Tag: Cayla George

Olympics review: Day 11 – Three of the higher four women’s seeds bow out in quarterfinals

THREE of the top four seeds following the group stage of the women’s basketball bowed out in upset quarter finals. Group winners, Spain and China both lost to France and Serbia who finished third and second in their respective groups, whilst Belgium – the highest finishing second side to earn a spot in the first pool – also bowed out, losing to Japan. The only result that went as expected was powerhouse United States rolling Australia in a battle of the top two nations in the world, but it ended up being a fizzer with a 24-point win going the way of the world number ones.

China (70) defeated by Serbia (77)

Serbia produced a memorable fourth quarter performance to run over the top of China in a come-from-behind win by seven points. Going ahead by two at the first break and at half-time, Serbia found itself in trouble when the Group C leader piled on 25 points to 14 to open up a nine-point advantage with a quarter to play, Lucky for the European nation, it was up for the task, pouring on 28 points to 12 in the lat stanza to win, 77-70. The teams were even across the board with basically nothing separating them on most stats, though Serbia were cleaner with 10 less turnovers (13-23), whilst scoring far more points in the paint (42-26).

Jelena Brooks scored a team-high 18 points, while Sonja Vasic (16 points, 10 rebounds) picked up a double-double, and Ana Dabovic (13 points, six assists) was the key facilitator. For China, Shao Ting managed the 17 points, six rebounds and five assists in a big effort for the losing side, whilst Han Xu (15 points, seven rebounds) and Li Yueru (12 points, six rebounds) were also busy across the match.

Australia (55) defeated by United States (79)

The top two nations in the world clashed, and it was the unbeaten world number ones who came up trumps, with United States putting Australia to the sword to win by 24 points, and end a disappointing Olympics campaign for the Opals. From the first tip-off it was clear the United States were on a mission, and the Gold Medal favourites never looked liked losing, piling on 26 points to 12 in the first term, the United States led by 21 at the main break. That blew right out to 29 by the final break, before Australia grabbed some consolation points in the final term to win it, but still lose by 24, 55-79. The United States were far more accurate (45 to 30 per cent from the field), had more rebounds (44-38) and assists (24-17), and punished Australia on points from turnovers (20-11), with a 17-point run coming at one stage.

Breanna Stewart led the way with 23 points, five rebounds and three assists for the United States, teaming up well with the likes of Brittney Griner (15 points, eight rebounds) and A’ja Wilson (10 points, four rebounds). Sue Bird (nine points, five assists) and Chelsea Gray (seven points, eight assists) were the key facilitators in the victory. Leilani Mitchell led the Australians with 14 points, six assists and three rebounds, followed by Cayla George (11 points, seven rebounds) in what was the Opals lowest score since the 2000 Sydney Olympics.

Japan (86) defeated Belgium (85)

The tightest match of the quarter finals came in a thrilling come-from-behind win from Japan that could have gone either way. The home nation led at quarter time over Olympic Games debutants Belgium by three points, but then found themselves down by a point at the main break and seven with a quarter to play. Storming home in an entertaining last quarter, Japan hit the front with 16 seconds remaining courtesy of a tripe from Saki Hayashi to go up by one, and whilst Belgium chewed up the clock to get the ball to Kim Mestdagh for the buzzer-beating attempt, it did not go in and the home nation advanced through to the final four with a one-point victory, 86-85. Belgium was more efficient from the field (51 to 47 per cent), though Japan had more three-point makes (14-11). The home team was beaten in most statistical areas, but dug deep and just found a way to win in the end by getting to the line more often and converting.

Yuki Miyazawa was the standout with a whopping seven of 13 makes from beyond the arc to total 21 points, three rebounds and two assists, leading the way with Maki Takada (19 points, four rebounds and two assists) aiding well. Himawari (12 points, seven rebounds) and Rui Machida (10 points, 14 rebounds) were the other two key players on court for the Japanese. Emma Meesseman was undoubtedly a standout for Belgium, amassing a double-double of 25 points, 11 rebounds and six assists, doing the bulk of the work with Mestdagh (24 points – seven of 11 from long-range – seven rebounds and five assists), while Julie Allemand (11 points, eight assists and four rebounds) was also impressive.

Spain (64) defeated by France (67)

World number three Spain joined Australia and Canada on the sidelines as top four nations out of the Olympics, falling to the fifth ranked France in an entertaining three-point contest. The French led by five points at quarter time, six at half-time and seven by the final change, holding the Spanish at bay to set up a huge final term. Spain came home with a wet sail, winning the term 16-12, and even having a three-point attempt off the hand of Maite Cazorla with four seconds remaining to tie the game, but it was not to be with France picking up the rebound and securing the victory. France was simply more efficient from the field (49 to 34 per cent accuracy), and had more assists (20-12). Spain topped the rebounds (38-36), dominating the offensive count (17-5), but it was France who won the defensive count (31-21) which contributed to the narrow 67-64 victory.

Martine Johannes was the key scorer for France with 18 points, five rebounds and four assists, teaming up with other double-figure scorer Gabby Williams (11 points, four assists and three rebounds). Alix Duchet (eight points, five assists) was important in distributing the ball on offence. For Spain, Astou Ndour hit 16 points and 11 rebounds in a massive double-double effort, while Cazorla (12 points), and Cristina Ouvina (11 points, five rebounds and three assists) also contributed throughout the game.

 

Picture credit: Reuters/Brian Snyder

Olympics review: Day 9 – Opals dominate second half to narrowly secure final eight spot

AUSTRALIA left it late but managed to grab a quarter finals spot in the Tokyo Olympics thanks to a huge second half, whilst Japan, United States and China all won their respective clashes yesterday.

Nigeria (83) defeated by Japan (102)

Japan moved into second place in its group with a 19-point triumph over Nigeria in a high-scoring performance. The home nation piled on 30 points to 22 in the opening term, then extended the lead to 13 points by the main break. Another high scoring term of 33 points to Nigeria’s 19, the margin blew out to 27 with a quarter to play, before the loser hit back to cut the deficit back to under 20, but Japan still saluted, 102-83. Nigeria scored at 54 per cent from the field to Japan’s 49 per cent, and led the rebounds (37-33), but the Japanese nailed a remarkable 19 long-range jumpers, and dominated the assists (34-26), as well as capitalised on points from turnovers (33-12).

