Tag: chelsea brook

WNBL Free Agency Update: Flyers and Lightning

ALTHOUGH they did not finish the way the would have liked, the Southside Flyers and Adelaide Lightning are two teams that had impressive WNBL20 campaigns, making it to the playoffs. While both the Flyers and the Lightning had countless highlights during the regular season, the Lightning were handed a series sweep knocked out of the postseason early. For Southside, it was a picture-perfect season leading up to the Grand Final series, finishing with a season-best record (17-4) in their inaugural campaign under the Flyers moniker, whereas the Lightning would round out a solid top-four group, with a 12-9 record of their own. Southside knocked over Adelaide in the semis, which was then for the Flyers followed up by an untimely exit thanks to the UC Capitals in the penultimate series.

SOUTHSIDE FLYERS

The Southside Flyers organisation has made less announcements in comparison to the seven other sides regarding their WNBL21 team, but it is evident what their initial intentions have been over the last couple of months.

For Cheryl Chambers and her staff, their initial moves were to consolidate their marquee players, which kicked off in early June when they re-signed their captain and Opals selectee Jenna O’Hea. O’Hea underwent an agonisingly frustrating 2020 season after breaking her wrist on January 12 against the Melbourne Boomers. Thankfully for O’Hea, she made her return to the side just in time for their Grand Final series against the Capitals, despite the Flyers going down in two games. She will look forward to leading the side for at least another season.

Up next on the Flyers “to-get” list, was 28-year-old Rebecca Cole. Cole averaged an elite-level season and was instrumental in the Flyers’ starting five acting as an essential member in getting Southside to the postseason. Averaging 17.3 points per game, four assists and 3.6 rebounds, Cole wreaked havoc on opposition defences throughout 25 games last season and will look to do it again for the Flyers’ second season. The third of Southside’s five signings to this point is forward Sara Blicavs. Blicavs has become one of the most prominent two-way players in the WNBL to this day, and this was further compounded after a solid campaign last season. With the 27-year-old averaging 13.4 points, seven rebounds and 1.3 steals per contest, it does not surprise many that Southside would look to her services for another season.

Stepping into some big shoes after the injury of O’Hea in the later stages of last season, Aimie Clydesdale proved what she was worth to the side, culminating in an 18-point performance in Game 2 of their semi-final series with the Lightning. The Flyers have added her to their roster for next season and will look to give her extended minutes as her development continues.

However, Southside saved their big announcement for their fifth addition to the team. On August 18 they revealed that Australian basketball legend, Liz Cambage, was returning to the WNBL for the first time in three years. A major factor in this was the restrictions that the COVID-19 pandemic has placed on the league, as the Flyers are no longer able to reinstate rebounding machine Mercedes Russell as an import for next season. Cambage, who was a member of the Dandenong Rangers back in 2007, will have feelings of nostalgia as she returns to the suburb where it all began.

With more than half of the team yet to be announced, there could be an influx of young and developing talent to join the ranks for the upcoming season in November, as the senior members of the squad have committed to the Flyers for hopefully another championship push.

Contracted:

Nil

Re-signed:

Jenna O’Hea
Rebecca Cole
Sara Blicavs
Aimie Clydesdale

Signed:

Elizabeth Cambage

 

ADELAIDE LIGHTNING

To round out the Free Agency updates for last season’s finals participants, we look at the Adelaide Lightning, as they look to move past the semi-finals next season.

After losing star international Brianna Turner due to import restrictions, Adelaide made up for that in another WNBA prospect, one who is more familiar with the land down-under. Touted by the franchise as the biggest signing in the Lightning’s history since Suzy Batkovic a decade ago, the acquisition of Phoenix Mercury power forward Alanna Smith has many of Adelaide’s faithful shaking with excitement. Earning regular appearances in this season’s WNBA and completing a successful four-year career at Stanford University, not much gets away from Smith if history shows anything.

Head coach Chris Lucas now needed to form the rest of his squad around their new marquee signing, and he would not need to look too far to begin this. Jasmin Fejo, a member of the NBL1’s Adelaide Bearcats joined contracted players Chelsea Brook and Steph Talbot as a part of the Adelaide Lightning in late-June. Fejo garnered state-wide attention after a phenomenal 2019 season in the South Australia Premier League, particularly after a 40-point performance against the South Adelaide Panthers in that same season. After the strong stint, she was rewarded the Merv Harris medal for being the best player under the age of 21 and was named to the competition’s All-Star Five after averaging 15.6 points and shooting at a clip of 42.7 per cent.

The two most recent procurements for Adelaide was South Australian-born Boston College alum, Taylor Ortlepp, who signed a two-year deal with the club at the start of July, and 26-year-old Perth Lynx utility player Marena Whittle who averaged over 10.3 points, 4.8 rebounds per game, while shooting at a rate of 43.6 per cent behind the arc last season.

With the announcement of recently retired Nat Hurst to become the Lightning’s assistant coach and further additions to be revealed to the team in the near future for WNBL21, championship contenders will have no choice but to take Adelaide seriously, when they square off with the side.

Contracted:

Chelsea Brook
Steph Talbot

Re-signed:

Nil

Signed:

Alanna Smith
Jasmin Fejo
Taylor Ortlepp
Marena Whittle

NBL1 South Women’s team summary: Eltham Wildcats

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

2019 in Review:

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

What went right:

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

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

What went wrong:

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

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

Top Players:

Chelsie Schweers

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

Chelsea Brook

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

Megan Mulligan

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

Young Gun:

Abbey Ellis

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

Christmas list for 2021:

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

Summary:

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

2019/20 WNBL season review: Adelaide Lightning 

LED by veteran coach Chris Lucas, Adelaide Lightning fell agonisingly short of the big dance, going down by three points to the Southside Flyers in both semi-finals. The Lightning made their case well and truly known in season 2019/20 with some hard fought wins to set them up for a finals berth, but in the end they lacked that final piece of the puzzle to get them over the line.

Ladder: 4th
Win-loss: 12-9

The Lightning made noise early in the offseason, acquiring Stephanie Talbot, a quintessential weapon stripped off the Melbourne Boomers. To accompany Talbot, the Lightning added Crystal Langhorne to the roster who was arguably the most talked about signing felt around the entire league. Fresh off winning a championship in the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA), the two-time WNBA all star matched the expectations in her first game. Scoring 20 points and grabbing 13 rebounds, while shooting 100 per cent from three-point range. Knee soreness plagued the rest of her season with doctors ruling her out after confirming she aggravated a pre-existing knee injury and would not return for the season forcing Adelaide to dig deep without her. 

Brianna Turner did her best to pick up the slack, leading the team with 16.8 points a game while averaging 10.7 rebounds, second to only Kelsey Griffin of the Capitals (excluding Langhorne). Behind Turner for the Lightning followed Lauren Nicholson with 14.2, Talbot with 13.8 and Nicole Seekamp with 11 points a game. Everyone lifted their load to make up ground Langhorne had left, and they surprisingly were doing just that, winning three of the first four games. A big reason for the teams immediate sense of harmony was because of Seekamp, who was at the top of her game, dishing eight assists a night; a league high. However she was also quite costly with ball in hand, leading the league in turnovers, with 4.2 a game.  Another reason for their post-Langhorne success was the crafty dynamism of Seekamp and Nicholson. One of the most famous pairs in the WNBL, captain Seekamp called their recognised connection “telepathy”, and this season was no different. The duo did a great job leading and pushing the team all the way to the playoffs, but unfortunately what they did on offence did not make up for the team’s shortcomings on defence. Lightning were ranked in the bottom three for steals, which unfortunately did not bode well for playoffs unable to generate enough turnover ball.  

