Tag: colleen planeta

NBL1 South Women’s team summary: Dandenong Rangers

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 Dandenong Rangers womens side that had a season of two halves.

2019 in Review:

Finished: 7th
Wins: 11
Losses: 9
Home: 6-5
Away: 5-4

What went right:

  • First half of the season, went 9-1
  • Rebecca Cole’s season
  • Clean (10.2 turnovers per game the least in the competition)
  • Free-throws (78.2 per cent accuracy, ranked third overall)
  • Blocks (3.8 per game, ranked third overall)
  • Steals (10.1 per game, the best in the competition)

The Rangers’ season might have ended in the first week of finals, but the Dandenong-based side can look back and see a lot more positives than negatives from the season. They won nine of the first 10 games and at one stage looked like a clear title threat, with only a low-scoring 14 point loss to Melbourne in May ruining an otherwise perfect start to the season. Despite what occurred in the second half of the season, the Rangers had a number of statistical areas that shone through and will be areas they can continue to build on next season. They were the top side when it came to most steals and least turnovers, showing just how clean the side was in transition and when opting to use the ball. They also ranked in the top three for free-throw accuracy and blocks per game, and Rebecca Cole‘s season was outstanding with the star talent making the All-Star Five at the end of the season.

What went wrong:

  • Second half of the season, went 2-8
  • Offensive rebounds (8.3 per game, the worst in the competition)
  • Assists (14.5 per game, ranked 16th overall)

After such a promising start to the season, the Rangers fell into a hole they could not quite get out of, dropping eight of the last 10 games of the regular season to only just sneak into finals having all but seemingly locked up a spot midway through the year. In such a tight competition, the Rangers were both benefited (remaining in contention) but hindered (many teams in the finals race) by it. They struggled in both assists and offensive rebounds, often going it alone or relying on their shooting to get the job done. Working on their offensive areas to provide more avenues to score will certainly help, but in the first half of the season they were averaging 79.4 points per game outside the one loss, and that dropped to 67.1 points in the second half of the season.

Top Players:

Rebecca Cole

One of the stars of the season, and a point-scoring machine. Cole averaged 26.0 points, 4.9 rebounds, 4.1 assists and 1.7 steals to lead her side in all statistical areas bar rebounds. It was a huge year from the talented WNBL player who also averaged 81.1 per cent from the free-throw line and 46.2 per cent from the field. She was far from alone when it came to contributors, but she was hard to stop when on court. It was unfortunate for the Rangers and the general basketball public to only see her in 12 games, but it showed just how good her season was to make the All-Star Five off less minutes.

Colleen Planeta

The American import stood up in the absence of Cole, playing each of the 21 games and averaging almost a double-double per game. Planeta averaged a team-high 9.5 rebounds per match to go with her 18.3 points per game, and also filled the other areas with 1.9 assists, 1.9 blocks and 1.2 steals per game. She averaged greater than 50 per cent from the field, and was 87.3 per cent from the free-throw line.

Aimie Clydesdale

The other Rangers player who averaged double-figure points, Clydesdale provided the perfect support to Cole, as she averaged an almost-identical stat line outside of points. She still managed the 15.5 points per game, but had the 4.0 rebounds, 4.0 assists and 1.7 steals, and was able to take the court in 20 of the 21 matches. Her three-point shooting was elite at 39.2 per cent, and she also averaged 75 per cent from the line.

Young Gun:

Isobel Anstey

The young gun has committed to UCLA and showed in her time on court with the Rangers how bright of a future she has in the sport. She averaged 4.8 points, 6.2 rebounds, 1.6 assists and 1.5 steals per game in 18.1 minutes per game, starting in two of 13 matches. One of five teenagers named on the list at the start of the season, the then 17-year-old was able to stand up against more experienced opponents and win plenty of boards. At 190cm, Anstey will be one to watch in the NCAA.

Christmas list for 2021:

A circuit breaker. The Rangers were absolutely firing in the first half of the season, but then could not get themselves out of their second half rut. If they had another player or two who could just provide that fresh look to be a circuit breaker and arrest the sliding win-loss ratio, then they could well have gone deep in 2019. They have the players to make a title challenge, it will be whether they can get them on court for long enough, and if they do, then watch out.

Summary:

The Dandenong Rangers might have fallen away in the second half of the season, but their first half gave a good enough indication that they were more than capable of matching it with the best sides. Always likely to be a successful outfit, a few tweaks here or there will put them in a good position to be a real contender come 2021.

2019/20 WNBL season review: Sydney Uni Flames

SYDNEY Uni was plagued by injury in season 2019/20 of the Women’s National Basketball League (WNBL), with the side suffering a number of season-ending injuries as the season went on. While the Flames still managed seven wins, they lost six of their last seven matches for the season to finish on a frustrating low.

Ladder: 6th
Win-loss:
7-14

After finishing the 2018-19 season with a 2-19 record, change was not just crucial, but it was imminent. First the Flames hired a new coach in Katrina Hibbert, while the most hyped addition to the squad was that of veteran Alice Kunek. It was believed that Kunek’s experience would be a key asset to the team’s success – it was, seeing her lead the team in scoring with an average of 19 points per game, playing with so much passion and ferocity, you could not keep your eyes off her. But her season was brought to an abrupt end suffering an elbow injury. Colleen Planeta was another new face for Sydney and was dropping nearly 16 points a game, until she followed suit with injury. With many more new players in Flames jerseys, unfortunately injuries would be a major theme for this season. However props to the fanatics of Sydney Uni, as they stood loyal, packing the Brydens Stadium game after game. 

It was an injury riddled season starting from the opening round when Brittany Smart suffered a terrible calf injury. This would not deter the Flames’ spirits as the rest of the season started on a positive. Kunek was thriving in the new offence, and the duo of Planeta and Jess Kuster piled up the scoreboard averaging 15.7 and 13 points a game. But the injuries did not stop there as Planeta suffered an ACL injury in the win over Southside, forcing her to miss the rest of the season. At this point in the season, the Flames’ hopes of a playoff berth were still realistic, as they only had a six and eight record. But after Tahlia Tupea did her knee, then Kunek her elbow, the season seemed over. Even with Kunek’s devastating elbow injury, which is a tough pill to swallow for a 29 year-old, Kunek was granted WNBL All-Star Second Team honours for her impressive efforts across the season. Smart was able to come back and play the last seven games of the season nearly dropping 10 points a match, while having three games where she scored more than 18, but it was too little too late. The Flames finished the season second last in points scored (73.8 per game), last in rebounds (38 per game) and last in assists (15.4 per game).

If it was not for the injuries, maybe this team could have made some noise in the playoffs. If everyone can recover in time for next season, they just might. In Kuster’s first ever season in the WNBL, it seemed she had the hot hand every single match, shooting at 53.1 per cent from the field and 40.7 per cent from deep. Kitty Henderson will be someone to look out for next season, as she has improved notably with every game under her belt. Starting the season as a development player, Kitty moved her way up to an important bench player thanks to injuries, bringing a level of enthusiasm and ability to improve that any team would be lucky to have. The Flames seem to be putting more and more faith in gifted 16-year-old prodigy, Alana Goodchild. She might just be a name you want to remember. The Flames also say goodbye to their captain Sarah Graham, a veteran for 12 seasons in the WNBL across four different clubs. With all the injuries the Flames obtained, they seemingly lost the spark they came into the season with but have plenty to look forward to next season with the development of some young up and coming players.