Five Japanese players reached double-figure points, led by Saki Hayashi (23 points – seven of 11 from long-range – two rebounds and two assists). Yuki Miyazawa (19 points – five of eight from beyond the arc – and two rebounds) also found plenty of points, while Maki Takada (15 points, five rebounds and three assists) and Himawari Akaho (12 points, seven rebounds and five assists contributed in multiple ways. Victoria Macaulay (18 points) was the top scorer for Nigeria, with Oderah Chidom (13 points, seven rebounds and three assists) and Ezinne Kalu (11 points, six assists and three rebounds) the other two key scorers in the loss.

France (82) defeated by United States (93)

The other Group B match which enabled Japan to grab second spot was the Gold Medal favourites United States holding off a determined France by 11 points. The French needed to keep the deficit to under 15 points to guarantee themselves a place in the next round, and they did just that with a hard-fought effort. Actually leading by three points at quarter time, the French fell behind by six at the main break, cut the deficit back to four at the final change, before falling away in the last as the world number ones piled on 22 points to 15 to win, 93-82. The United States shot at a higher efficiency from the field (56 to 45 per cent) and despite having less rebounds (30-34), had more assists (30-22) and more points in the paint (46-30).

A’ja Wilson topscored for the United States with 22 points, seven rebounds and three assists, teaming up well with Breanna Stewart (17 points, seven rebounds and seven assists). Tina Charles (15 points, five assists and two rebounds) and Brittney Griner (11 points, three rebounds) were the other two double-figure scorers. Endene Miyem (15 points, four rebounds) was one of six double-figure scorers for France, as Sandrine Gruda (12 points, six rebounds), Marine Johannes (11 points, seven assists and two rebounds) and Gabby Williams (10 points, five rebounds and three assists) contributed across the court.

China (74) defeated Belgium (62)

In a battle of the undefeated Group C teams, China grabbed top spot in the group with a 12-point win over Belgium. Whilst Belgium’s huge points differential – thanks to the massive win over Puerto Rico – ensured it would advance through to the next stage and avoid the three group winners, the second placed side still showed plenty of fight. Leading by four points at quarter time, Belgium found themselves down by a point at half-time, and then China crept away in the second half, outscoring Belgium 36 points to 25 to win by 12, 74-62. China scored at 52 per cent accuracy from the field compared to Belgium’s 41 per cent, including seven of 16 to just two of 18. They also led the rebounds (37-29) in the win.

In an even team performance, Li Yueru was the top scorer with 14 points, as well as eight assists and four rebounds. Li Meng had 11 points and seven rebounds, with Pan Zhenqi (10 points, three rebounds) and Yang Liwei (10 points, four assists) also busy. For Belgium, Emma Meesseman had a match-high 24 points in a huge effort, to accompany her seven rebounds and two assists. Julie Allemand (12 points, three rebounds and four assists) and Kim Mestdagh (12 points, five assists and two rebounds) were the other key scorers for the losing side.

Australia (96) defeated Puerto Rico (69)

Australia came back from a disappointing first half against lowly Puerto Rico to storm to a 27-point win and grab a quarter finals spot by the skin of their teeth. Despite needing to win by at least 25 points, the Opals trailed by two points at quarter time and only led by a point at half-time. The world number twos finally clicked into gear with a dominant 23-8 third term, before skating home with momentum in a 28-17 final stanza to just get over the line, 96-69. It was not without a cheeky last second three-point attempt from Puerto Rico, which, if it had gone in, would have eliminated the Opals. Australia scored at a higher clip from the field (46 to 38 per cent), had more rebounds (47-34) and assists (32-15), and less turnovers (12-17) which enabled the Opals to score more points from turnovers (20-8).

Marianna Tolo was enormous with a double-double of 26 points and 17 rebounds – seven offensive – as well as four assists. Cayla George (19 points, seven rebounds and five assists) and Jenna O’Hea (15 points, five rebounds and four assists) combined for seven of the Opals’ 12 three-point makes. Leilani Mitchell (12 points, six assists) and Ezi Magbegor (10 points, four rebounds and two assists) were the others to hit double-figure points. Jazmon Gwathmey (26 points, six rebounds and two assists) was the top scorer for Puerto Rico, while Pamela Rosado (13 points, three rebounds and three assists), Jennifer O’Neill (12 points, four rebounds and two assists) and Ali Gibson (10 points, six rebounds) were the others to impress in the loss.

 

The quarter finals are now decided, with the top two in the world going head-to-head in the United States and Australia, while Spain and France, China and Serbia and Japan and Belgium lock horns in the other quarter finals.

 

Picture credit: AP

Olympics review: Day 6 – China hands Australia devastating loss

AUSTRALIA Opals were handed a huge upset by China to keep them winless so far in the Olympics while the US continued to roll on this time notching up victory against Japan.

Belgium (87) defeated Puerto Rico (52)

It was a one-sided affair as Belgium reigned supreme over Puerto Rico claiming a 35-point win. Belgium won every quarter with their best performance coming in the second as the kept Puerto Rico to a mere eight points while piling on 20 of their own. They were in complete control and did not relent on their pressure and constant attack to keep the scoreboard ticking over. Belgium imposed themselves in all aspects of the game especially when it came to field goal percentage shooting at 52 per cent compared to a lowly 24. They also had more rebounds (54-33) and assists (28-11) but coughed up the ball more than Puerto Rico (20-13).

It was another stellar performance by Emma Meesseman who impressed all over the court racking up a double-double with her 26 points and 15 rebounds. She was the lynchpin for Belgium while Hanne Mestdagh also got busy with her 18 points at 60 per cent from the field. Kim Mestdagh was also in fine form for Belgium producing 15 points in her 25 minutes of court time along with six rebounds, two assists and a steal. Julie Allemand was the other one that bobbed up with a handy 10 points, six rebounds, seven assists and two steals. Jazmon Gwathmey led the charge for Puerto Rico with her 20 points albeit at 37 per cent from the field while also reeling in five rebounds. Jennifer O’Neill was solid with her nine points, two rebounds and one assist while India Pagan made her presence felt with her six points in just nine minutes.

USA (86) defeated by Japan (69)

After somewhat of a slow start, the USA managed to ride home and claim victory over Japan in convincing fashion. Down by two points at quarter time USA flipped the script in the second term to notch up 21 points while keeping Japan to just the 10. They managed to keep the foot on the pedal throughout the third while they really ramped it home in the final quarter 21 to 16. Field goal percentage proved to be the difference once again with the US converting at 54 per cent while Japan only managed 35 per cent. The United States also had more rebounds 48 to 33 and racked up a whopping six blocks to zero in the win.