The Lightning also signed Natalie Hurst and Laura Hodges, two 36-year-old veterans to act as role models for the younger players. Their influence was handy for young players like Sarah Elsworthy, Chelsea Brook and even Turner helping to set the tone and standard for the team. But even on the court their significance this season cannot be downplayed. Hurst and Hodges were spectacular late in games in more ways than people notice or at least give credit for. They were never raddled, they knew the right play, and they knew what to say to the younger players to get the best out of them. These are the things a team can only obtain from experienced players. Missing out on that championship banner by the margin they did was painful, but the way this team never stopped fighting after losing what was supposedly their best player in the opening round is commendable. This season should not be looked down upon by Lightning fans. 

WNBL Semi-final 1 review: Southside escapes slow start to run out three-point winners in Dandenong

MINOR premiers, Southside Flyers are a win away from a 2019/20 Women’s National Basketball League (WNBL) Grand Final place after downing Adelaide Lightning by three points at Dandenong Stadium last night. Given Southside’s strength at its home court and Adelaide’s less-than-ideal road record, the Flyers were heavily fancied to move through to the season decider without too much fuss.

Unfortunately for the home fans, the visiting team was not on board with the script and came out all-guns blazing in the first term, piling on 25 points to 17 to race out to an eight-point lead at the first break. The Flyers made inroads back into the contest in the second term with a 17-14 quarter and drew within five at half-time. Needing a special effort in the second half, the Southside team that everyone had come to know returned to the court, powering its way to a massive 22-7 term, restricting the Lightning in every way possible to go from a five-point deficit to a huge 10-point lead at the final break. Adelaide was determined not to give up however, as the Lightning hit back in the final term, drawing within five points midway through the term, but the firepower of the premiership favourites gave the home team some breathing space. Leading by 10 points with less than four minutes on the clock, the Flyers looked home and hosed, but one last effort from the visitors resulted in them scoring eight of the last nine points to get within three, but ultimately fall short, 68-65.

Center, Mercedes Russell again stood tall for the Flyers, having a ridiculous game of 20 points and 19 rebounds, with an even spread of 11 defensive and eight offensive, while also picking up three assists and a steal in a clear best-on-court performance. She was not alone however, as Leilani Mitchell – who shot a crucial three midway through the final term to draw within five points – finished with 15 points, four assists, two rebounds and a steal. Rebecca Cole also reached double-figure points with 13, as well as six rebounds, four assists and four steals in a real team effort. Elsewhere, Anneli Maley‘s effort of the bench was strong, only recording four points, but having seven rebounds, a steal and block on the night. Sara Blicavs had a quieter night with nine points, but had five rebounds, two steals and an assist.

For the Lightning, Lauren Nicholson stepped up as one would expect from a player with her experience, finishing with 14 points and seven rebounds, while Stephanie Talbot (13 points, nine rebounds, six assists and three steals) was unsurprisingly Adelaide’s best, as Brianna Turner (11 points, nine rebounds, five blocks and two assists) was also strong. In terms of scoring, the other player of note was Chelsea Brook coming off the bench to contribute 11 points, four rebounds, an assist and a steal, while Nicole Seekamp had four points, but five rebounds and five assists.

With Southside holding a 1-0 lead in the three-game series, Adelaide will try and force a deciding third game if the Lightning can get up at home when the teams face off at Titanium Security Arena on Saturday night from 7pm.

WNBL Round 14 review: Capitals make stand with top two scalps

IN what could well be a memorable round in hindsight come the Women’s National Basketball League (WNBL) finals series next month, the University of Canberra (UC) Capitals have made a stand by knocking off the top two sides. The now-fourth placed Capitals, along with the former-third placed Adelaide Lightning who also had a huge win, showed they are not making up the numbers and would be pushing for a top two spot in the final two rounds.

UC Capitals (76) defeated Melbourne Boomers (75)

The third last round of the WNBL could not have opened with a better game after two genuine title contenders went toe-to-toe until the reigning premiers emerged victorious following a one-point overtime thriller. The UC Capitals had to fight hard against Melbourne Boomers to keep their top two chances alive, sinking the Boomers in the first overtime by a point in what had been a see-sawing match to that point. The Capitals led by six points at quarter time, but the Boomers clawed their way back after that, reducing the margin to five by half-time, and then one by the final break before levelling the scores at the last buzzer. Despite the momentum of the past three quarters being with Melbourne, it was UC that stepped up and won thanks to a basket from an injured Keely Froling with great defence stopping the Boomers in the dying seconds of the match during the 76-75 Capitals’ win. Despite having a broken nose and cheek which was confirmed after the match following a collision with Sophie Cunningham in the fourth term, Froling played out the game posting 12 points, nine rebounds and two assists. She ably assisted the damaging duo of Kia Nurse (23 points, seven rebounds) and Marianna Tolo (22 points, nine rebounds), while Olivia Epoupa picked up eight points 16 rebounds, seven assists and six steals in a ridiculous effort from the French guard. For the Boomers, Cunningham reached a team-high 22 points, while Stella Beck (17 points, four rebounds) and Ezi Magbegor (14 points, four rebounds) were busy, as was Cayla George (eight points, eight rebounds, two assists and two blocks). Unfortunately for Froling, she will miss at least three weeks of action, bringing her up to the start of the WNBL finals series.

DC Medal: 3 – Olivia Epoupa (UC), 2 – Marianna Tolo (UC), 1 – Kia Nurse (UC)

Adelaide Lightning (77) defeated Townsville Fire (60)

Over in Adelaide, the Lightning consolidated their third spot with an important 17-point win over bottom two side, Townsville Fire. It was a shared effort by the Lightning who burst away after an even first term. Neither team could be split at quarter time, but it was all Adelaide after that as the Lightning piled on 18 points to 11 in the second term and extended that lead to 14 by the final break. They did not stop there, winning the last term 16-13 to run out 77-60 victors in front of their home fans at Titanium Security Arena. Adelaide’s forward duo of Stephanie Talbot (16 points, 10 rebounds, three assists and three blocks) and Brianna Turner (15 points, nine rebounds, three assists and two blocks) again led the way as all starting five members reached double-figure points on the night. Lauren Nicholson (14 points, seven rebounds), Nicole Seekamp (12 points, four rebounds and nine assists) and Kathryn Westbeld (10 points, five rebounds) all provided presences off the boards, as Chelsea Brook got in on the action with eight points of her own off the bench. It was not as evenly spread for the Fire, with Tess Madgen leading the way thanks to 19 points, seven rebounds and four assists, while Darcee Garbin (16 points, 10 rebounds and two blocks) picked up a double-double after her work rebounding the baskets. Julie Vanloo reached double-figure points with 10, as well as two rebounds and three assists, while Bridget Carleton (six points, six rebounds) and Christina Boag (eight points, six rebounds) tried hard.

DC Medal: 3 – Stephanie Talbot (AD), 2 – Brianna Turner (AD), 1 – Tess Madgen (TF)

Sydney Uni Flames (62) defeated by Melbourne Boomers (76)

Melbourne bounced back from their heartbreaking one-point loss at the hands of the Capitals to rebound with a 14-point win on the road against Sydney Uni Flames on Saturday night. The Boomers got off to an ideal start in the match, leading by three points at quarter time and then extending the lead out to seven by the main break. Sydney Uni managed to stem the bleeding in the third stanza, but the visitors went all out in the last term, piling on 15 points to eight to run away with the contest, 76-62. Magbegor led from the front with a game-high 25 points, five rebounds and four assists, while George (14 points, eight rebounds, five assists and two steals) and Madeleine Garrick (13 points, four rebounds, seven assists and four steals) picked up some big numbers across the board. Coming off the bench, Monique Conti was busy with six points and four assists in a playmaking role, while Beck also reached double-figure points with 10, accompanying her two rebounds and two blocks. For the Flames, Brittany Smart showed her talent off the bench posting a team-high 18 points as well as three rebounds, while Lauren Scherf‘s dazzling form continued with a double-double of 14 points, 11 rebounds, three assists, three steals and two blocks in a huge effort despite the loss. They were the only two players to reach double-figure points as Jessica Kuster (six points, nine rebounds) and Alex Wilson (five points, six assists) both had inaccurate games on the scoring front but worked tirelessly.