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.

2019/20 WNBL Round 11 preview: Top four spots on the line to close out the year

FIVE Women’s National Basketball League (WNBL) games will be played between Christmas and the New Year with the top of the table Southside Flyers to have a week off, while University of Canberra (UC) Capitals, Adelaide Lightning and Townsville Fire all play two games.

ADELAIDE LIGHTNING vs. UC CAPITALS
Friday, December 27, 7:00pm
Titanium Security Arena

In the first game post-Christmas, fourth placed Adelaide Lightning will be keen to bridge the gap between themselves and third spot on the ladder, UC Capitals. This top four clash could well determine if a spot in the top three is still up for grabs, or whether or not the reigning premiers can consolidate their position with the top two Victorian sides. For Adelaide, a win keeps the Lightning in touch with the top three, while a loss throws them back to a mid-table log-jam. These teams have played just once this season, with the Capitals getting up at home by seven points. With Kelsey Griffin missing last round, it was the likes of Keely Froling who stood tall, picking up 30 points and taking her average to 14.3 points per game as well as 6.8 rebounds. Kia Nurse has been a consistent scorer for the Capitals with 20.4 points per game, while Olivia Epoupa continues to rack up the stats across the board, averaging 8.3 points. 6.8 rebounds, 6.3 assists and 3.3 steals per game. For the Lightning, the damaging duo of Stephanie Talbot (16.0 points, 8.2 rebounds, 3.9 assists and 1.8 steals per game) and Brianna Turner (15.8 points, 10.3 rebounds, 1.8 blocks and 1.1 steals) have been the key players throughout the 2019/20 WNBL season.

MELBOURNE BOOMERS vs. TOWNSVILLE FIRE
Friday, December 27, 7:30pm
State Basketball Centre

In Victoria, Melbourne hosts Townsville in a bid to retain second spot on the table after snatching it last round. The Boomers host the Fire who are just about out of finals contention, winning just three games from 12 so far this season and are three games outside the top four. For the Boomers, grabbing a top two spot will be crucial in their hopes of making it one step further than last year, and have a 5-2 win-loss record at home, while Townsville is just 1-5 when on the road this season. In these side’s only other head-to-head, Melbourne got up by nine points up in Queensland, with them previously winning both fixtures at home in the 2018/19 season, albeit by a combined 10 points. One can expect this will be an exciting contest, with the likes of Boomers Lindsay Allen (16.4 points, 3.4 rebounds, 5.2 assists and 1.3 steals) and Cayla George (13.4 points, 8.8 rebounds, 3.8 assists, 1.5 steals and 1.5 blocks) leading the charge, while Ezi Magbegor has been in good form of late. Abby Bishop continues to dominate games for Townsville, standing up each and every week to average 16.5 points, 8.2 rebounds, 3.4 assists and 2.4 steals per game, while Darcee Garbin (14.3 points, 6.5 rebounds and 1.3 steals per game) and Tess Madgen (11.6 points, 6.3 rebounds, 3.8 assists and 1.1 steals) have also been strong performers.

BENDIGO SPIRIT vs. TOWNSVILLE FIRE
Saturday, December 28, 7:00pm
Bendigo Stadium

Townsville has less than 24 hours to turnaround from the contest against the Boomers in order to face bottom placed Bendigo Spirit up at Bendigo Stadium. It is fair to say a loss for the Fire here would rule them out of the finals race, and join the Spirit as the other team out of contention. Bendigo has a chance to draw within points difference of the Fire if it can get a good result here, but with nine consecutive losses, the Spirit have not had the start to the season they would have liked. The good news for Bendigo is they are better at home than on the road, winning both their games there, but they came early in the season, though Townsville are worse on the road with the 1-5 record. Carley Ernst was again prolific in the Spirit’s performance last round, averaging 10.5 points and 6.6 rebounds per game this season, while Demi Skinner has progressed from the bench to the starting line-up, averaging 10.2 points and 3.2 rebounds per game. Kelly Wilson is the other standout player this season for the Spirit, posting up numbers of 9.9 points. 4.0 rebounds, 5.6 assists and 1.4 steals per game. Bridget Carleton has been a valuable addition to the fire this season, with the Canadian putting up numbers of 11.4 points and 5.4 rebounds per game, while Belgium’s Julie Vanloo averages the 8.1 points and 3.6 assists.

PERTH LYNX vs. UC CAPITALS
Sunday December 29, 1:00pm
Bendat Basketball Centre

Staying in the finals race last weekend, sixth placed Perth Lynx will hope to stand up against the reigning premiers, UC Capitals at home when the teams clash on Sunday afternoon. The Lynx are just half a game outside of fifth from Sydney Uni Flames, and a game and a half from fourth placed Adelaide Lightning as both those teams clash in Sydney later on in the afternoon. In this match, the Capitals will eye off second spot once against after Melbourne snatched it in Round 10. The Capitals have only played five games on the road, registering a 3-2 win-loss record, while the Lynx have split their home games at three wins and three losses apiece. In their only other encounter this season, the Capitals easily got the win at home, producing an 18-point win over the Lynx. Alison Schwagmeyer (16.3 points, 6.3 rebounds and 2.1 assists) has been important for the home side this season, as have Katie-Rae Ebzery (14.7 points, 4.3 rebounds, 4.8 assists and 1.4 blocks) and Imani McGee-Stafford (11.0 points, 8.7 rebounds and 1.4 blocks). The Capitals have no shortage of contributors this season, with others who have been strong performers across the board including Marianna Tolo (11.0 points, 6.5 rebounds and 1.5 blocks), Maddison Rocci (7.1 points, 2.4 assists) and Gemma Potter (2.8 points, 1.2 rebounds) who have been involved in all games when available.

SYDNEY UNI FLAMES vs. ADELAIDE LIGHTNING
Sunday, December 29, 5:00pm
Brydens Stadium

To round out the weekend, Sydney Uni Flames will be eyeing off fourth spot with a do-or-die clash against Adelaide Lightning. Adelaide has first crack at retaining fourth spot courtesy of a match against UC Capitals on Friday night, but lose that and it is game-on here. The winner will secure fourth in that scenario, and while Sydney Uni’s points difference is a concern (minus 64), it has started to build some good form of late, winning both games last weekend, including an all-important victory over Southside Flyers. The Flames were able to topple the Lightning just a couple of weeks ago in Sydney and will be aiming to repeat the dose in this Round 11 match. Back in Round 1, Adelaide got the chocolates with a 10-point win in South Australia. Sydney holds a positive 3-2 record at home, while the Lightning are two from six when on the road. Alice Kunek has mirrored the team’s form as she racks up double doubles with ease, averaging 18.1 points, 4.8 rebounds and 3.3 assists per game, teaming well with Jessica Kuster (12.6 points, 6.6 rebounds and 1.2 steals). Colleen Planeta (15.7 points, 6.8 rebounds) has been constantly along the best and will leave a hole in the line-up after it was confirmed she injured her anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in the Flames’ last game, while Alex Wilson (11.9 points, 3.3 rebounds and 4.9 assists) is always prominent. Talbot and Turner have been the key duo this season for the Lightning, but Lauren Nicholson (14.0 points, 2.8 rebounds, 2.4 assists and 1.6 steals per game) and Nicole Seekamp (11.6 points, 3.3 rebounds and 7.1 assists) are always carefully monitored by the opposition. A crucial game to close out the round and the year.