A’Ja Wilson continued her merry way with 20 point and 10 rebounds highlighting just explosive she is with ball in hand while Breanna Stewart proved she was not here to muck around slotting 15 points at 60 per cent from the field while also reeling in a whopping 13 rebounds, 12 of which were defensive. Brittney Griner left her mark with her 15 points and five rebounds as Jewell Loyd chimed in with 12 points. Maki Takada was the topscorer for Japan producing 15 points and three rebounds in her 32 minutes while teammate Saki Hayashi managed 12 points. Monica Okoye was the only other player to make it out of single digits with her 11 points in 15 minutes of action.

France (87) defeated Nigeria (62)

France got the chocolates over Nigeria with a commanding 25 point win. France raced out to the lead in the opening quarter creating a six point buffer and continued to fire in the second term with 26 points 215. Nigeria continued to ply their trade but were a step off the pace as France increased that heart margin at three quarter time. Statistically it was a lot closer than the scoreboard would suggest as France had the higher field goal percentage at 50 per cent compared to 35 and more rebounds 45 to 32 but had more turnovers 15 to 13 proving Nigeria were careful with ball in hand.

The number 13 proved to be the magic number for France as four players such as Alix Duchet, Marine Johannes, Endene Miyem and Gabby Williams managed 13 points. Williams also notched up nine rebounds and four assists in the win. Sandrine Gruda did one better draining 14 points and fell just short of a double-double with her nine rebounds. For Nigeria it was Promise Amukamara that did the heavy lifting with her 11 points and three rebounds as Ezinne Kalu got busy with 10 points in 32 minutes.

China (76) defeated Australia (74)

China secured the two-point win in controversial fashion with Yueru Li handed two free throws after the buzzer to steal the win. It had been a topsy turvy game from the get-go with Australia unable to really assert their dominance on China as they skipped out to an eight point lead at quarter time. Although the Opals fought their way back into the contest they never looked in control with China once again pulling away in the third term with a 17 points to nine quarter. In fact the lead got out to as many as 11 points midway through the fourth before back-to-back triples from Jenna O’Hea levelled the scores with less than two seconds on the clock. But it was not to be as China triumphed in an emphatic win.

China was in the driver’s seat for much of the match as Siyu Wang piled on 20 points at 67 per cent accuracy from the field while her conversion from the charity stripe was even better slotting seven from nine at 78 per cent. She also managed three rebounds and five assists. Yueru Li not only clunked the sealer but managed 12 points, seven rebounds and five assists in the win while teammate Meng Li also got busy with her 11 points and seven assists. Liewei Yang was the only other player to reach double-digits with her 10 points, two rebounds and two assists. For Australia it was inaccuracy that cost them as Ezi Magbegor led the charge with her 15 points, four rebounds and one assists. O’Hea was the next best with her 11 points at 57 per cent from the field, while Cayla George managed 10 points, five rebounds and three assists before being fouled out of the game in the final second. Both Katie Ebzery and Leilani Mitchell worked tirelessly for their nine points but managed a mere 18 and 33 per cent respectively from the field.

Photo credit: Eric Gay

Olympics review: Day 3 – Belgium causes upset against Opals

THE men were given a rest day on Day 3 of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics while for the women’s draw it was full steam ahead as four games took place. Japan opened its campaign with a gutsy win while Belgium also made its intentions clear with a dominant victory over Australia.

Women’s: 

Japan (74) defeated France (70)

The contest between Japan and France went right down to the wire with the host nation spoiling the party to clinch a four-point win. France crept out to the lead at quarter time boasting a four point lead but is where it stopped as Japan steadily fought back. By half time they were back within two points before they well and truly took control of the game in the third to steal the momentum before sealing the deal in the final term.

There were three main figures for Japan as Saki Hayashi led all comers with her 12 points despite only being on court for 17 minutes. Moeko Nagaoka was in good shooting form sitting at 75 per cent from the field and finishing with 11 points and three assists to her name. teammate Maki Takada was the only other player to hit double-digits with 10 points while Rui Machida chimed in with seven points and a whopping 11 assists in the win. Sandrine Gruda dominated for France with 18 points at 64 per cent from the field while also accumulating nine rebounds and one steal. Endene Miyem made her presence felt for France with her 12 points, six rebounds and three assists as Gabby Williams was the next best with her nine points, four rebounds, five assists, four steals and two blocks in an all-round impressive performance.

Nigeria (72) defeated by USA (81)

Team USA kicked off their campaign in style with a nine-point win over Nigeria. It was not all their own way through as Nigeria held sway in the opening term to earn the upper hands and a chance to cause an upset. But the quality and class of the US came to play in the second and third term as they piled on 53 points to Nigeria’s 30 to swing momentum into their favour. Nigeria were not about to just lie down though as they rallied in the final term to give USA a real scare draining 22 points to 11 but they left their run a little too late.

Ezinne Kalu dominated for Nigeria producing 16 points at 54 per cent from the field while she also recorded six rebounds and two assists. Victoria Macaulay was not far off the pace sinking 11 points, three rebounds – all of which were defensive – two steals and two blocks. Both Promise Amukamara and Adaora Elonu managed 10 points each in the loss for Nigeria. A’Ja Wilson made a real splash for the US draining a game-high 19 point points at 60 per cent from the field. She also racked up 11 rebounds and four assists. Teammate Brittney Griner was also notched up a double-double sinking 13 points and 10 rebounds in her 20 minutes out on court. Diana Taurasi was in fine form nailing 10 points while Breanna Stewart just fell short of a double-double collecting nine points and 11 rebounds in the win. Although Sue Bird did not have an influence on the scoreboard her ability to set up plays was unquestionable as she recorded 13 dimes.

Australia (70) defeated by Belgium (85)

Belgium took Australia by surprise in the final term to arrest the lead and then steal the win from right under the Opals’ noses. It was a close contest from the opening jump-ball as the lead ebbed and flowed as Belgium held the lead at quarter time before the Opals hit back in the second to reverse the scoreline. But Belgium just proved to be too strong and too dominant winning both the third and fourth quarter. In fact, in the final stanza of play the Opals were kept to a mere 13 points as Belgium piled on 29 to really romp home the 15-point victory.

There were a couple of shining lights for the Opals with Ezi Magbegor impressing with her 20 points in 32 minutes of court time. She proved to be the real go-to girl in offence, often weaving her way towards the basket while she also imposed herself off the boards racking up 10 rebounds. Cayla George was another highlight for the Aussies draining 12 points, 10 rebounds and four assists while Katie Ezbery also made her presence felt knocking back 11 points, nine rebounds and six assists. But the real problem for the Opals was Emma Meesseman with the Belgian star getting a hand in just about everything and dominating on the scoreboard with her game-high 32 points at 58 per cent from the field. She fell just short of a double-double finishing with nine rebounds to her name along with five assists, four steals and a block in what was a complete performance. Julie Allemand chimed in with a handy 16 points and impressive 11 assists as Antonia Delaere got busy with her 17 points at 55 per cent from the field plus her four assists.