DC Medal: 3 – Ezi Magbegor (MB), 2 – Cayla George (MB), 1 – Lauren Scher (SU)

Bendigo Spirit (76) defeated by Southside Flyers (91)

Southside Flyers’ remarkable season continued with a 15-point win over cellar dwellers Bendigo Spirit on the road. Heading into the match these teams were at opposite ends of the ladder and it showed in the first three quarters as the Spirit could not quell the fired-up Flyers. Southside burst out of the blocks to add 24-15 in the first term, and by half-time the margin was a whopping 16 points, The trend continued into the third with a 24-17 term to open up a 23-point advantage before Bendigo gave its home fans something to smile about with a solid final term to cut the deficit back to 15 but fell short 76-91. Rebecca Cole led the way for the Flyers with 22 points, five rebounds and five assists, while Mercedes Russell‘s double-double season continued with 13 points, 12 rebounds and two assists on the night. Also racking up plenty of points were Leilani Mitchell (19 points, three rebounds, four assists and two blocks) and Sara Blicavs (18 points, eight rebounds and two assists) in a strong starting five effort. Coming off the bench, Kiera Rowe was efficient with eight points at 75 per cent from the field. For the Spirit, Tessa Lavey was the dominant points-scorer with 20, as well as three rebounds, three assists and two steals, while Carley Ernst (15 points, five rebounds, two assists and two blocks), and Abigail Wehrung coming off the bench (15 points, six rebounds) were also strong. After a big point-scoring effort last round, Shyla Heal only managed the four, but picked up a team-high eight rebounds on the night.

DC Medal: 3 – Rebecca Cole (SF), 2 – Mercedes Russell (SF), 1 – Sara Blicavs (SF)

Perth Lynx (95) defeated Townsville Fire (62)

Finals might be out of the question for last year’s fourth placed side, but it did not stop the Perth Lynx making a huge statement at the Bendat Basketball Centre on Sunday evening. The Lynx smashed fellow bottom four side, Townsville Fire on the way to a 33-point shellacking in front of home fans, winning three of the four quarters and putting in one of the most dominant 10-minute terms all season. The Lynx led by six points at quarter time and were out to a 13-point lead at the main break. Townsville reeled the home team back in by three to cut the deficit to 10 at the last change before Perth put the foot down in a one-sided affair seeing them slam home 37 points to 14 and blow the game out of the water in a massive 95-62 win. Alison Schwagmeyer came off the bench to lead the way for the winners, posting 21 points and four rebounds, while Marena Whittle (17 points, four rebounds and two assists) also provided great cover when injected into the game. Katie-Rae Ebzery was the Lynx’s best, picking up figures of 17 points, eight rebounds and two assists, while Lauren Mansfield (14 points, five rebounds, three assists and three steals) and Nadeen Payne (10 points, six rebounds) also picked up double-figure points. For the Fire, it was Garbin who picked up the points, registering 19 points and five rebounds on the night, while Carleton had a double-double of 12 points and 12 rebounds, and Madgen had 10 points, five rebounds and two assists.

DC Medal: 3 – Katie-Rae Ebzery (PL), 2 – Alison Schwagmeyer (PL), 1 – Marena Whittle (PL)

Southside Flyers (74) defeated by UC Capitals (98)

The Perth-Townsville game was not the only statement made by a WNBL team on Sunday night, with reigning premiers UC Capitals making sure the competition had not forgotten about what they were capable of in season 2019/20. Despite missing both Kelsey Griffin and Keely Froling to injury, the Capitals banded together and produced a remarkable performance on the road against the premier team of the competition this season. They made their intentions clear from the get-go with a 30-20 opening term and by half-time, the home crowd was silenced as the Capitals led by a whopping 18 points. While many would have forgiven them for not running out the game given the extra rotations for youth, the Capitals stepped it up, scoring a further 21-14 in the third term to lead by as much as 25 at the final break before Southside managed to get some respect back with a 20-19 final term in what was a horror showing, going down 74-98. Nurse was unbelievable posting a round-high 33 points to go with three rebounds and three assists, while Epoupa (15 points, 13 rebounds, eight assists and two steals) and Tolo (13 points, 12 rebounds, six assists, two steals and two blocks) both picked up double-doubles. Maddison Rocci thrived with season-high points of 19, as well as three rebounds and two steals, while Alex Delaney also impressed with 13 points and two rebounds. For the Flyers, Russell had a strong game of 18 points and 10 rebounds, while Blicavs had another good performance of 10 points and eight rebounds. Mitchell (14 points, five assists) was the other prominent scorer for the losing side.

DC Medal: 3 – Kia Nurse (UC), 2 – Olivia Epoupa (UC), 1 – Marianna Tolo (UC)

DC Medal Leaderboard:

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

2019/20 WNBL preview: Round 12 – Finals race set to narrow

IT is make or break time in the Women’s National Basketball League (WNBL) this round, with finals well and truly on the line. If the results go the way as planned, there could be as much as a four-game gap between fourth and fifth making it incredibly difficult for the sides outside the finals spots to force their way into the top four.

PERTH LYNX vs. SOUTHSIDE FLYERS
Friday, January 3, 6.30pm
Bendat Basketball Centre

In one of three Friday night games, a well-rested Southside Flyers returns to WNBL action against a Perth Lynx side that has been steadily improving after a mid-season slump. The Lynx have hardly made Bendat Basketball Centre a fortress this year, but remain stronger at home than on the road which is where their troubles have come from. The Flyers are coming off a rare loss, going down to Sydney Uni Flames back on December 21, which was their last game prior to the Round 12 clash. They are sitting pretty on top of the table, two games clear, and after missing a couple of key players in that game, will be keen to bounce back with an important win here. These teams have played twice so far this season, with Southside getting up at home both times, including in Perth with an 82-68 triumph back on November 29. Alison Schwagmeyer has been a force this season off the boards for the Lynx, leading their points scoring with 16 per game in 2019/20. Katie-Rae Ebzery and Lauren Mansfield have also provided plenty with their movement across the court despite both being sub-180cm. Mercedes Russell missed the last game for the Flyers, but has been superb this year, averaging just about a double-double when it comes to points (16.1) and rebounds (9.9), to be the standout center in the competition. Jenna O’Hea also missed the last game, with the Opals star another standout player this year for the top-of-the-table side. Southside head into this contest as strong favourites, but you can never discount the Lynx.