WNBL Round 10 review: Flames fire up in tight round of action

SYDNEY Uni Flames have kept their Women’s National Basketball League (WNBL) finals hopes alive after back-to-back wins in Round 10 saw them move to within a game of fourth spot on the table. It was a different story for both Townsville Fire and Bendigo Spirit as the sides combined for three losses to be a couple of games behind the top six.

Bendigo Spirit (81) defeated by Sydney Uni Flames (88)

In a special Thursday night encounter, Sydney Uni Flames got up by just seven points over cellar dwellers, Bendigo Spirit on the road. The Flames overcame a half-time deficit of seven points, to post a 44-30 second half. The visitors took control in the third term, outscoring the home team by five to cut the deficit to two at the last change, before running away with it in the final quarter thanks to an impressive 24-15 term in the 88-81 victory. Jessica Kuster (20 points, seven rebounds, two assists and two steals) and Alice Kunek (20 points, six rebounds, two assists and one steal) both dominated the points for Sydney Uni, while Colleen Planeta contributed 14 points, four rebounds, three assists and two blocks. Lauren Scherf was also prominent off the boards with 12 rebounds to accompany her nine points. For the Spirit, Carley Ernst was the clear standout thanks to an equal game-high 20 points, as well as seven rebounds, five assists and two steals in the loss. Kelly Wilson (19 points, five rebounds, two assists and two steals) was not far behind, while Abigail Wehrung (15 points, four rebounds and two assist) and Marte Grays (11 points, six rebounds and two assists) also reached double-figure points.

DC Medal: 3 – Jessica Kuster (SU), 2 – Carley Ernst (BS), 1 – Alice Kunek (SU)

UC Capitals (76) defeated Bendigo Spirit (66)

Bendigo suffered its second loss of the weekend, this time up in the nation’s capital when the Spirit went down to the reigning premiers. The University of Canberra (UC) Capitals saluted in a 76-66 win, taking an early two-point lead at quarter time, then extending it to eight by half-time. To Bendigo’s credit the Spirit won the third quarter with a 17-16 effort, before the Capitals regained the momentum in the last term to extend its eventual winning margin out to 10 – the highest of the round. In the absence of 2018/19 Most Valuable Player (MVP) Kelsey Griffin, Keely Froling took control for the Capitals, posting a massive 30 points, 10 rebounds, three assists and two steals to be the standout player on court. Kia Nurse (16 points, six rebounds and two steals) and Marianna Tolo (13 points, nine rebounds, three assists, two steals and four blocks) were also prominent, while Olivia Epoupa continued her strong performance across the board thanks to eight points, 12 rebounds, five assists and three steals. Demi Skinner top-scored for the Spirit with 15 points, as well as five rebounds, while Wehrung had 13 points and three rebounds. Ernst only scored the five points in the match, but recorded 11 rebounds.

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

Townsville Fire (77) defeated by Perth Lynx (82)

Perth Lynx grabbed a crucial win in the scheme of the finals race, knocking over fellow bottom three side Townsville Fire on the road to move a game and a half clear of the Fire heading into Christmas. The home side was up and about early, taking a three-point lead into quarter time, before Perth hit its straps in the second term to cut the deficit back to one point. Townsville continued to lead throughout the game, extending the margin back out to three by the last change, before the Lynx saved their best to last with a powerful 23-15 final quarter to secure the all-important 82-77 victory. Ariel Atkins top-scored for the winners with 16 points, four rebounds, two assists and one steal, while Katie-Rae Ebzery (15 points, six rebounds, three steals and three assists) was productive across all areas. Nadeen Payne (11 points, six rebounds) was busy off the boards, while Marena Whittle (12 points, three rebounds) and Alison Schwagmeyer (11 points, three rebounds, four assists, two steals and two blocks) both provided relief off the bench. For Townsville, Abby Bishop was absolutely enormous in a bid to drag her side over the line. She contributed a game-high 18 points and 16 rebounds, while also picking up four assists, three steals and a block. Bridget Carleton (17 points, three rebounds), Darcee Garbin (14 points, nine rebounds and three assists), Tess Madgen (12 points, seven rebounds and five assists) and Julie Vanloo (11 points, seven rebounds) all shared the load, but the team recorded 17 turnovers to 10 to ultimately cost them the game despite dominating the rebounds, 42-30.

DC Medal: 3 – Abby Bishop (TF), 2 – Katie-Rae Ebzery (PL), 1 – Darcee Garbin (TF)

Southside Flyers (79) defeated by Sydney Uni Flames (86)

The biggest upset of the round came on Saturday night when the Sydney Uni Flames took down ladder leaders, Southside Flyers at Dandenong Stadium. The Flames secured back-to-back wins and moved to within a game of fourth spot with the seven-point triumph, winning two of the quarters but making it count with a fast start. Sydney Uni raced out of the blocks to pile on 24 points to 16 in the opening term, then survived a second term fightback by the Flyers to still lead by seven at the main break. That lead went back out to eight heading into the final quarter, and again the visitors weathered the storm in the last term to eventually take home the chocolates, 86-79. Kunek was best on court with a double-double effort thanks to 27 points, 11 rebounds and four assists, while Planeta stood tall with 20 points, five rebounds, two assists and two blocks. Alex Wilson came close to a double-double herself with 12 points, nine assists, three rebounds and three steals, while Kuster (11 points, six rebounds and three steals) and Tahlia Tupaea (11 points, six rebounds and four assists) also reached double-figure points. Sara Blicavs was the standout for the losing side, adding 23 points and nine rebounds in the absence of Mercedes Russell and Jenna O’Hea, while Leilani Mitchell (18 points, three rebounds and eight assists) and Rebecca Cole (13 points, five rebounds and four assists) were also busy across the night.

DC Medal: 3 – Alice Kunek (SU), 2 – Colleen Planeta (SU), 1 – Sara Blicavs (SF)

Melbourne Boomers (66) defeated Adelaide Lightning (57)

A fast start by Melbourne Boomers helped the home side secure an important nine-point win at the State Basketball Centre yesterday. The Boomers needed to secure the points against fourth placed Adelaide Lightning in order to gain some breathing space in the top three, and also leapfrog UC Capitals in the process. They did just that, piling on 20 points to 13 in the opening term, then extended the lead with a 15-12 second quarter to head into half-time with a 10-point advantage. Adelaide fought back to cut the deficit to seven once again at the final change, before Melbourne regained the upper-hand and scored 16-14 in the last quarter to win, 66-57. Lindsay Allen was strong with 22 points, six rebounds, teaming well with Ezi Magbegor who picked up a double-double after 16 points, 10 rebounds and three assists. The Boomers shared court time across the board with 10 players getting a run on the court, and had contributions from Sophie Cunningham (seven points, four rebounds and three assists) and Kalani Purcell (nine points, four rebounds and two blocks). Adelaide had a couple of standouts once again, with both Brianna Turner and Stephanie Talbot picking up double doubles. Turner recorded 19 points, 11 rebounds and two blocks in the loss, while Talbot had 15 points, 10 rebounds, three assists and two blocks. Outside of the duo however, the next highest point-scorer was Nicole Seekamp with seven, as well as five assists and two rebounds, but also picked up nine turnovers. The loss meant the Lightning still marginally hold onto fourth spot ahead of the Flames, but only by a game.