Puerto Rico (55) defeated by China (97)

China claimed a monster win over Puerto Rico with a 42-point victory to really cement themselves as contenders. There was no denying that China came out with a point to prove pouring on the points in the opening term to establish a 15-point lead. They steadily built on that in the second quarter with a 21-9 term and refused to take the foot off the pedal in the third to really assert their dominance. The final quarter was much of the same as China drilled home 26 points to 16 as they simply could not be denied in attack or defence.

Yueru Li topped the table for China with her 21 points and 12 rebounds in what was a one-woman show as Meng Li got busy with her 15 points and four assists. Other key contributors for China were Xu Han and Zhenqi Pan who both managed 11 points each with Han also imposing herself on the boards with 14 rebounds. Puerto Rico had a couple of players step up to the plate with Pamela Rosado leading the way with her 14 points. She found her stroke from three point range with three triples from five attempts as she also recorded two assists and two rebounds. Jennifer O’Neill made her presence felt with 13 points in her 30 minutes while Isalys Quinones had a stats stuffing performance with her 10 points, five rebounds and one assist.

Photo credit: Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

NBL1 Women’s stats update: June 10

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

POINTS

CENTRAL

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

NORTH

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

SOUTH

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

WEST

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

ASSISTS

CENTRAL

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

NORTH

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

SOUTH

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

WEST

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

REBOUNDS

CENTRAL

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

NORTH

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

SOUTH

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

WEST

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

Picture credit: NBL1

NBL1 North wrap: Round 2

RETURNING for Round 2 of the National Basketball League (NBL)1 North competition, there were a number of tight contests, and some blowouts across both the men’s and women’s divisions.

WOMEN:

Gold Coast Rollers (91) def. Cairns Dolphins (63)

Gold Coast Rollers backed up their double-win first round with a third straight victory to open Round 2 of NBL1 North, defeating Cairns Dolphins by 28 points at home. the Rollers piled on 50 points to 33 in the opening half, then lead by as much as 31 points at the final break, before the Dolphins won the last quarter to cut the final deficit to 28, 91-63. Lauren Mansfield (19 points, eight assists, seven rebounds and four steals), Casey Samuels (16 points, six rebounds and four steals) and Caitlin Cunningham (16 points, four rebounds and three assists) were the top players for the Rollers in the victory. The two key players for the Dolphins were Sarah Heard (25 points, seven rebounds, three assists and three steals) and Leichan Williams (16 points, five rebounds).

Mackay Meteorettes (95) def. Rockhampton Cyclones (43)

Mackay Meteorettes proved far too good for Rockhampton Cyclones, winning by 52 points in a dominant display at home on Friday night. The Meteorettes piled on 59 points to 15 in the opening half blitz, and while the third term actually went the way of the Cyclones 23-17, the Meteorettes put the foot down again in the final stanza 19-5 to run away with the contest, 95-43. Cayla George (25 points, 16 rebounds, six assists and two blocks), Heidi Freeburn (23 points, nine rebounds and seven assists) and Paris Santacaterina (21 points, six rebounds and two steals) all had big performances. For the Cyclones, Katrina Clifford (20 points, eight rebounds, five steals and two assists) did most of the heavy lifting, while Tori Rouse (nine points, four rebounds) was the next best.

Brisbane Capitals (65) def. by Southern District Spartans (87)

Southern Districts won the battle of the Round 1 winners, knocking off Brisbane Capitals by 24 points on the road. The Spartans took control in the opening half to lead 53-28 at the main break, before a tighter second half saw the Capitals cut the deficit to 24 at the final buzzer to go down 65-87. Nadeen Payne (21 points, five rebounds), Kalani Purcell (13 points, seven rebounds and three steals) and Madelyn Willey (11 points, 11 assists and four rebounds) all impressed in the win. Meg Essex was the only double-figure scorer for the home team, scoring 10 points, four rebounds, while Stephanie Collins (nine points, three rebounds) and Brooke Blair (nine points, six steals) were the next best.

Ipswich Force (96) def. Cairns Dolphins (83)

Ipswich Force bounced back from a Round 1 loss to hand Cairns Dolphins a third straight defeat, winning by 13 points. The Dolphins bolted out to a 14-point lead at quarter time, but it was all the Force from there, dominating the second term 36-20 to retake the lead by two at half-time, then went on with it in the second half to win, 96-83. Catherine MacGregor (32 points, three assists and three rebounds) had a big performance, while Amy Lewis almost recorded a triple-double of 25 points, nine rebounds and seven assists, and Georgia Ralph finished with 15 points, three rebounds and three assists. Cairns’ Myra Donkin (34 points, nine rebounds and seven assists) almost had a triple-double of her own, while Heard racked up a massive double-double in the loss with 25 points and 17 rebounds.

Northside Wizards (63) def. Sunshine Coast Phoenix (62)

Northside Wizards got home in a one-point thriller against Sunshine Coast Phoenix, holding firm in the dying seconds to record a 63-62 win at home. In a see-sawing contest, the Wizards managed to come good in the final term after trailing by a point at the last chance to win in a low-scoring epic. Courtney Woods finished with a match-high 24 points four the Wizards, also collecting 10 rebounds and five assists. Regan McCarty (nine points, 10 rebounds, four assists and two steals) and Alice O’Driscoll (seven points, five rebounds and three blocks) were others who stood out in the win. For the Phoenix, Jennifer Carden-David had 20 points and 19 rebounds – 10 offensive – in a massive double-double along with two steals, while Kathleen MacLeod (14 points, six assists, three rebounds and three steals) and Georgia Berry (12 points, six rebounds) were also solid.

Red City Roar (53) def. by South West Metro Pirates (80)

South West Metro Pirates picked up a big 27-point win on the road against Red City Roar. The Pirates won every quarter with an eight-point difference in the first and third terms and 10 points in the final term to run away with the 80-53 victory. Bree Farley (21 points, six rebounds and five assists) and Tylah King (21 points, six rebounds) were the equal top-scorers, while Kayla Kiriau (18 points, nine rebounds, eight assists and two steals) was also strong. Annaliese Watkinson (22 points, three rebounds and two assists) was the lone scorer for the Roar, while Ash Kelman-Poto (nine points, four rebounds, three steals and two assists) and Georgia Smith (eight points, seven rebounds and two assists) also tried hard.