TOWNSVILLE FIRE vs. ADELAIDE LIGHTNING
Friday, January 3, 7.00pm
Townsville Stadium

With a line now all but put through their name for season 2019/20, Townsville Fire host their first game of 2020 on Friday night in a bid to try and wreck the Lightning’s chances of making finals. The Fire have slipped to three consecutive losses, including a disappointing one-point loss to Bendigo Spirit which all but ended their hopes of making finals this season. Five games adrift of the fourth placed Lightning makes it difficult given the time remaining in the season, but there is still plenty to play for in the last month. For Adelaide, it is much higher stakes, needing a win to retain the breathing space ahead of Sydney Uni and Perth who have both been sniffing around for that all-important top four position. The last time these two teams met was back in October, when Adelaide triumphed up in Townsville with an 86-68 victory. The Lightning will be hoping for much of the same in this clash, having won just one of the three encounters from the 2018/19 WNBL season. The two standouts for the Lightning are Stephanie Talbot and Brianna Turner. Talbot is averaging more than 16 points and eight rebounds per game, whilst getting close to a couple of steals and more than a block per game in a strong all-round effort. Turner on the other hand is a rebounding machine, averaging a double-double of points and rebounds, whilst providing a great defensive option close to the defensive basket, blocking opponents’ shots almost twice per game. For the Fire, Abby Bishop has had an outstanding season, and while her game last round was quiet by her standards, she still averages a team-high 15.9 points, 7.8 rebounds and 2.2 steals per game. Darcee Garbin (13.4 points, 6.4 rebounds and 1.1 steals) and Tess Madgen (12.1 points, 5.9 rebounds and 3.7 assists) are handy contributors, while Bridget Carleton picked up a double-double last round and averages 11.5 points and 5.7 rebounds per game following her 19 and 12 respectively last round. Adelaide should get the win here, as the Lightning have a good record in Townsville, though the Fire would love to cause a few headaches for the visitors.

BENDIGO SPIRIT vs. UC CAPITALS
Friday, January 3, 7.00pm
Bendigo Stadium

In the third and final game of the Friday night trio, reigning premiers UC Capitals travel to Bendigo to take on the last placed Spirit. Whilst finals is out of reach for the potential wooden spooners, last round was a positive when the Spirit snapped a nine-game losing streak to down Townsville Fire. The Capitals have been able to make the best of an absence of Kelsey Griffin who is currently out due to an ankle injury. Last round’s win against Perth Lynx showed the Capitals have the depth to match it with anyone, as Olivia Epoupa, Marianna Tolo and Keely Froling all picked up double doubles. These sides have played twice in the past month, with the Capitals naturally getting up both times given the Spirit’s form of late. The wins were by 25 and 10 points respectively, though the Spirit will hope to ride on last week’s performance and put in a much better effort at home than the December 6 drubbing. The Spirit have three players averaging more than 10 points per game this year, with Carley Ernst leading the way with 11.4 as well as 6.5 rebounds. Demi Skinner (10.6 points, 3.3 rebounds) and Abigail Wehrung (10.3 points, 2.4 rebounds) have been busy this season, while Kelly Wilson (9.3 points, 5.6 assists, 4.1 rebounds and 1.4 steals) has been a balanced contributor. Coming off an important confidence-boosting win at home last week, the Spirit have had all three of their wins in Bendigo, with a 3-5 record there. The Capitals have been a little more shaky on the road with a 4-3 record, but should get the job done against the bottom side. Given what is on the line, being level with the Boomers in second spot, it is crucial for the Capitals to make up the 32-point differential between them and the second placed Melbourne to try and push their way into the top two.

ADELAIDE LIGHTNING vs. SOUTHSIDE FLYERS
Sunday, January 5, 1.00pm
Titanium Security Arena

Playing their second game of the round and back-to-back games on the road, Southside Flyers head to Adelaide where they take on Adelaide Lightning at Titanium Security Arena on Sunday afternoon. The Lightning crucially held onto their top four spot last round, triumphing in style over reigning premiers, UC Capitals, and would love nothing more than a win against Southside Flyers here. These two teams have faced in South Australia this season already, with the Flyers getting up 91-85 back on December 1. After such a long break between games, it will be interesting to see how Southside pulls up in a second match two days after the first. Adelaide also plays its second game of the round, and will have more travelling to do, heading home from Townsville after the Friday night match, but will at least be at home for the match. Along with Talbot and Turner who have been the two standouts this year, Lauren Nicholson and Nicole Seekamp have shared in more than 25 points, six rebounds and nine assists between them. They are among a starting five that all average a steal per game, while Chelsea Brook has shown she is capable of putting up solid numbers when called upon to do so. The Flyers might have missed two of their top stars back in Round 10, but the likes of Rebecca Cole, Leilani Mitchell and Sara Blicavs ensures the league’s newest rebranded side has no problem with depth. Anneli Maley might not have a lot of points to her name, but she provides good rebounding depth off the bench and will be one who continues to be an option coming onto the court throughout games. The Flyers can almost secure top spot, and one would think a top two spot, with back-to-back victories in this round.

UC CAPITALS vs. PERTH LYNX
Sunday, January 5, 2.00pm
AIS Arena

Two sides who go at it for a second time in Round 12 are the UC Capitals and Perth Lynx who head to Canberra to face-off at AIS Arena from 2pm on Sunday. The Capitals return from Bendigo to host the clash, while the Perth cross to the eastern seaboard after a home game on Friday night. Depending on the Capitals’ result against Bendigo – which in fairness to the Spirit is expected to be a win against the bottom side – UC could well go outright second with a second victory here. The Boomers play a few hours later against the Flames in a day that if both sides win, the finals race is just about decided. Given the Capitals’ 6-1 record at home and Perth’s 2-5 record on the road, it is clear to see which team is favourite heading into this clash. Also taking into account the fact the Capitals knocked off the Lynx by a comfortable 17 points in the last outing just a week earlier – in Perth – showed they have the form and confidence to knock over the sixth placed side. There are a lot of permutations this round, but if Adelaide Lightning get the win over Townsville as expected and the Lynx lose both games, it would mean the Lynx must chase down a five-game deficit outside the top four with just four rounds remaining. It will be the third time these teams have faced off with the 17-point win to UC actually the lesser of the two victories from the reigning premiers in this head-to-head. The Capitals also won by 18 points in Canberra back in November. While the double-double trio caught headlines last round for the Capitals, you cannot forget the impact Kia Nurse has each and every week, averaging a handy 20.3 points, 4.1 rebounds, 2.9 assists and 1.1 steals per game. The other starter is Maddison Rocci who has been flying under the radar with more than seven points and almost three assists per game. Add in Gemma Potter who has received court time every game to average almost three points and a rebound per game, and the Capitals have some youth coming through the ranks. Perth would hope to piece together a much better performance this week against the Capitals and along with Schwagmeyer and Ebzery, they need more consistency standing up each week. Imani McGee-Stafford and Ariel Atkins are a couple of American imports who show signs of breaking games open and the former is averaging 10.6 points and 8.4 rebounds, while the latter is 9.8 and 4.6 respectively. With Mansfield and Nadeen Payne also putting up solid numbers and Marena Whittle coming off the bench, the Lynx have the talent, they just need to build greater consistency, particularly on the road. This will be a tough game to win but give them a world of confidence if they can pull it off.

SYDNEY UNI FLAMES vs. MELBOURNE BOOMERS
Sunday, January 5, 5.00pm
Brydens Stadium

In a game that will likely have some big ramifications for the finals race, fifth placed Sydney Uni Flames take on top two side, Melbourne Boomers. With the UC Capitals having the luxury of already having played two games prior to this tip-off, the Boomers could find themselves fighting for second spot in this game. The Flames have shown they are capable of knocking off some serious talent, taking down the Flyers in Round 10, but will still be hurting from the loss of Colleen Planeta for the season. The Boomers will have an eye on the WNBL finals considering their season, and with their depth will be favourites in this one. These sides have only played once thus far this season, with the Boomers getting up by 13 points at home. They have not played in Sydney since October 21, 2018, where the visiting side also got the chocolates on that day in an 87-75 triumph. Neither of these sides have played earlier in the round, so earn a nice break heading into this final game of Round 12. Alice Kunek is the Flames’ leading points scorer, and will share the load left by Planeta with Jessica Kuster and Alex Wilson who both average double-figure points. Lauren Scherf is an underrated player coming off the bench with seven points and eight rebounds per game, and could be the one who stands up and consolidates her starting spot with Tahlia Tupaea rounding out the five. The Boomers also have plenty of firepower across the court with Lindsay Allen and Cayla George averaging more than 30 points, 11 rebounds, eight assists and three steals between them. Sophie Cunningham, Ezi Magbegor and Madeleine Garrick are the other three regular starts, all of whom average double-figure points. Last round was the first time the Boomers had a different starting five, with Cunningham absent, and Antonia Farnworth stepping up to play that role. Expect Melbourne to go all-out to try and hold onto second spot, but Sydney Uni will be keen to cause yet another upset.