DC Medal: 3 – Ezi Magbegor (MB), 2 – Lindsay Allen (MB),  1 – Brianna Turner (AL)

DC Medal Leaderboard:

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

2019/20 WNBL weekend preview: Round 10 – Flames and Fire need to ignite in pre-Christmas round

IN the final Women’s National Basketball League (WNBL) round prior to Christmas, there is plenty at stake for sides, with some last chances to stay in touch with the top four, and the opportunity for top sides to gain a vital advantage over title contenders heading into the new year.

BENDIGO SPIRIT vs. SYDNEY UNI FLAMES
Thursday, December 19, 7:00pm
Bendigo Stadium

In a standalone game in Bendigo on Thursday night, two bottom three sides battle it out in what could well be the last chance for these sides to remain in contention for a finals spot. The Spirit will travel up to Canberra the next day to take on the Capitals on Saturday, but will be keen to break their seven-game losing streak with a victory over Sydney Uni Flames. For the Flames, it will be about bouncing back from the disappointing loss to Townsville that resulted in the Flames slipping to sixth on the ladder. Now two and a half games from fourth, the Flames really need to win this one against the last placed side. In their one previous matchup this season, Sydney Uni got up in Bendigo by five points back on November 29. The Spirit hold a 2-4 record at home, while the Flames are only 1-6 when on the road. Bendigo has an even team across the board, with Carley Ernst having a big game last round, and now averaging 10.2 points and 6.2 rebounds, while Demi Skinner has shown she can come off the bench or play a role in the starting team, averaging 10.5 points and 3.2 rebounds this season. An important player who has been building nicely is Rebecca Tobin, with the forward-centre averaging a double-double of 8.3 points and 10.2 rebounds per game. For the Flames, Alice Kunek has been a scoring machine this season, averaging 17.2 points, 4.2 rebounds and 3.3 assists per game. American duo, Colleen Planeta (15.5 points, 7.2 rebounds) and Jessica Kuster (12.2 points, 6.6 rebounds) have both been prominent on the attack and off the boards for Sydney Uni. Bendigo has its best chance to win in some time, but Sydney Uni’s only win on the road came in Bendigo, so the Flames will be feeling confident.

 

UC CAPITALS vs. BENDIGO SPIRIT
Saturday, December 21, 5:00pm
National Convention Centre

Coming off the game against Sydney Uni, Bendigo heads to the nation’s capital to face the University of Canberra (UC) Capitals on Saturday evening. In the side’s only other clash this year back in Round 8, the Capitals got up comfortably by 25 points, 91-66. At home, the Capitals are near-unbeatable, losing their first game to ladder leaders, Southside Flyers last round and will be hungry to bounce back and add another win to their current 5-1 home record, the second best of any side this season. The Spirit are yet to win on the road, which does not bode well for the side, with Bendigo needing a massive effort to try and topple the reigning champions in this game. Some Bendigo players that will need to assist those who have been strong this season are guards Tessa Lavey (9.8 points, 3.4 rebounds and 4.3 assists) and Kelly Wilson (9.4 points, 3.7 rebounds and 6.3 assists), while American import, Marte Grays (6.8 points, 4.1 rebounds) is another one to keep an eye on. The Capitals have no shortage of talent on the roster, with the scoring machine in Kia Nurse (20.8 points, 3.6 rebounds and 2.7 assists) leading the way. The 2018/19 WNBL Most Valuable Player (MVP), Kelsey Griffin had a quiet game last round with just four points, but is averaging a double-double of 16.6 points and 11.4 rebounds per game. Keely Froling has enjoyed a mix of starting and coming off the bench this season, with 12.9 points and 6.5 rebounds, while Marianna Tolo has been one of the top centers this season, posting up 10.8 points and 6.2 rebounds from 10 games. The UC Capitals will head into the game as heavy favourites and one can only expect they come out on top in this one, especially with what is on the line. However, if Bendigo do not collect a win this round, a line can be put through the Spirit’s finals chances.

 

TOWNSVILLE FIRE vs. PERTH LYNX
Saturday, December 21, 6:00pm
Townsville Stadium

Heading north on Saturday night, Townsville Fire hosts Perth Lynx in a battle of two sides that grabbed relieving wins on the weekend just gone. Townsville got up over Sydney Uni, while Perth took down Melbourne Boomers. Now travelling to the other side of the country, the Lynx will hope to reverse the result from earlier in the season, when Townsville flew home with the points in a 93-88 win in Perth. At home, Townsville is two wins from five encounters, but Perth has proven to be even more shaky on the road with a 1-5 away record thus far this season. A win for Perth would see the Lynx move to within one and a half games of fourth spot, while a loss for Townsville would seemingly all but rule the Fire out of the finals race. A win however, and the Fire would draw level with Perth and only be points difference away from that fifth spot. Despite a quiet weekend last weekend, Abby Bishop has been the key player for the Fire, averaging 16.3 points, 7.3 rebounds, 3.3 assists and 2.3 steals per game. A couple of forwards who have really hit their straps over the past month are Darcee Garbin (14.3 points, 6.3 rebounds) and Bridget Carleton (11.5 points, 6.2 rebounds and 3.7 assists). Add in Tess Madgen (11.5 points, 6.2 rebounds and 3.7 assists) and the Fire have an underrated quartet of scorers. The Lynx also have an even spread across the board with some great depth on offer, but have been unlucky with many games just not falling their way. Alison Schwagmeyer continues to impress off the boards with 16.8 points and 6.6 rebounds per game, while Katie-Rae Ebzery is strong across all areas with 14.7 points, 4.2 rebounds, 4.9 assists and 1.3 steals per game. Imani McGee-Stafford failed to score last round, but put up double-digit rebounds, and has averaged 9.5 rebounds per game to accompany her 11.5 points. Lauren Mansfield is the other player flying under the radar, averaging 10.2 points, 3.1 rebounds and 4.6 assists per game. Perth will start favourites, but this game will go down to the wire.

 

SOUTHSIDE FLYERS vs. SYDNEY UNI FLAMES
Saturday, December 21, 7:00pm
Dandenong Stadium

After a game in Bendigo on Thursday night, Sydney Uni turns its attention to the ladder leaders and red-hot Southside Flyers who have only dropped one game in seven at home. The Flyers are yet to lose to anyone outside of the UC Capitals, and they even sought revenge on that debt owed with a win over the Capitals last weekend. The Flames on the other hand remain to look shaky, with last year’s wooden spooners having made noticeable improvement, but are still an outside chance of finals, needing to win at least one game this weekend to remain in the finals race realistically. Victory, and a loss to Adelaide Lightning the next day would move the Flames to within half a game of fourth spot, but a loss – or even worse two losses – and a win to the Lightning could see them drop back to a massive four and a half games behind. The Flyers have had a remarkable season, their first since the rebranding of the Dandenong Rangers. Mercedes Russell has been an overwhelming success, as the American import continues to dominate in center with 16.1 points and 9.9 rebounds per game. Rebecca Cole has proven to be a reliable scorer week-in, week-out averaging 16.0 points, 2.9 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 1.4 steals per game, while Sara Blicavs has averaged 6.5 rebounds to go with her 13.8 points. Add in Jenna O’Hea (14.4 points, 4.7 rebounds, 4.6 assists and 1.6 steals) and Leilani Mitchell (15.4 points, 3.8 rebounds, 5.7 assists and 1.3 steals), and the Flyers have an impeccable starting five. Every player in the starting side averages at least a steal per game, showing their willingness to run both ways and remain alert throughout the contest. For the Flames, they do have those impressive numbers from the likes of Planeta, Kuster and Kunek, while Alex Wilson (12.3 points, 3.4 rebounds and 4.5 assists) is another player continuing to play her role throughout the season. Forward-center, Lauren Scherf (6.4 points, 8.0 rebounds and 2.5 assists) is one who always causes headaches around the defensive boards. Southside Flyers will head in as strong favourites in this one, with the Flames’ task made all the more difficult by being on the road.