Townsville Flames (90) def. Rockhampton Cyclones (63)

The Cyclones suffered their second consecutive defeat, going down to Townsville Flames in a one-sided contest. The Flames dominated the opening half, putting up 56-28, before the Cyclones matched it with their opponents in the second half, but the damage was done by then with the Flames winning 90-63. Steph Reid managed 27 points, five rebounds, five assists and four steals in an all-round effort, while Mia Murray shot six of 13 from long-range to finish with 24 points, seven rebounds and two steals. Micaela Cocks (10 points, six rebounds and three assists) was also prominent in the win. Lara McSpadden knocked down 26 points, eight rebounds and two assists for the Cyclones, while Akaysha Muggeridge managed the 11 points, three assists, two rebounds and two steals.

Logan Thunder (94) def. Ipswich Force (37)

Ipswich Force certainly found out just how good Logan Thunder can be, getting smashed by 57 points after the Force won their early game over the weekend. It was the first three quarters that did all the damage, with Logan racing out to a 76 points to 23 at the final break, before a tighter fourth quarter saw the Force keep in touch, but were too far gone by then, going down 94-37. Mikaela Ruef (32 points, 26 rebounds) dominated in the huge win, while Carla Drennan (16 points, four steals, three rebounds, three assists and three blocks) and Ashley Taia (14 points, four rebounds and two assists) were also lively. For the Force, Ali Burke was the highest points-scorer with nine points, nine rebounds and five assists, while Amy Lewis (seven points, three rebounds) also tried hard in a heavy loss.

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Gold Coast Rollers (97) def. Cairns Marlins (68)

Gold Coast Rollers proved too good for Cairns Marlins, getting up by 29 points at home thanks to a dominant second and fourth quarter where they piled on 51-27 in that time to help them set up the 97-68 win. A whopping seven players had double-digit points in the win, with Callum Dalton (13 points, 10 rebounds and two assists), Tom Howard (12 points, nine rebounds and three assists), Jaryd Eustace (13 points, eight assists, three rebounds and three steals) and Preston Le Gassick (13 points, six rebounds and five assists) all among the better players. Alex Loughton finished with 16 points and two rebounds for the Marlins, while James Mitchell shone with a double-double (14 points, 11 rebounds and three assists) and Deba George (13 points, four assists, two rebounds and two steals) impacted in multiple facets.

Mackay Meteors (95) def. Rockhampton Rockets (81)

Mackay Meteors recorded a 14-point victory over Rockhampton Rockets, running out the stronger side in the second half. The Meteors only lead by two points at the half, but piled on 48-36 in the second half to race away to a 95-81 win. Christopher Cedar (24 points, nine assists and seven rebounds) lead the way with an almost triple-double, while Jerron Jamerson (21 points, three rebounds and two steals), Emmanuel Malou (13 points, nine rebounds) and Matthew Adekponya (12 points, seven rebounds and two steals) also contributed strongly. Kon Anguik (26 points, seven rebounds), Hayden Richardson (17 points) and Najeal Young (15 points, six rebounds, five assists and three steals) were the top Rockets in the loss.

Brisbane Capitals (86) def. Southern Districts Spartans (70)

Brisbane Capitals posted its second consecutive win of the season, putting up a strong effort to knock off Southern Districts Spartans by 16 points at home. The Capitals won three of the four quarters, and whilst they trailed by five points at half-time, won the second half by 21 points to record the 86-70 win. Nicholas Stoddart dominated with 24 points, five rebounds, four assists and three steals, while Timothy Soong (12 points, six rebounds), Ben Wilson (11 points, four rebounds and six assists) and Ben Volkman (10 points, 15 rebounds and three assists) all had big days out. Josh Derksen was the top-scorer for the Spartans with 21 points, three rebounds and three steals, while CJ Massingale (17 points, four rebounds, two assists and two steals) also impressed.

Ipswich Force (72) def. by Cairns Marlins (83)

Cairns Marlins bounced back from a loss the night before to post an 11-point win over Ipswich Force. The Marlins trailed by five points at quarter time, but won the remaining three quarters to get up 83-72 in an impressive victory on the road. Mitchell picked up another double-double of 20 points, 10 rebounds, five steals and four assists, while Loughton equal top-scored with 20 points, two rebounds and two assists. George (15 points, four rebounds, four assists and two steals) was also prominent with Anthony Fisher (13 points, four assists and three rebounds). Ethan Robinson (17 points, three rebounds and three assists), Michael Fleming (16 points) and Cameron Weber (10 points, three rebounds and two assists) were the trio of Force talents to hit double-figure points.

Northside Wizards (86) def. Sunshine Coast Phoenix (83)

Northside Wizards have won a three-point thriller against Sunshine Coast Phoenix, coming from a point down at the final break to win. They lead by one at half-time after trailing by seven at the first break, then trailed at three quarter time before coming home strongly in the final quarter to win, 86-83. Six players recorded double-digit points in the victory, with Jesse Ghee (10 points, 12 assists, seven rebounds and three steals), Aiden Krause (14 points, eight rebounds and two steals) and Logan Kyle (17 points, six rebounds and two assists) all among the best. Jamaal Robateau was a shooting machine for the Phoenix with 34 points, four rebounds, three assists and three steals, while Darnell Robateau (15 points, six assists, four rebounds and four steals), and Oscar Cluff (10 points, nine rebounds, three blocks and two assists) were also strong.

Red City Roar (83) def. South West Metro Pirates (78)

Red City Roar also came away with the narrow win, defeating South West Metro Pirates in a come-from-behind victory. The Roar were slow to start, trailing by 11 points at quarter time, but quickly made up the difference to only trail y a point at the main break. The Pirates extended their lead to two by the final break, before Red City roared home to score 19-12 in the last quarter and win, 83-78. Kobe McDowell-White (24 points, six rebounds, three assists and two steals) and Darryl McDowell-White (22 points, eight assists and seven rebounds) both shone, while Kian Dennis finished with 11 points, 10 rebounds, four assists and three steals in the win. Kai Woodfall was the standout Pirate with 25 points and two steals, while Jakobe Hunter had the 18 points, four rebounds and two assists, and Ramy Kodi managed seven points and 10 rebounds in the loss.