WNBL Round 11 review: Spirit snaps nine-game losing streak

IT was a massive round of Women’s National Basketball League (WNBL) action, with Bendigo Spirit snapping a nine-game losing streak to draw level with Townsville Fire in the bottom two spots, while the top four seems almost done and dusted with a two and a half-game gap between fourth and fifth.

Adelaide Lightning (78) defeated UC Capitals (68)

It took until overtime, but Adelaide Lightning managed to get the job done at home against the reigning premiers, University of Canberra (UC) Capitals by 10 points. The Lightning proved to be a crowd-pleaser in Adelaide, desperately needing a win to retain fourth spot with the likes of Sydney Uni Flames and Perth Lynx edging closer, while the Capitals had to claim victory in order to temporarily take second spot. It was the Capitals who started the stronger of the sides, piling on 21 points to 16 in the first term, then led by seven at half-time to look pretty solid at the main break. But the third term out of nowhere saw the Lightning take back the momentum and completely dominate the play, sinking 17 points to nine to remarkably lead at the final break, albeit by a solitary point. A high scoring final term resulted in the Capitals drawing level by the end of regular time, but the momentum was with the Lightning who shot 17 points to seven in the overtime to run out as comfortable winners as an overtime victory goes. Stephanie Talbot led the charge for the home side with a massive 21 points, 16 rebounds, four assists, two steals and two blocks, teaming well off the boards with partner-in-crime, Brianna Turner (11 points, 14 rebounds, two blocks and one steal). Lauren Nicholson (15 points, two rebounds and two steals) and Nicole Seekamp (seven points, seven rebounds and nine assists) provided good support, while Chelsea Brook showed how bright of a future she has with 14 points and four rebounds off the bench. The Capitals had a couple of standouts in the absence of Kelsey Griffin, with Marianna Tolo starring thanks to 22 points, 12 rebounds, two assists, two steals and two blocks, while Kia Nurse sank 16 points, and had five rebounds, five assists and three steals. Olivia Epoupa (seven points, 12 rebounds, four assists and four steals was prominent across the board, while Maddison Rocci (eight points, five rebounds) and Keely Froling (seven points, six rebounds and four blocks) provided plenty of rebounding power.

DC Medal: 3 – Stephanie Talbot (AD), 2 – Marianna Tolo (UC), 1 – Brianna Turner (AD)

Melbourne Boomers (77) defeated Townsville Fire (61)

Melbourne took full advantage of a UC Capitals loss with both games on simultaneously, as the Boomers gained some vital breathing space in second spot as they grabbed their tenth win in their final game of 2019. Playing at home against bottom two side, Townsville Fire, the Boomers were strong favourites to take it out, and despite some resistance in the first term which saw both sides head into quarter time with 20 points apiece, Melbourne clicked after that. The Boomers scored 23 points to 16 in the second term to lead by seven at half-time, and had increased their lead to 11 by the final break. Not willing to take the foot off in the final term, Melbourne added 18 points to 13 in the last quarter to secure a fairly comfortable win, 77-61. Cayla George was the standout on court, sinking 27 points and helping herself to three rebounds and two steals. Lindsay Allen (10 points, three assists, two rebounds and two steals) was the other player to reach double figures from the starters, while Stella Beck (14 points, three rebounds and two assists) did it coming off the bench. The home side dominated rebounds, 38-29, with the likes of Ezi Magbegor (nine) and Kalani Purcell (nine) leading the way, with Purcell also picking up six assists and four steals to be the ultimate team player as she contributed just four points. For the Fire, Abby Bishop again led proceedings in the scoring department, adding 19 points, five rebounds, two assists and two steals, while Tess Madgen helped herself to 13 points, three rebounds and four assists. Julie Vanloo (10 points, two steals) also reached double figures, while Darcee Garbin might have had a night to forget in terms of shooting (one from seven from the field), but still recorded seven rebounds and three assists. Kate Gaze came off the bench for five points, three rebounds, three assists and two steals in a solid performance.

DC Medal: 3 – Cayla George (MB), 2 – Abby Bishop (TF), 1 – Stella Beck (MB)

Bendigo Spirit (79) defeated Townsville Fire (78)

Last placed Bendigo Spirit snapped a nine-game losing streak by holding on in a one-point thriller over fellow bottom two side, Townsville Fire. While Bendigo’s hopes of making finals were all but over prior to the game, the Spirit effectively ended the Fire’s chances by toppling them in the contest. It also meant Bendigo moved to within points difference of the Fire in seventh place on the ladder. In the match, neither side could be split at quarter time, before Townsville hit the front by two points at the half. Bendigo regained control by the final break with a powerful 27-21 third quarter, which earned a response from the visiting side. In one of the nail-biters of the season, Townsville scored 15 points to 12 in the last quarter, but it would not be enough to get the points. Carley Ernst led the way for the Spirit, sinking 24 points and picking up six rebounds and two assists in the process, while Abigail Wehrung helped herself to 18 points, six rebounds, four assists and two steals. Demi Skinner (16 points, five rebounds) and Shyla Heal (12 points, five rebounds) also reached double figures in what was a terrific team effort. For the losing side, Bridget Carleton shone across the board to be arguably the best-on despite the loss, picking up 19 points, 12 rebounds, three assists and two blocks. Tess Madgen (17 points, five rebounds and two assists) and Darcee Garbin (13 points, four rebounds) also were prominent in the starting line-up, while Micaela Cocks (10 points, two rebounds) contributed coming off the bench.

DC Medal: 3 – Bridget Carleton (TF), 2 – Carley Ernst (BS), 1 – Abigail Wehrung (BS)

Perth Lynx (59) defeated by UC Capitals (76)

The University of Canberra (UC) Capitals have drawn level with Melbourne Boomers in second spot after a dominant second term helped the reigning premiers overcome Perth Lynx on the road by 17 points. Neither side could be split in the opening term, but a 26-11 rout in the second stanza saw the Capitals race out to a 15-point half-time lead. Perth cut the deficit to 12 by the final break, before the Capitals put the foot back on the pedal with a 17-12 last term to run out 76-59 winners at Bendat Basketball Centre. Three Capitals picked up double doubles, with Tolo (21 points, 10 rebounds, three assists and four blocks), Froling (14 points, 11 rebounds) and Epoupa (10 points, 14 rebounds and seven assists) all reaching the milestone. Nurse was not too far behind to make a dominant starting four with 23 points, seven rebounds and five assists, while Rocci had six points, three rebounds and six assists in the win. For the Lynx, Katie-Rae Ebzery was a lone hand in attack with 25 points, four rebounds, two assists and two steals. The next highest scorers were Ariel Atkins (eight points, four rebounds and two steals) and Imani McGee-Stafford (eight points, six rebounds), while Marena Whittle amassed 13 rebounds to go with four points.