 

MELBOURNE BOOMERS vs. ADELAIDE LIGHTNING
Sunday, December 22, 5:00pm
State Basketball Centre

In the final game prior to Christmas, Melbourne Boomers will be keen for an early present with a victory over fourth placed Adelaide Lightning. After a loss on the road to Perth Lynx last weekend, Melbourne could maintain second spot with a victory here, though a loss would see them likely drop to third with the UC Capitals facing the bottom side in Bendigo Spirit. The stakes are just as high for Adelaide, a side that has been in some good form over November, sitting fourth, but almost on its own with two games adrift of the Capitals in third, and two and a half games clear of Perth in fifth. A win, and the Lightning ease the pressure on the chasing teams, as well as add pressure on the top three sides, but a loss would hurl them back to the mid-table logjam. At home, Melbourne is 4-2, while the Lightning is 2-3 on the road this season. The last time these side met, Melbourne got the win in South Australia by 14 points back on November 22. Cayla George has been instrumental for the Boomers this season, rarely playing a bad game and posting up 14.0 points, 9.3 rebounds, 3.9 assists, 1.5 steals and 1.6 blocks per game. George and her partner-in-crime in the blocks department, Ezi Magbegor (11.1 points, 5.3 rebounds and 1.2 blocks) deny the opposition scoring chances close to the basket. Lindsay Allen (15.9 points, 3.2 rebounds, 5.3 assists and 1.2 steals per game) is the leading scorer for the Boomers this season, while Madeleine Garrick (11.9 points, 3.7 rebounds, 2.1 assists and 1.6 steals) flies under the radar with solid performances. For the Lightning, the damaging duo of Stephanie Talbot (16.1 points, 8.0 points, 4.0 assists and 2.0 steals) and Brianna Turner (15.5 points, 10.2 rebounds, 1.2 steals and 1.8 blocks) were both phenomenal last round and gone to another level as the season has progressed. Lauren Nicholson is never far from the action, averaging 14.7 points, 3.0 rebounds and 2.4 assists, while Nicole Seekamp‘s playmaking ability (12.0 points, 3.4 rebounds, 7.3 assists and 1.1 steals) creates a point of difference within the side. Melbourne will be confident at home in this game, but Adelaide is known to cause upsets, and the Lightning could make a move to head into Christmas with a win on the board.

2019/20 WNBL weekend preview: Round 9 – Top three clash to end round on a high

A MASSIVE clash between Southside Flyers and University of Canberra Capitals on Sunday caps off a split round of Women’s National Basketball League (WNBL) action which sees the Flyers and Townsville Fire open the round on Friday night, then back up with second games. Plenty is on the line in the other games between Adelaide Lightning and Bendigo Spirit, and Perth Lynx and Melbourne Boomers.

SOUTHSIDE FLYERS v. TOWNSVILLE FIRE
Friday, December 13, 7.30pm
Dandenong Stadium

In the opening game of the round, top of the table Southside Flyers host bottom two side, Townsville Fire at Dandenong. The Fire leapt off the bottom of the table last round following a nice win over the now cellar dwellers, Bendigo Spirit by 14 points. The Fire had won just one of the eight games prior to that victory, and still remain with just two wins from nine games – the complete opposite to Southside enjoying a four-game winning streak for 10-1 ladder leaders. The matchup will be the third time these sides have clashed this year, and the Flyers have unsurprisingly won both, winning by nine points in Round 1 over the Fire, before completely taking control in the second game on November 23, scoring 91-59. Mercedes Russell will once again be a key player in the center for Southside, averaging 16.4 points and 10.1 rebounds per game and likely to be the difference on court. Leilani Mitchell (16.2 points and 6.0 assists) and Rebecca Cole (15.9 points and 3.8 assists) have been important in the guard positions for the favourites, while Townsville has had some strong individual performances from its forwards. Abby Bishop has been the shining light in season 2019/20 for the Fire, averaging 18.8 points, 7.5 rebounds, 3.1 assists and 2.4 steals per game. Darcee Garbin is coming off an impressive performance last week and will be hoping to add to her 12.7 points and 5.8 rebounds per game, and help Townsville cause a huge upset. Both these teams play a second game in Round 9 on Sunday in different states, so management will be key.

ADELAIDE LIGHTNING v. BENDIGO SPIRIT
Sunday, December 15, 1pm
Titanium Security Arena

Heading west to South Australia, the fourth placed Adelaide Lightning are narrowly clinging to a finals position at this point of the season, just one and a half games clear of Sydney Uni, and two and a half games clear of Perth and Townsville. Whilst it may seem comfortable, Adelaide is three games away from the top three, and had a couple more losses than any of the sides about it. Having left the door to the top four ajar with a loss to Sydney Uni last week, Adelaide must simply rebound with a victory at home against this season’s cellar dwellers. Bendigo dropped to the bottom of the table with a sixth consecutive loss last weekend, going down to previous ladder carriers, Townsville. With the equal most games played in the league at 11, Bendigo must find a way to flick the switch and make a run from this point, with its season on life support if a change does not happen soon. The positive for Bendigo is that one of its wins did come against Adelaide, getting up by 13 points earlier in the season, before going down by 28 points in a forgettable performance on the road. Stephanie Talbot has been a consistent player for the Lightning this year, posting up 16.0 points, 7.8 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 2.0 steals per game, sharing the load off the boards with Brianna Turner (14.8 points, 9.9 rebounds). Lauren Nicholson (15.2 points, 3.2 rebounds and 2.3 assists) has also been prominent as expected, while the introduction of Kathryn Westbeld (11.3 points, 5.0 rebounds) over the past three games has helped. The Spirit have one of the most even teams across the board, with no one standout player. Their highest scorer is Tessa Lavey, averaging just 10.7 points, as well as 3.6 rebounds and 4.5 assists per game. Kelly Wilson (9.6 points, 3.7 rebounds and 6.4 assists) and Rebecca Tobin (8.3 points, 10.0 rebounds and 2,0 assists) are others who have had some seriously dominant moments, but it is just piecing it all together.