Townsville Heat (103) def. Rockhampton Rockets (73)

The Rockhampton Rockets were on the receiving end of another defeat, this time a hefty 30-point loss to Townsville Heat on the road. Despite winning the final term by eight points, the Rockets were already down 38 points by the final break, suffering the 73-103 away loss. Jalen Patton-Croker had 24 points, 13 rebounds, eight assists and three steals in a dominant effort for the Heat, as Josh Spiers (18 points, five rebounds, two assists and two steals) and Luca Yates (18 points, seven rebounds) also put up some good numbers. Ethan Betts (12 points, eight rebounds, six assists and four steals) and Peter Crawford (12 points, five rebounds, three assists and two steals made it real team effort. For the Rockets, Young had 18 points, 11 rebounds, four assists and three steals to be the clear best for his side, while Ben Wright (15 points, five rebounds, four assist sand two steals) and Jared Blanchard (11 points, seven rebounds) were also prominent.

Logan Thunder (79) def. Ipswich Force (69)

Ipswich Force suffered its third straight defeat of the NBL1 North season, going down to Logan Thunder by 10 points. They trailed by eight at quarter time, and whilst it was tight after that, the Force could not make up the difference and fell, 69-79 on the road. Jeremy Kendle (24 points, nine rebounds and seven assists) lead the way for the Thunder, with impressive efforts from Mitch Young (13 points, 17 rebounds, six blocks, four assists and three steals) in a complete performance, and Michael Cedar (10 points, six rebounds and six assists). For the Force, Manylok Malek had 25 points and 10 rebounds, while Jason Ralph was the other key scorer with 15 points, eight assists and seven rebounds in an almost triple-double effort.

Picture credit: Kieron Place Art and Photography

NBL1 North wrap: Round 1

NBL1 North division kicked off its 2021 season in style over the weekend, as teams return to action after quite a long offseason.

USC Rip City v Sunshine Coast Phoenix

Women:

The Phoenix showed no signs of rust as they took down Rip City by 19 points at USC Sports Stadium on Thursday night. The Phoenix opened the game in style with a 26-point first quarter, with Rip City unable to match the scoring output and the lead was only extended throughout the match. For the victors, Biancia Abbott was dominant with 22 points and 14 rebounds to lead her side to victory, and teammate Kathleen Macleod poured in 18 points and nine assists. For Rip City, Carlie Smith fought hard with 18 points and seven rebounds.

Men:

The Phoenix were dominant as they crushed Rip City by a whopping 42 points on Thursday night. One sided first, third and fourth quarters told the story, as Rip City could not contain their opponents, who were able to get good looks from wherever they pleased. If the Phoenix can maintain this sort of output, they will prove difficult to overcome as the season progresses. For the Phoenix, Nelson Kahler was outstanding with 28 points and 12 rebounds, and combined well with teammate Darnell Robateau who had 24 points of his own. For USC, Isaih Tueta was the only scorer in double digits with 17 points.

Townsville Flames v Mackay Meteorettes/Meteors

Women:

Townsville pulled off an amazing comeback to defeat Mackay by four points at Townsville StarFM Stadium on Friday night. The Flames trailed by 12 points at the main break with plenty to ponder after being convincingly outplayed after two quarters of action. The second half saw the side flick a switch as they found their rhythm on both ends of the court, with Mia Murray’s three pointer late in the final term giving her side a lead they would eventually defend. For Townsville, Stephanie Reid defeated her shooting woes to pour in 18 points which would prove crucial. For Mackay, Cayla George can hold her head high with 17 points and 17 rebounds.

Men:

Townsville held off a fast-finishing Mackay side to take the win by three points in each side’s first outing of the year. The Flames had a 12-point lead at halftime, as the game pointed toward a blowout, but Mackay fought back to make it just a four point game heading into the final term. They even took the lead late in the game, but Townsville did just enough to walk away with the win after a tense clash. For the winners, Jalen Patton-Croker top scored with 17 points, but it truly was a team driven performance. For Mackay, Emmanuel Malou was nearly the match-winner with 28 points in a strong offensive performance.

Brisbane Capitals v Northside Wizards

Women:

A strong final term sealed the result for the Capitals as they defeated the Wizards by 17 points at Auchenflower Stadium on Saturday. The Wizards were within 10 points heading into the fourth quarter with just the slightest sniff of a comeback, but the Capitals put the pedal to the metal in the fourth to claim an important victory in the first round. For the Capitals, Brooke Blair was a beast offensively, finishing with 23 points as the Wizards’ defenders had no answer. For Northside, Georgia Woolley’s 19 points kept her side in the contest.

Men:

The Brisbane Capitals have opened their 2021 account in style, with a dominant 28-point blowout of the Northside Wizards on Saturday. The Capitals blew the game open in the final quarter to send a message to the rest of the competition that they mean business this season. The Capitals outscored their opponents by 27 points in the second half to put the game well out of reach. For the victors, five players scored over 15 points in a remarkably spread-out performance that will surely scare upcoming opponents. For the Capitals, Cameron Thew was the strongest with 23 points and nine rebounds.

Logan Thunder v Red City Roar

Women:

The Logan Thunder were absolutely ruthless in taking down the Red City Roar, eventually triumphing by a whopping 58 points at Bendigo Bank Cornubia Park Sports Centre on Saturday. Outscoring the Roar by 40 points in the first half alone, the Thunder were scarily good with their ability to constantly find ideal looks at a shot, while the Roar shot terribly for the length of the match. For the Thunder, Ashley Taia was the clear star with 35 points and 10 three pointers in one of the most dominant displays of the weekend.

Men:

The Logan Thunder set up their 18-point win with a clinical first quarter as they took down the Roar at Bendigo Bank Cornubia Park Sports Centre on Saturday night. The Thunder worked their way to a 22-point lead at the end of the first quarter, and the game was quite even for the next three quarters, but the Roar were unable to close the massive gap that was set up in the first term. For the Thunder, Jeremy Kendle was outstanding, finishing with a triple-double of 29 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists as the game’s best performer. For the Roar, Darryl Mcdowell-White’s 20 points were crucial in sparking his side’s offensive output.

Cairns Dolphins/Marlins v Mackay Meteorettes/Meteors

Women:

Mackay bounced back from their poor loss to Townsville with an emphatic 42-point victory over the Cairns Dolphins at Early Settler Stadium on Saturday night. Mackay were clinical as they ran over the top of their opponents from the very first bounce, outscoring the Dolphins by 22 in the first term and not looking back from there. For the winners, Chelsea Brook was fantastic, ending the match with 37 points, 11 rebounds and five assists, but just as impressive was teammate Cayla George with 22 points and 20 rebounds. For the Dolphins, Sarah Heard scored 18 points in a promising performance.