DC Medal: 3 – Olivia Epoupa (UC), 2 – Marianna Tolo (UC), 1 – Keely Froling (UC)

Sydney Uni Flames (72) defeated by Adelaide Lightning (80)

Adelaide has consolidated fourth spot with a crucial eight-point win over Sydney Uni Flames on the road. The Lightning moved two and a half games clear of the Flames in fifth, with Perth Lynx’s loss also helping give the Lightning a crucial break inside the finals spots. The Lightning got off to a good start to lead by two points at quarter time, but the Flames refused to throw in the towel, maintaining the narrow deficit by the main break. It was the third term where Adelaide kicked away with a 17-10 quarter to open up a nine-point advantage. Wary of a comeback in front of their home fans, the Lightning did not allow the Flames to gain too much momentum in the fourth term, with Sydney Uni only cutting the deficit by one at the final whistle to go down 72-80. Kathryn Westbeld continues to improve for the Lightning, starting and producing 17 points, four rebounds and three assists for the afternoon, while Talbot was best-on for the Lightning, sinking 13 points, and having nine rebounds and nine assists – just one rebound and one assist away from a triple-double. Nicholson (13 points, three rebounds and two assists) and Seekamp (13 points, six rebounds, five assists and two steals) also contributed plenty of points for the evening. For the losing side, Alice Kunek was a standout with 26 points, four rebounds and four assists, while Jessica Kuster (14 points, six rebounds, four assists, two steals and two blocks) and Alex Wilson (14 points, two rebounds, four assists and three steals) also reached double-figure points.

DC Medal: 3 – Stephanie Talbot (AD), 2 – Alice Kunek (SU), 1 – Kathryn Westbeld (AD)

DC Medal Leaderboard:

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

WNBL Round 9 review: Southside flies further ahead

SOUTHSIDE Flyers have moved three and a half games clear on top of the Women’s National Basketball (WNBL) ladder after back-to-back victories over the weekend made it six consecutive wins for the home side. The other results also fell the Flyers’ way, with Melbourne Boomers going down to Perth Lynx, meaning Southside is four wins ahead of Melbourne, but the Boomers have a game in hand.

Southside Flyers (81) defeated Townsville Fire (62)

In a battle of two sides up opposite ends of the WNBL ladder, it was no surprise to see the ladder leaders and premiership favourites come out on top in a 19-point win at Dandenong Stadium. Southside led early on with a five-point advantage at quarter time that increased to nine by the main break. The Flyers really put the Fire on ice in the second half, piling on 21 points to 12 in the third term to effectively end the contest. The final quarter was a low-scoring affair with just 13 points scored, as Southside again won the term to eventually get home, 81-62. Jenna O’Hea was the top scorer for the winners, posting up 17 points, five assists and three rebounds, while Sara Blicavs (13 points, eight rebounds) and Mercedes Russell (12 points, eight rebounds) were also prominent from the starting whistle. Anneli Maley showed what she has to offer, coming off the bench to pick up a double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds. For the Fire, Darcee Garbin was a lone hand on the scoring front, piling on 28 points and five rebounds, with Bridget Carleton‘s nine points the next highest. Julie Vanloo had a game-high eight assists, while Tess Madgen and Abby Bishop had six rebounds a piece in what were low scoring games for the duo.

DC Medal: 3 – Darcee Garbin (TF), 2 – Mercedes Russell (SF), Anneli Maley (SF)

Townsville Fire (61) defeated Sydney Uni Flames (57)

There is no place like home, and Townsville lived up to the famous saying by saluting with a four-point win over fellow bottom four side, Sydney Uni Flames. The Fire overcame the disappointing loss to Southside on Friday night with a tight 61-57 victory over the Flames to knock Sydney Uni out of fifth spot, and move the Fire to within a win of the Flames’ in sixth. Townsville had its work cut out from the get-go, leading by just a point at the first break and two by half-time. Sydney Uni was not about to just lie down however, as the Flames drew level by the three quarter time whistle thanks to a 14-12 term. Townsville got back on top in the final term to win the quarter 19-15, and it was ultimately the difference between the two sides on the night. Unlike Friday night, the Fire had their quartet of stars firing with Garbin again leading the way thanks to 15 points, 12 rebounds and two assists, while Carleton also picked up a double-double with 13 points and 13 rebounds. Madgen (15 points, nine rebounds and three assists) and Bishop (11 points, eight rebounds, four assists and two steals) were more prominent in the match to help Townsville to a much needed win. For the Flames, it was a performance not too dissimilar to Townsville’s effort on Friday night, with Alex Wilson being a lone hand on the scoring front. She dropped 20 points, as well as five assists and three rebounds, with Alice Kunek and Lauren Scherf the next highest points scorers with nine apiece, though they also shared in five rebounds and a steal each. Jessica Kuster was also strong off the boards with seven points, eight rebounds and four steals.

DC Medal: 3 – Bridget Carleton (TF), 2 – Darcee Garbin (TF), 1 – Tess Madgen (TF)

Adelaide Lightning (91) defeated Bendigo Spirit (75)

Adelaide maintained its top four spot with a very impressive 16-point win over cellar dwellers, Bendigo Spirit. The Lightning were too strong for Bendigo in the opening term with a 28-15 quarter, then extended the lead to 17 by half-time. To the visiting side’s credit, the Spirit refused to be dampened despite the heavy deficit, forcing their way back into the contest with a 19-15 term to put it back to a more manageable 13 points. It would prove to be a bridge too far to cross, as the Lightning took no chances, striking with a 23-20 final term to secure the 91-75 victory. Brianna Turner was massive for the winners, posting up 23 points, 13 rebounds, two assist, three steals and five blocks in a memorable performance. She was well aided by the likes of Stephanie Talbot (17 points, 10 rebounds, nine assists, two steals a a block) who was equally as effective, narrowly missing out on a rare triple-double. Nicole Seekamp (13 points, three rebounds and five assists) and Lauren Nicholson (10 points, three assists) also reached double-figure points, as did Chelsea Brook (16 points, three rebounds) coming off the bench. For Bendigo, Carley Ernst had a big impact starting on the bench with a team-high 21 points, nine rebounds and two blocks, while Demi Skinner (17 points, eight rebounds) and Shyla Heal (16 points, four rebounds, four assists and three steals) were also prominent.

DC Medal: 3 – Brianna Turner (AL), 2 – Stephanie Talbot (AL), 1 – Carley Ernst (BS)

Perth Lynx (68) defeated Melbourne Boomers (66)

In a crucial game, Perth Lynx stepped up to the plate to knock off Melbourne Boomers by two points and retain fifth spot on the table. The Lynx needed the victory to keep in touch with fourth placed Adelaide Lightning, and also restore the faith with a big scalp in front of home fans. It was far from an easy night, with the Boomers turning a four-point quarter time deficit into a seven-point half-time lead following a huge 22-11 second quarter. Perth put the afterburners on in the third term to double the visitor’s score thanks to 18 points to nine, and move two points clear. That proved to be the final deficit as both sides traded blows in the final term, but it was the Lynx who came out on top in a 68-66 win. Katie-Rae Ebzery top-scored for the Lynx, posting up 16 points, four rebounds and three assists, while Alison Schwagmeyer came off the bench to be an influence on court with 15 points, six rebounds and four assists. Lauren Mansfield (15 points, four assists, two rebounds and two steals) and Nadeen Payne (10 points, five rebounds and two assists) both reached double-figure points, while Imani McGee-Stafford surprisingly did not score but put up nine rebounds in the win. Despite the loss, Cayla George was arguably best on court with 14 points, 10 rebounds and three assists, while Ezi Magbegor (15 points, seven rebounds and three steals) and Sophie Cunningham (16 points, four rebounds and three assists) were also strong on the night.