PERTH LYNX v. MELBOURNE BOOMERS
Sunday, December 15, 1pm
Bendat Basketball Stadium

Continuing the trip west down the highway, Perth Lynx host Melbourne Boomers in Western Australia with last year’s finalists season slowly slipping away. The Lynx have to see this as a must-win, losing their past four games and winning just three from 11 to sit two and a half games adrift of fourth spot. The good news for Perth is, two of its wins have come at home, though it has hardly been a fortress, dropping three games at the same time. For the Boomers, the road trip holds no fears, recording four wins from five games when travelling and they only have to look to last week for form when Melbourne got up over Perth by nine points at the State Basketball Centre. The last time these two sides played in Perth was last season, when the Lynx got up by 14 points. Alison Schwagmeyer has been superb for the Lynx this year, averaging 16.9 points and 6.6 rebounds per game, teaming up well with fellow Americans Imani McGee-Stafford (13.8 points, 9.6 rebounds) and Ariel Atkins (9.7 points, 4.7 rebounds) when they played. Katie-Rae Ebzery has also been a reliable option at the guard position, averaging 14.5 points, 4.2 rebounds and 5.1 assists per game this season. The Boomers have had plenty of contributors across the list, with Cayla George being enormous as one of the bigs, averaging 14.0 points, 9.2 rebounds and 4.0 assists per game. Lindsay Allen (16.8 points, 3.4 rebounds and 5.5 assists) and Madeleine Garrick (12.5 points, 3.5 rebounds and 2.1 assists) are others

TOWNSVILLE FIRE v. SYDNEY UNI FLAMES
Sunday, December 15, 1pm
Townsville Stadium

In what will be Townsville’s second game of the round, the Fire will be hoping to burn brighter and faster than their opponents when Sydney Uni Flames come to town. Back-to-back wins for Townsville will be crucial in keeping the faint hope of finals alive, but it will be a tough ask given Sydney Uni have a top four spot on the line with a win. The points difference is too great to immediately leapfrog Adelaide Lightning into a finals position, but the Flames will need to win to keep touch with the top four given the Lightning also play the bottom of the table Bendigo Spirit. These two sides have only clashed the once thus far in season 2019/20 with Sydney Uni getting up by nine points at home on November 7. Last season when the Flames finished on the bottom, Townsville won all three head-to-head encounters and will hope to channel that energy for this game. Aside from Bishop’s impact and Garbin’s recent form, Tess Madgen (11.8 points, 5.9 rebounds and 3.8 assists) and Bridget Carleton (10.9 points, 5.1 rebounds) are the other two Fire players who average double-figure points this season. For the Flames, Alice Kunek averages a team-high 17.9 points per game as well as 4.1 rebounds and 3.5 assists. Colleen Planeta‘s best is as good as anyone else in the competition with the American posting up 16.4 points and 7.4 rebounds, slightly more than American teammate, Jessica Kuster. The forward has sank 12.6 points and 6.5 rebounds per game, but has shot at a deadly 60.2 per cent from the field. Sydney Uni will be favourites in this game, but Townsville has its season on the line in this clash.

UC CAPITALS v. SOUTHSIDE FLYERS
Sunday, December 15, 5pm
National Convention Centre (Canberra)

The best game has been saved until last with third placed University of Canberra (UC) Capitals hosting top of the table Southside Flyers in the nation’s capital on Sunday evening. The Capitals are the only side to have penetrated the otherwise unflappable defence of the Flyers, winning 91-72 on the road in one of the performances of the year. It gives the Capitals great confidence coming into this clash now they return home, while for Southside, there is perhaps further motivation on top of getting the win by levelling the two teams head-to-head for this season. The Capitals’ starting five is superb, and with the success that has come, they have started blooding some youngsters as well. Kia Nurse (21.6 points, 3.5 rebounds and 2.8 assists) is the key scorer, while Kelsey Griffin (17.9 points, 11.3 rebounds, 2.8 assists and 2.3 steals) is once again a Most Valuable Player (MVP) contender. Olivia Epoupa (8.1 points, 6.1 rebounds, 6.3 assists and 3.2 steals) is not a huge scorer but just contributes across all areas, while Gemma Potter has come off the bench every week gaining valuable minutes for future development. A couple of others for the Flyers who have been important up the forward end are Sara Blicavs (14.9 points, 6.6 rebounds) and Jenna O’Hea (14.6 points, 4.8 rebounds and 4.7 assists) rounding out a strong starting five with Russell, Mitchell and Cole, even with the bulk of the scoring only come from those players. The Capitals depth might see them turn the tables on Southside, and have a six-game winning streak themselves, but one thing is for sure, this game is going to be a cracker.

2019/20 WNBL Team of the Week: Round 8

IN an action-packed weekend of Women’s National Basketball League (WNBL) action, our Draft Central WNBL Team of the Week for Round 8 was difficult to pinpoint. Plenty of players, particularly in the guard position stood tall and produced some memorable individual performances, while a number of forwards also picked up big numbers. Overall, Adelaide Lightning, University of Canberra (UC) Capitals and Southside Flyers all had two players in our team, while Bendigo Spirit was the only side without a member in the 10-player team.

Adelaide’s Stephanie Talbot earned a coveted starting guard position with 22 points, 10 rebounds, three assists, three steals and 2.5 blocks in one of the top weekend’s of any player. She was joined in the team by teammate, Nicole Seekamp, while Lauren Nicholson was one of the more unlucky omissions. Also in the starting guard position was high volume shooter, Kia Nurse who poured on 32 points, three rebounds, three assists and one block, joined in the team by regular Team of the Week member, Kelsey Griffin. Starting in the center was Melbourne boomers’ Cayla George who earned the spot rather than a forward position because her effort of 15.0 points, 6.5 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 2.0 steals was too good to ignore.

Moving onto the starting forwards, Sydney University Flames’ Colleen Planeta and Townsville Fire’s Darcee Garbin had outstanding performances to be their team’s sole nominee in the Team of the Week, but also round out the starting side. Planeta scored 28 points, 12 rebounds, two blocks and one assist for the Flames, while Garbin finished with 27 points, seven rebounds, three assists and one steal for the Fire. Looking to the bench, Perth Lynx’s Imani McGee-Stafford was named in the guard spot, while Southside Flyers’ duo Mercedes Russell and Jenna O’Hea both make the side in the bench center and forward positions respectively.

Among the other unlucky players to miss out were Melbourne’s Madeleine Garrick and Lindsay Allen, Southside’s Leilani Mitchell and Sara Blicavs, Sydney Uni’s Alice Kunek, Bendigo’s Tessa Lavey, Townsville’s Tess Madgen and UC Capitals’ Marianna Tolo who all came into consideration for a spot in the side.

STARTING FIVE:

G: Stephanie Talbot (AL) – 22.0 points, 10.0 rebounds, 3.0 assists, 3.0 steals, 2.5 blocks, 41.7 FG%
G: Kia Nurse (UC) – 32 points, 3 rebounds, 3 assists, 0 steals, 1 block, 57.9 FG%
C: Cayla George (MB) – 15.0 points, 6.5 rebounds, 3.5 assists, 2.0 steals, 0.5 blocks, 40.6 FG%
F: Colleen Planeta (SU) – 28 points, 12 rebounds, 1 assist, 0 steals, 2 blocks, 55.0 FG%
F: Darcee Garbin (TF) – 27 points, 7 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 steal, 0 blocks, 68.8 FG%

BENCH:

G: Nicole Seekamp (AL) – 10.0 points, 5.5 rebounds, 7.5 assists, 1.0 steals, 0.5 blocks, 36.3 FG%
G: Imani McGee-Stafford (PL) – 12.5 points, 11.0 rebounds, 1.5 assists, 0.5 steals, 0.0 blocks, 42.9 FG%
C: Mercedes Russell (SF) – 14 points, 9 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals, 3 blocks, 50.0 FG%
F: Kelsey Griffin (UC) – 15 points, 12 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals, 0 blocks, 66.7 FG%
F: Jenna O’Hea (SF) – 22 points, 2 rebounds, 6 assists, 3 steals, 0 blocks, 50.0 FG%

WNBL Round 8 review: Southside edges out Boomers in top-of-the-table clash

THE top-of-the-table Southside Flyers put distance between themselves and the second seeded Boomers, after edging out Melbourne by seven points in Dandenong, extending their winning streak to four. In terms of streaks, the Capitals increased their winning streak to six and Townsville snapped their losing streak of three games without captain Micaela Cocks, while losses by Perth and Bendigo lengthened their losing streaks to four and six.

