Opal nominee Tessa Lavey committed to the side for a second straight season.

With York securing the majority of her core unit, herself and assistant coach Mark Alabakov could start to shop around for fresh new talent to join their ranks and would look to an individual who is keen to make a return to the WNBL. Cassidy McLean’s first season with the Spirit in the 2018/19 season would see her average 3.1 points, 1.8 rebounds and an assist in her debut campaign, however, after sustaining a knee injury that would see her miss the 2019/20 season, she is raring to go for a more successful 2020/21 fixture. Next up would be Indiana University commit and former Melbourne Boomers development player, Paige Price. The daughter of legend Bulleen Boomer, Simone Gloster, Price looks to gain more professional experience before starting her career in the Hoosiers’ program overseas.

Other youngsters to join the fray would be long-time member of the Bendigo Braves’ NBL1 squad Piper Dunlop (Development Player), former Fordham University sharpshooter and New Zealand Tall-Fern Mary Goulding, as well as 23-year-old Shelby Britten.

York’s final two acquisitions of the offseason included Alicia Froling (twin sister of Canberra Capitals’ forward Keely Froling) as well as long-time competition veteran, Amelia Todhunter, who hopes to bestow her invaluable experience to younger players during the later stages of her championship-winning career. Meanwhile, Carley Ernst (Bendigo’s only contracted player prior to the signing period) hopes to pull together this new team and get the Spirit off the bottom of the WNBL standings after a lacklustre 2020 ending.

Contracted:

Carley Ernst

Re-signed:

Demi Skinner
Tessa Lavey

Signed:

Cassidy McLean
Paige Price
Piper Dunlop
Mary Goulding
Shelby Britten
Amelia Todhunter
Alicia Froling

Picture: Seattle Times