DC Medal: 3 – Cayla George (MB), 2 – Alison Schwagmeyer (PL), 1 – Katie-Rae Ebzery (PL)

UC Capitals (65) defeated by Southside Flyers (70)

In the final game of the round, Southside overcame its only conqueror this season, recording an important five-point victory over reigning premiers, University of Canberra (UC) Capitals. The Flyers ensured they had a good start to get away to a three-point lead, but it was not long before the home side reeled them back in as the Capitals scored 18-14 in the second term to hit the front. They extended the lead to three points by the final break, before Southside found an extra wind and flew home with a 23-15 final term to run away with the 70-65 contest in what was an enthralling battle between two title contenders. Rebecca Cole was the most prominent scorer with 21 points, three rebounds, one assist and two steals, while Russell was again a standout thanks to her 17 points, 10 rebounds, two assists and two blocks. As she did in her side’s loss against the Capitals, former UC player Leilani Mitchell was busy with 15 points, seven rebounds and two assists in the win. For the Capitals, Marianna Tolo topped the scoreboard with 16 points, six rebounds and two assists, while Kia Nurse (13 points, five rebounds and two assists) and Olivia Epoupa (11 points, eight rebounds, seven assists and four steals) were ultra impressive. Star forward Kelsey Griffin was well restricted to just four points, but managed 12 defensive rebounds, two steals and a block in the loss.

DC Medal: 3 – Mercedes Russell (SF), 2 – Olivia Epoupa (UC), 1 – Leilani Mitchell (SF)

DC Medal Leaderboard:

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

WNBL Round 6 review: Top three move two games clear

BACK-to-back wins over the weekend to Melbourne Boomers, and victories to Southside Flyers and University of Canberra (UC) Capitals meant the top three in the Women’s National Basketball League (WNBL) moved two games clear of fourth. The other game saw Perth Lynx keep their finals hopes alive with an important win over Sydney Uni Flames.

Adelaide Lightning 57 defeated by Melbourne Boomers 71

Melbourne secured a vital road win against fourth placed Adelaide Lightning to gain a bit of separation inside the top three. The Boomers trailed by three points at the first break, but hit back with a 17-8 second term, and went on with it from there, restricting the Lightning to just 30 points in the last three quarters, while piling on 57 themselves to run away with a 71-57 victory. Lindsay Allen was the top scorer with 20 points, six rebounds, five assists and one steal, while Ezi Magbegor picked up a double double in her best performance of the year with 13 points, 11 rebounds and two blocks. Cayla George (13 points, seven rebounds, four assists, three steals and three blocks) was superb, while Penina Davidson had 11 points and nine rebounds off the bench. For the Lightning, Nicole Seekamp sank 15 points, two rebounds and three assists, while Brianna Turner (10 points, 14 rebounds and three blocks) and Chelsea Brook (10 points, five rebounds) were the other two players who reached double figure points. Stephanie Talbot tried hard with seven points, nine rebounds, three assists and two steals, but ultimately the home side could not put enough points on the board.

DC Medal: 3 – Lindsay Allen (MB), 2 – Ezi Magbegor (MB), 1 – Cayla George (MB)

Sydney Uni Flames 82 defeated by Perth Lynx 91

Perth finally snapped its four-game losing streak with an important nine-point victory over Sydney Uni – the side it last beat all the way back in Round 1. The Lynx edged ahead in the second term after an even first quarter, but then added 23 points to 18 in the third to lead by 10 at the final break. The Flames hit back to cut the deficit back to nine, but it would not be enough in the end. Alison Schwagmeyer produced another stunning game, picking up a double double with 25 points, 10 rebounds, three assists and one steal to be best on court, while Katie-Rae Ebzery returned from Opals duties to post 20 points, three rebounds and three assists in the win. Ariel Atkins continued her good start to her WNBL career with 12 points, five rebounds, four assists and two steals off the bench. Maddison Allen was also strong with 12 points, six rebounds and two blocks. For the Flames, Colleen Planeta was the best with 16 points and nine rebounds, while Alex Wilson shared the top scorer billing with 16 points, three rebounds and nine assists. Lauren Scherf (14 points, five rebounds, four assists and two blocks) and Jessica Kuster (13 points, nine rebounds) were the other two key scorers for the home side.

DC Medal: 3 – Alison Schwagmeyer (PL), 2 – Katie-Rae Ebzery (PL), 1 – Colleen Planeta (SU)

Townsville Fire 59 defeated by Southside Flyers 91

Southside Flyers bounced back from their first loss of the WNBL season with a big statement over cellar dwellers, Townsville Fire. Sitting at opposite ends of the ladder, the Flyers piled on 30 points to 19 in the opening term, then proceeded to win all four quarters in a one-sided, dominant display. Never letting up, it was clear to see that Southside is one of the title contenders, producing such an effort on the road. Jenna O’Hea (21 points, seven assists and two steals) and Rebecca Cole (20 points, four rebounds, two assists and two steals) were the key scorers, while Mercedes Russell continued her dominant start to the season with an impressive 17 points, nine rebounds and two assists. It was hard to find the top player for the Flyers with Sara Blicavs also picking up a double double thanks to 12 points, 13 rebounds and four assists, while Leilani Mitchell had eight assists and three rebounds to go with her 13 points. Abby Bishop was the clear standout for the Fire with 20 points and eight rebounds, while Micaela Cocks (10 points, three rebounds and three assists) was the other player to reach double figures in what was a disappointing loss for the home side.

DC Medal: 3 – Mercedes Russell (SF), 2 – Sara Blicavs (SF), 1 – Jenna O’Hea (SF)

Bendigo Spirit 59 defeated by Melbourne Boomers 75

Rounding out a good weekend for the Boomers, Melbourne took home the points on the road against Bendigo Spirit in a 16-point win. The Spirit started strongly to lead by three points at the first break and half-time, before the Boomers took over to lead by the same margin with a quarter to play. They built on that momentum in the final term to post 24 points to 11 and run away with the contest in a margin that was not completely accurate of the game’s tightness. Allen was again the team’s top scorer with 17 points, four assists and two steals in the win, while Madeleine Garrick stepped up to contribute 12 points, six rebounds and two steals. Magbegor (10 points, seven rebounds and two steals) and George (10 points, six rebounds, six assists, two steals and two blocks) were also prominent across the board. For the Spirit, Abigail Wehrung was a lone hand in the scoring department with 13 points, as well as two rebounds and two assists, while Kelly Wilson picked up nine of her team’s 16 assists, though had seven of her side’s 27 turnovers. Rebecca Tobin was the dominant player off the boards with 15 rebounds to accompany her six points, four assists and two steals.

DC Medal: 3 – Cayla George (MB), 2 – Lindsay Allen (MB), 1 – Madeleine Garrick (MB)

UC Capitals 84 defeated Perth Lynx 66

Reigning premiers, University of Canberra (UC) Capitals finished strongly at home to run over the top of Perth Lynx and maintain touch with Melbourne and Southside in the top three. The Lynx surprised the home crowd in the opening term to lead by a point at quarter time, before the Capitals piled on 23 points to 16 in the second term. Perth got back on top in the third to reclaim the lead by two points at the final break. Like any good side on the ropes, the Capitals found a way to breakthrough and eventually piled on the points in the final term, sinking 32 points to 12 to run away with an 18-point win in a game where – like the previous one – the final margin did not accurately reflect how close the game was. Kelsey Griffin was unbelievable with 19 points, 15 rebounds, three assists and two blocks, while Marianna Tolo (12 points, 10 rebounds, four assists and three blocks) also picked up a double double, Kia Nurse played her best game for the season in terms of overall impact and not just points, picking up 18 points, seven rebounds and six assists, while Maddison Rocci also impressed with 13 points, three rebounds and three assists. Coming off the bench, young gun Gemma Potter scored nine points and had two assists. For the Lynx, Lauren Mansfield scored a game-high 23 points, as well as five rebounds, four assists and two steals, while Schwagmeyer added another 19 points and seven rebounds to her season totals. Nadeen Payne (10 points, 10 rebounds) picked up a double-double, while Atkins had six points, five rebounds, three steals and three assists.