Men:

Early Settler Stadium was treated to a thriller on Saturday night, as the Cairns Marlins fell two points short to the Mackay Meteors, who were thrilled to take home their first win of the season following a tough loss to open the year. Meteor Christopher Cedar was the hero, hitting a clutch three pointer with six seconds remaining to give his side the game winning lead in the tense battle. Following a 27-16 first quarter, it looked like the Meteors were going to walk away with an easy win, but the Marlins kept themselves in the contest right up until the final buzzer. For the Meteors, Cedar and Emmanuel Malou combined for 38 points and 22 rebounds as a dynamic duo, while Marlin Anthony Fisher competed strongly all match.

South West Metro Pirates v Southern Districts Spartans

Women:

The Southern Districts Spartans delivered a strong four quarter performance as they took down the South West Metro Pirates to the tune of 29 points at Hibiscus Sports Stadium on Saturday night. The Spartans dominated for the entire game, never giving their opponents a look in at a comeback and will be looking to build on this performance as they resume the 2021 season on the weekend. For the Spartans, Maddison Rocci was fantastic with 17 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists in a performance that proves that she can truly do it all. For the Pirates, Amanda Johnson was inspirational as she fought her way to 30 points and 18 rebounds.

Men:

The final quarter comeback fell just short as the Spartans held off a fast-finishing Pirates side to claim their first win of the season. The Pirates had the highest scoring term in the final quarter but could not get past the final hurdle, falling just six points short of an inspirational victory. For the Spartans, Josh Derksen was impressive to start the season with 22 points and nine rebounds, while Pirate Kai Woodfall was great with 20 points of his own.

Gold Coast Rollers v Ipswich Force

Women:

The Gold Coast Rollers could not have started their season any better, defeating the Ipswich Force by 24 points at Carrara Stadium on Sunday. The Rollers had remarkable first and fourth quarters, outscoring the Force by 38 points in these two terms as they set up an impressive win with plenty to build on in the upcoming rounds. For the Rollers, Lauren Mansfield led the way with an eye-catching 27-point performance. For the Force, Amy Lewis never gave up as she finished the match with 21 points.

Men:

The closest game of the round was saved for last as the Gold Coast Rollers escaped Carrara Stadium with a one-point triumph over the Ipswich Force on Sunday. Gold Coast’s Jaryd Eustace did not shy away from the big moment, hitting a clutch shot from long range to give his side a one-point lead with six seconds remaining. The Force couldn’t answer, and the Rollers emerged victorious in an absolute thriller. Eustace was the clear hero for the Rollers, shaking off his poor shooting performance to deliver the biggest shot of the game. For the Force, Jason Ralph’s 20-point performance were integral in nearly giving his side the win.

Picture credit: Courier Mail

WNBL20 Season Review – Melbourne Boomers

FOR the third consecutive season the Melbourne Boomers have been knocked out of the finals without reaching the big dance, even though head coach Guy Molloy and his formidable side exhibited a ferocious brand of basketball all season long, proving to be one of the WNBL’s toughest opponents. Along with their preliminary final defeat to the Townsville Fire, Melbourne’s title drought extends to a twelfth season.

Commencing season play with a superior 15-point win over their Sydney counterparts, the Sydney Uni Flames, the contest everyone one was waiting eagerly for was the first Melbourne Derby of the campaign between the Boomers and Southside Flyers.

Leading into the derby, Southside had already made a loud announcement to the league with a 42-point drubbing of the Bendigo Spirit in their previous outing, but Melbourne would unleash their season’s biggest weapon – their defence. Holding the Flyers to 72 points, the Boomers ran out with a convincing rout of their cross-town rivals by 17 and led into Round 2 at optimal form.

Melbourne’s undefeated start continued to three games after a hard-earned 62-56 win over the Perth Lynx, but the two-time defending champion Canberra Capitals put the first blemish on the Boomers’ record, thoroughly outperforming their foes by 17 points and holding them to just 50 points. Melbourne’s second round got worse as the Townsville Fire started to pick up numerous successful outcomes, defeating the Boomers 87-75 and weakening Molloy’s record to three wins and two losses.

The Boomers re-established their form in Round 3 with a 40-point win over the Adelaide Lightning, the only game of the week for the purple and gold, as they would relish a weeklong rest before undertaking a four-game Round 4.

To begin the week, Melbourne exacted their revenge on the Capitals (73-67) and cap off the season double over the Flames (86-64). The same could be said for the Spirit, going down to the Boomers by 32 (84-52) meaning that last season’s semi-finalists were one win away from an undefeated four-game week. This time it was not the case however, with Southside redeeming themselves from their early season encounter with the Boomers, edging out their old foes 94-79.

Two expected wins against the Lightning (76-55) and the Spirit (91-70) preceded a season-concluding loss to the Fire (64-70), all but confirming a postseason position, although not in the top-two following their loss to Townsville.

Being one of three teams to finish the season with a record of nine wins and four losses, it represented just how even things were at the top of the standings. Melbourne now had to batten down the hatches and get results given they had not earned a double chance by finishing third.

First up on the finals docket for Melbourne was Canberra, a team they split their two prior meetings with during the regular season. But it was plain and simple for the Boomers – defend, defend, defend, and that is what they did against the reigning premiers. Holding the Capitals to just 68 points, the Boomers ran away 10-point victors, ending the Caps three-peat bid and putting in motion a much-anticipated preliminary final against the Fire.

In a tightly contested clash that lasted all 40 minutes of play, Townsville continued to fend off a resilient Boomers outfit and with Shyla Heal running the show based on her remarkable 28-point performance, Melbourne just could not get ahead of the host-city side, losing out in the final seconds 62-65 and ending their season one win short of their main objective in making the Grand Final.

Once again it was the expected trio of WNBA champion Ezi Magbegor (15.4 points and 8.8 rebounds), Cayla George (14.2 points, 9.5 rebounds and 3.4 assists) and Maddie Garrick (10.5 points and 2.5 assists) that ran the show for Melbourne, however the addition of returning Boomer Tess Madgen (13.6 points, 6.2 assists and 5.4 rebounds) made Molloy’s core unit that much more potent throughout the entire season. But the late-season surge of Ashleigh Karaitiana (6.9 points and 1.8 rebounds) and consistency of Stella Beck (5.3 points and 2.5 assists) added another layer of depth to the WNBL20 roster. Furthermore, New Zealand Tall Fern Kalani Purcell (4.5 points and 3.7 rebounds) was able to add another successful season under her belt.

As a franchise, the Melbourne Boomers have an abundance of motivators amongst their ranks and because of the fact they have to wait another season to have a crack at that WNBL title once again, you can be dead serious that the club’s fire to get there is only burning brighter.