Bendigo Spirit (66) defeated by UC Capitals (91)

The opening game of Round 8 saw the WNBL’s most and least in-form teams go head to head in Ballarat, as the Spirit were sporting a four-game losing streak and the Capitals stringing together five consecutive victories prior to Friday’s encounter. From the outset however, it was the Capitals that controlled the game, leading at every break and dominating in all facets of the game. UC took control on the boards as well, earning 10 more total rebounds compared to the Spirit which then transferred to a good scoring output from their starting five. Most impressively, scoring came from Kia Nurse who scored numbers in bunches, finishing with 32 points whilst shooting 7-10 from three-point range. She was assisted by Kelsey Griffin who put a double-double with 15 points and 12 rebounds, alongside Marianna Tolo and her 16 points. For the struggling Spirit, only three players managed to crack double digits with Tessa Lavey (17), Shyla Heal (15) and Gabrielle Richards (14) combining for most of Bendigo’s scoring. Nevertheless, the Capitals ran away with the game by 25 points extending their winning streak to six games hot on the heels of the Melbourne Boomers who sit second in the standings. Another loss was added to Bendigo’s record extending their streak to five with their next contest to come a couple days later against the Townsville Fire.

DC Medal: 3 – Kia Nurse (UC), 2 – Kelsey Griffin (UC), 1 – Olivia Epoupa (UC)

Adelaide Lightning (79) defeated Perth Lynx (69)

After suffering back-to-back losses for the first time this season, the Adelaide Lighting were looking to reclaim the title of victor against the Perth Lynx who were in the midst of a similar situation. Both clubs fought hard in what was a battle of strengths and weaknesses as Adelaide punished Lynx inside the key and Perth showed off their prowess from the perimeter. In the end it was the consistency of baskets from close range that won out as Brianna Turner compiled 24 points, 13 rebounds, five steals and five blocks as she put on her best performance of the season so far. With the help of Lauren Nicholson and her 21 points, the Lightning were able to pull away from Perth and earn the first victory of their double-header weekend, while also handing the Lynx their third consecutive loss. Performances worth noting from Perth entailed Imani McGee-Stafford’s double-double (14 points and 11 assists) as well as Katie Ebzery’s respectable 18-point performance where she shot 70 per cent from the field.

DC Medal: 3 – Stephanie Talbot (AL), 2 – Lauren Nicholson (AL), 1 – Nicole Seekamp (AL)

Southside Flyers (89) defeated Melbourne Boomers (82)

The Round 8 game of the week took place in Melbourne’s South-East as the league’s top teams did battle at Dandenong Stadium. Both the Southside Flyers and the Melbourne Boomers were enjoying sizeable winning streaks leading into their Saturday night clash, with both teams knowing that one of them had to end. Both sides shot the ball well and when shots did not fall, both the Flyers and Boomers were there to grab their misses. The main difference between the sides came down to free-throws, as the Flyers went 22-23 from the line compared to the Boomers who only managed 7-9. This combined with the Flyers elite starting five’s performance, enabled Southside to continue their winning streak to four games, whilst being the first team to reach ten victories and snap the Boomers’ three game winning streak in the process. Southside’s starting side combined for 83 of their 89 points, led by Jenna O’Hea who notched up 22 points and six assists in her side’s victory. Melbourne’s Cayla George was the Boomers’ leading points getter, while also grabbing eight total rebounds. Despite the loss, Melbourne needed to readjust quickly, as they had to take care of a Perth Lynx squad that was also keen for a bounce back win only 24 hours later.

DC Medal: 3 – Jenna O’Hea (SF), 2 – Cayla George (MB), 1 – Sara Blicavs (SF)

Sydney Uni Flames (81) defeated Adelaide Lightning (69)

After Adelaide’s hard-fought win over Perth on Friday night they had their sights set on going two games clear of .500, but in their way were the Sydney Uni Flames who needed to claw their way back into top four contention and a win against the fourth seed itself would be a good first step in achieving that. Colleen Planeta was once again the go-to woman as she dominated around the basket racking up 28 points and 12 rebounds, which was further bolstered by Alice Kunek’s 21 points. The performance by the duo helped facilitate the Flames to halt the Lightning’s intentions and finish off the game with a convincing 12-point triumph. Key scorers for the visiting Lightning were Brianna Turner, who accumulated 19 points as well as seven rebounds and Stephanie Talbot, who put up 18 points and seven rebounds. The Lightning’s loss put them back on a .500 record at five wins and five losses, whereas Sydney Uni now trail the Lightning in the standings by a game and a half as a result of Sunday’s victory.

DC Medal: 3 – Colleen Planeta (SU), 2 – Alice Kunek (SU), 1 – Stephanie Talbot (AL)

Townsville Fire (94) defeated Bendigo Spirit (80)

The Townsville Fire who had up until Sunday, only won one of its opening eight games this season, looked to break that trend and come out victorious at home against the only other team in the competition that was performing worse than themselves, the Bendigo Spirit. With the Fire coming out successful in areas such as field goal percentage, assists and points from turnovers, Townsville was able to capitalise on their opportunities in front of their home crowd, which was desperate for a win. Led by Darcee Garbin, who finished with 27 points and seven rebounds, the Townsville Fire were able to hold off Bendigo for their second win of the season, winning the bout by double-digits. Despite Bendigo succumbing to their ninth loss on the season and cementing their place on the bottom on the ladder, Demi Skinner managed to take 26 points away from the contest. Townsville now hold a record of two wins and seven losses.

DC Medal: 3 – Darcee Garbin (TF), 2 – Tess Madgen (T), 1 – Tessa Lavey (BS)

Melbourne Boomers (72) defeated Perth Lynx (63)

The Boomers were at-risk of slipping to third place behind the UC Capitals who had just won against Bendigo, so the home side knew of the increased importance of the contest. It was a scrappy contest with both sides failing to gain the upper hand early on. Individual performances, points from turnovers and calm nerves from the free throw line proved to be some of the separating statistics in the final game of the round with the Boomers holding the upper hand. Melbourne would outscore the Lynx 18-10 from the line, which would be critical in the side’s nine-point victory over Perth, retaining their rank as second on the WNBL Ladder, trailing only the team that had defeated them the day before. The individual performances from Madeleine Garrick and Sophie Cunningham who both finished with 17 and 15 points each helped to get the Boomers over the line to notch up their eighth win for the season. Garrick was accurate from the free-throw line nailing five from six. McGee-Stafford collected her second double-double for the weekend as she totalled 11 points and 11 rebounds alongside Alison Schwagmeyer who was the Lynx’s top-scorer with 13. The two losses for Perth over the weekend extended their losing streak to four, as they sit a game above Townsville in sixth place.