DC Medal: 3 – Kelsey Griffin (UC), 2 – Kia Nurse (UC), 1 – Lauren Mansfield (PL)

DC Medal Leaderboard:

16 – Kelsey Griffin (UC)
15 – Cayla George (MB),
14 – Mercedes Russell (SF)
13 – Lindsay Allen (MB)
12 –
11 –
10 – Brianna Turner (AL), Alison Schwagmeyer (PL)
9 –
8 – Katie-Rae Ebzery (PL)
7 – Leilani Mitchell (SF), Abby Bishop (TF), Colleen Planeta (AD), Jenna O’Hea (SF)
6 – Keely Froling (UC), Stephanie Talbot (AL), Kia Nurse (UC)
5 – Alice Kunek (SU), Tahlia Tupaea (SU), Olivia Epoupa (UC)
4 – Imani McGee-Stafford (PL), Kelly Wilson (BS)
3 – Carley Ernst (BS), Rebecca Tobin (BS), Sara Blicavs (SF), Madeleine Garrick (MB),
2 – Crystal Langhorne (AD), Micaela Cocks (TF), Rebecca Cole (SF), Chelsea Brook (AD), Ezi Magbegor (MB), Lauren Mansfield (PL)
1 – Bridget Carleton (TF), Lauren Nicholson (AL), Sophie Cunningham (MB), Jessica Kuster (SU), Nicole Seekamp (AL), Tess Madgen (TF), Ariel Atkins (PL)

WNBL Round 5 review: Final three games see UC capitalise in Melbourne

REIGNING premiers, University of Canberra (UC) Capitals made it a weekend away in Melbourne to remember, downing the Boomers on Saturday after also getting the better of the Flyers on Thursday night. They moved to second on the table, while other results on Saturday saw Adelaide Lightning smash Bendigo Spirit, and Perth Lynx win their first game since Round 1 to down the Flames for the second time this season and move to fifth on the Women’s National Basketball League (WNBL) ladder.

Perth Lynx (93) defeated Sydney Uni Flames (74)

Despite a rocky start to the season and having not won since Round 1 – and only against the Flames – Perth’s victory over Sydney Uni moved the Lynx to fifth spot on the table, one of four sides with two or less victories this season and opening up a large gap between the finals-bound places and the rest. The Lynx made their intentions clear early, slamming home 31 points to 15 in the opening term on Saturday night, before extending the half-time lead to 20. They were not going to take the foot off the jugular after the break, adding 22 points to 15 in the third term to end the contest. The Flames managed to grab some important points back in the final term as the Lynx gave plenty of up-and-coming stars a run, but the game was over and they won 93-74. Katie-Rae Ebzery was simply superb for the Lynx, recording a game-high 28 points, four rebounds and two steals, while Lauren Mansfield was a great playmaker thanks to 13 points, seven assists, four rebounds and two steals. Alison Schwagmeyer – while down on her usual point-scoring output – had 10 points, nine rebounds and three steals, as Nadeen Payne and Marena Whittle also added 10 points each to the cause. For the Flames, Colleen Planeta stepped up in defeat to sink 23 points and eight rebounds, while Alice Kunek was the only other major scorer with 14 points, five assists and three rebounds. Lauren Scherf had just eight points but helped out around the court with seven rebounds and five assists.

DC Medal: 3 – Katie-Rae Ebzery (PL), 2 – Colleen Planeta (SU), 1 – Lauren Mansfield (PL)

Adelaide Lightning (105) defeated Bendigo Spirit (77)

Adelaide ensured it had some breathing space in the top four thanks to a big win over Bendigo Spirit at home. The Lightning added 28 points to 18 in the opening term, then extended the lead to 17 by the main break. They put together a four quarter performance in front of the home crowd at Titanium Security Arena, winning the last two quarters, 23-16 and 25-21 to run away 28-point winners, 105-77. Brianna Turner was the top scorer on the court with 22 points, eight rebounds and two assists, while Stephanie Talbot had 18 points, four rebounds, eight assists and two steals in a big performance. Chelsea Brook and Lauren Nicholson were busy throughout the game with 16 points apiece with Brook also recording six rebounds. Nicole Seekamp might have had just the 10 points on the board, but came close to a double double, setting up teammates for nine assists on the night. For the losers, Carley Ernst picked up a team-high 17 points and six rebounds, while Shyla Heal tried her hardest off the bench with 16 points and three assists. Kelly Wilson was the other Spirit player to reach double figures in the points column with 15, as well as two rebounds. It was a disappointing night for Bendigo who go into the week’s break having to regroup after the big loss, while Adelaide will head in knowing it is close to the top three sides.

DC Medal: 3 – Brianna Turner (AL), 2 – Stephanie Talbot (AL), 1 – Chelsea Brook (AL)

Melbourne Boomers (76) defeated by UC Capitals (79)

In the final game of the round, UC Capitals took back second spot with a huge 79-76 victory over Melbourne Boomers, completing a season-defining weekend away in Melbourne. Having knocked off the previously undefeated Southside Flyers on Thursday night, the Capitals handed the same fate to the Boomers, starting strongly to open a 10-point lead by quarter time. Melbourne went one better in the second quarter to turn it around and lead by a point themselves courtesy of a 26-15 second term, before extending that to four by three quarter time. The reigning premiers refused to lie down however, forcing their way back into the contest to deliver a 29-22 final term to record a narrow 79-76 victory. Kia Nurse was again the top points scorer with 22, as well as three rebounds and three assists, as Kelsey Griffin did as she pleased with nine rebounds, three assists and five steals to accompany her 18 points in a best on court performance. Marianna Tolo started this week and had 18 points, five rebounds and two blocks, while Olivia Epoupa finished with a productive five rebounds, eight assists and four steals to go with five points. For the Boomers, Lindsay Allen (18 points, six assists) and Sophie Cunningham (18 points, three rebounds and two steals) tried hard throughout the contest, while Cayla George had 10 points, eight rebounds and four assists in defeat.

DC Medal: 3 – Kelsey Griffin (UC), 2 – Kia Nurse (UC), 1 – Cayla George (MB)

DC Medal Leaderboard:

13 – Kelsey Griffin (UC)
12 –
11 – Mercedes Russell (SF), Cayla George (MB)
10 – Brianna Turner (AL)
9 –
8 – Lindsay Allen (MB)
7 – Alison Schwagmeyer (PL), Leilani Mitchell (SF), Abby Bishop (TF)
6 – Jenna O’Hea (SF), Keely Froling (UC), Katie-Rae Ebzery (PL), Colleen Planeta (AD), Stephanie Talbot (AL)
5 – Alice Kunek (SU), Tahlia Tupaea (SU), Olivia Epoupa (UC)
4 – Imani McGee-Stafford (PL), Kelly Wilson (BS), Kia Nurse (UC)
3 – Carley Ernst (BS), Rebecca Tobin (BS)
2 – Crystal Langhorne (AD), Madeleine Garrick (MB), Micaela Cocks (TF), Rebecca Cole (SF), Chelsea Brook (AD)
1 – Bridget Carleton (TF), Lauren Nicholson (AL), Sophie Cunningham (MB), Jessica Kuster (SU), Nicole Seekamp (AL), Tess Madgen (TF), Sara Blicavs (SF), Ariel Atkins (PL), Lauren Mansfield (PL)