Heal drops 28 as Fire return to Grand Final

THIS season’s WNBL Grand Final will have a home-court advantage, after Townsville Fire squeezed out a three-point victory against the Melbourne Boomers in last night’s preliminary final, 65-62. The Fire have managed a complete flip from a season ago, going from wooden spoon recipients in 2019/20 to now facing the Southside Flyers tomorrow afternoon in what will be a must-see season decider.

Neither of the two teams were able to take command of the prelim in the opening period, but good shooting and some terrific finishing allowed Townsville to hold a solid five-point advantage with Shyla Heal exhibiting some good shooting early on with seven points after one quarter.

Kalani Purcell kicked off the second with her first basket of the contest in a see-sawing affair throughout the first half. But the second term provided little scoring and inconsistent offence with both teams locking down on defence. Winning the second quarter 12-11, Melbourne trimmed the deficit to four points in time for the main break meaning that the contest still hung in the balance.

Early on in the second half, more of Melbourne’s usual producers started to make a difference such as Maddie Garrick, Cayla George and Ashleigh Karaitiana. Guy Molloy’s squad found the majority of their points in the third thanks to Tess Madgen’s ability to facilitate the ball. But the Fire returned serve with a six-point scoring run to give themselves a temporary buffer at an important stage of the game with 10 minutes to go, leading 54-47 at three-quarter time.

The Boomers had a formidable mountain to climb and Heal’s layup to get the fourth going did not help Melbourne’s cause. However, the purple and gold continued to stick around in a game as important last night’s.

Having not made a dent in the margin and actually falling behind by as much as nine points, the Boomers kicked into desperation mode with less than five minutes remaining before coach Molloy deployed his starting five back onto the court to finish the game. The same could be said for Shannon Seebohm with the only exception being Megan McKay because of foul trouble, thus allowing Zitina Aokuso the chance to help close the book.

A layup for Karaitiana, two buckets from Ezi Magbegor and a fast break layup for Garrick, sparked eight unanswered points for the Boomers in their last roll of the dice cutting Townsville’s lead down to just one point. But two made free throws with 21 seconds from none other than Heal put the Fire up by three.

Melbourne’s flurry of threes in the dying moments were not enough to save the contest, meaning Townsville would head to the grand final for the sixth time in nine years, a feeling of success that Townsville’s faithful feared they would not have for the next few years.

Adding to her collection of impressive performances in WNBL20, Heal finished her night with 28 points, five rebounds and three assists, while fellow backcourter Lauren Nicholson played a full 40-minute game compiling 12 points and eight rebounds. Adding to this was Aokuso, accumulating 10 points and five rebounds, as well as WNBL legend Mia Murray providing a much-needed presence on the glass with eight boards.

Melbourne’s frontcourt was its primary producer last night, with Magbegor (19 points and nine rebounds) and George (15 points, 10 rebounds and five assists) putting up impressive statistics. Furthermore, despite no other Boomers gaining double-digit totals Madgen was instrumental yesterday even though the side could not get it done with nine points and six assists.

It is the end of Melbourne’s remarkable road, but Townsville’s triumph provides a first versus second seed grand final and a chance for the Fire to redeem themselves at the best possible moment. Even though the Flyers have two days of extra rest going into tomorrow, you can rest assured that the Townsville fans will provide their club with a massive chunk of adrenaline in 24 hours.

WNBL Season Review – Sydney Uni Flames

ONE of the biggest improvers following on from last season was without a doubt the Sydney Uni Flames, despite moving up just one spot in the WNBL standings after placing fifth overall in North Queensland with five victories in their 13 contests.

Winning just one third of their outings in 2019/20 (seven wins, 14 losses), Katrina Hibbert and her side fell just a win and a half behind a .500 record after a major face-lift during the free agency period.

New additions to the Flames like Lauren Mansfield and Alison Schwagmeyer who both arrived from the Perth Lynx, and former Southside Flyer Anneli Maley, made tremendous contributions to their new team in WNBL20 in bunches, making Hibbert’s job a little easier in the process.

After a valiant effort in their season opener against the Melbourne Boomers, the Flames would begin their season on a loss going down by 15 points. But a bounce back trouncing against this season’s wooden spooners the Bendigo Spirit, quickly brought back confidence into the Sydney Uni locker room before closing the books on Round 1.

Sizing up the Flyers in their third contest of the fixture, like many, Sydney Uni found out just how good Southside’s outfit really was. Eventually going down 72-99 to this season’s championship-favourites, the Flames would have a losing record after the opening sequence of matchups with no easy matchups ahead in Round 2.

In an expectedly hard second round of games against the Townsville Fire and the Canberra Capitals where they both bested the Flames unit, Sydney Uni’s by-line fell to one win and four defeats, signalling a need for some urgent results for coach Hibbert’s side before the season started to get away from them.

Round 3 provided slightly better outcomes, with the Flames scraping away with one win out of three clashes knocking over the Perth Lynx 74-67 to obtain their second victory of the campaign. But similar to their final record from last season, Sydney Uni were on track for another season with a .333 win percentage with six losses to their name after three weeks of play.

A second win against the Spirit would trade off another loss to the Boomers in the penultimate round of the season, meaning that the Flames would fall out of finals contention. This fact was unfortunate given the final week of the season that Sydney Uni had.

With victories to end their season against the Lynx and the Adelaide Lightning in Round 5, the Flames were able to steal the fifth seed away from the latter on points percentage, providing evidence that Sydney Uni’s season held an abundance of good fortune as well as promising signs heading into 2021.

Point guard and one of two Lynx players to be traded to the NSW-based team, Mansfield adjusted to her new team almost seamlessly based on the 2020 season she had. Averaging 14 points per game and 4.5 assists in 31.9 minutes each game, Mansfield led the side in all three of these categories, putting her in good stead for a contract extension for WNBL21. The second of the two Perth signatures acquired in the offseason, Schwagmeyer was a pivotal part of the Flames rotation with 13.3 points, 5.7 rebounds and 2.9 assists being her averages during the five weeks of the regular season. Nevertheless, easily the most visible improvement was the dominance on the glass by 22-year-old Maley. Leading the WNBL in rebounding, Maley averaged a whopping 12.1 boards per game, almost three more per game than the next highest rebounder (Cayla George – 9.4), while also averaging 7.9 points as well.

Falling one spot out of the postseason this time around, it is obvious what the club’s ultimate objective will be for next season. Bearing this in mind as well as the fact that the franchise has not made the finals since the 2017/18 campaign, Sydney Uni would consider anything less than a top-four finish next season a failure in their eyes.