DC Medal: 3 – Madeleine Garrick (MB), 2 – Imani McGee-Stafford (PL), 1 – Lindsay Allen (MB)

DC Medal Leaderboard:

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

2019/20 WNBL weekend preview: Round 8 – Ladder defining clashes to impact WNBL

ROUND 8 of the Women’s National Basketball League (WNBL) will be yet another big one with Southside Flyers looking to continue their hot form and keep their margin out in front with the Melbourne Boomers hot on their tail in terms of ladder position. Meanwhile up the other end Townsville Fire will be hoping to reverse their recent form and get a win on the board.

Bendigo Spirit vs University of Canberra Capitals

After a close Friday night loss for the Bendigo Spirit, now pushing their losing streak to five, Kelly Wilson and the Spirits are hoping to turn things around against the firing Canberra Capitals who are coming off an impressive four game win streak. But this game might not be as won and done as the WNBL ladder might suggest with the Capitals well aware that the Bendigo Spirit give their all and are no easy task to take down. This will be a memorable game for the Capitals as they get to go up against their championship point guard from last season, Wilson. Former school teacher and WNBL legend played for the Canberra Capitals for a historic six seasons and will be familiar with the Capitals playbook and style leading to exciting matchup. 

The Spirit will be looking to the likes of Wilson along with Marte Grays to lead the way in attack and hit the scoreboard while Abigail Wehrung can also have an impact when on court thanks to her accuracy from the three-point range. But the Capitals are just as littered with key players across the court in the likes of Kia Nurse who has had no issue finding the net and is their leading points scorer. Kelsey Griffin and Keely Froling are also instrumental across the court able to get back defensively and attack the scoreboard with their exciting style of play.

Adelaide Lighting vs Perth Lynx

Both teams are coming off a loss to the Southside flyers, meaning the clash between Adelaide Lighting and Perth Lynx will be an incredibly competitive match up on Friday night. Both teams have lost three of the last five matches, and are sitting next to each other on the ladder in third and fourth spot respectively. They have most productive scorers in the entire league in Crystal Langhorne (Adelaide Lighting) and Alison Schwagmeyer (Perth Lynx), making for a must watch game. While the Lynx were to say at the least embarrassed by the Flyers, as opposed to the close ending between the Lighting and Flyers, the Lynx were coming off two games the previous round and will definitely be well rested for this cut throat game. 

Everyone will be watching the matchup at the forward position between Schwagmeyer and Kathyrn Westbeld who only recently joined Adelaide. It will be interesting to watch if Westbeld can clamp Belger and hold her to single digits like she has done to many other WNBL superstars. However the Perth Lynx are more than competent in the defensive end, holding the top two players in blocks per game in Imani McGee-Stafford (2.3 BPG) and Maddison Allen (2.2 BPG). These twin towers will make it difficult for Langhorne to get to the basket, but may struggle to stop her as she is an elite three-point shooter who is yet to miss a single three this season. Additionally, Stephanie Talbot could have another great game as she is coming off a 25 points, two assists, eight rebound night. 

Southside Flyers vs Melbourne Boomers

Although it is still early in the season, the urgency and importance of getting a ‘W’ after this clash is fully understood by both teams because this just might be a preview of the grand final. Southside Flyers and Melbourne Boomers, both sit first and second on the ladder and the rivalry will once again be ignited with no fan certain of the outcome given the closeness and similarity of both sides. These two juggernauts have met before, in Round 4 in Dandenong with Southside coming out on top by just seven points. To make that more impressive, they did this coming off a back to back round.

However while Southside have five players averaging over 13 points a game, they still lack depth, something Guy Mollow, coach of the Melbourne Boomers, can exploit. The last time these two teams battled, the Flyers only had six players to put points on the board. While this is definitely not worth panicking over, as they do hover at the top of the WNBL ladder with only one loss, come finals, what can be seen as trivial factors can be the exact one percenters that cost them the win or loss. Being a two time WNBL coach of the year, it will be interesting seeing what adjustments Mollow makes to exhaust the Flyers main players, forcing them to rely more heavily on their less offensively gifted bench. Mercedes Russell is a scoring machine for the Flyers along with Rebecca Cole and Leilani Mitchell who are both known for their prolific shooting. But the Boomers are not to be out done with the likes of Cayla George and Lindsay Allen forming a damaging duo. 

Sydney Uni Flames vs Adelaide Lighting

Coming off their second game of Round 8, the Adelaide Lighting are set to host the Sydney Uni Flames in what will be an exciting contest. With just one spot between the two with the Lighting at the fourth seed and the Flames at the sixth, and now halfway through the WNBL season, every game matters in terms of finals and this is no different. Both teams have been on rocky roads recently, winning two of their last five match ups and are hoping to turn things around against similarly talented competition. Having already played in the very first match to commence the 2020 WNBL season, obviously the two teams are now much different having improved in different ways. But the main takeaway from that game was clearly Lauren Schref pulling down a whopping 17 rebounds along with Colleen Planeta dropping 30 points, both for the Uni Flames, yet their commendable efforts still did not result in the win. 

However this game is too far back to be used as data to predict a winner as the Uni Flames are not reliant on these two players dropping figures like that to win (although it does not hurt). Instead the Flames are reliant on being a high volume, high percentage shooting team. Similarly, the Adelaide Lighting are counting on shooting a lot of two point shots, close to the paint. This is mostly due to Langhorne leading the league in rebounds and second in points with dynamic duo partner Nicole Seekamp dishing the rock and leading the league in assists. 

Townsville Fire v. Bendigo Spirit

In a bottom of the ladder clash the Townsville Fire will be hoping to improve their season and get another win on the board while in their second game of the round, the Spirit will be aiming to make it two from two and put their opponents away early. Both sides have been relatively inconsistent but have shown that they can match it with the best pushing sides to their limit making for an enthralling match-up. Both sides are relatively even across the court but given it is the second game of the round for Bendigo, Townsville should try and capitalise on their fatigue and pile the pressure on.

The Fire will be looking to the likes of Abby Bishop to lead the way thanks to her ability to find the basket with ease and cause havoc from anywhere across the court. Tess Madgen is also another crucial member for Townsville able to hit the scoreboard as well as dish off crafty assists thanks to her vision and general basketball nous. Darcee Garbin is another one that can hit the scoreboard while also being able to do the defensive things well in particular her rebounding ability. For the Spirit their second tier players will have to lift their game to help out the likes of Wilson and Carley Ernst.

Melbourne Boomers v. Perth Lynx

This game will bring plenty of excitement with the second placed Boomers playing host to the fifth placed Perth Lynx who will be hopping to leapfrog up the ladder and stay in contention for a top four spot. The Boomers have only lost two games for the season compared to Lynx who have dropped six showcasing Melbourne’s ability to prevail in close contests. Both teams will be faced with their second game of the round making it imperative for each side to make the most of their chances when pushing forward.

The Boomers have a plethora of players that can stand up under pressure when the heat is on, especially scoring machine Allen, but youngster Ezi Magbegor is an exciting prospect. Magbegor oozes class thanks to her point scoring ability and strength defensively to pick up the rebound. Monique Conti is another one that is renowned for her ability to pop and have an impact while Madeleine Garrick is accurate from three-point region. Perth’s Schwagmeyer is their most influential player often touted as the barometer and will have to have a big one if her side is to get over the line against the second placed Boomers. Katie Ebzery is a prolific points scorer working in tandem with Schwagmeyer while Ariel Atkins is handy off the bench.