Tag: demi skinner

NBL1 South women’s wrap: Round 5

BENDIGO Braves managed to end the winning streak of one side in the Eltham Wildcats over the weekend, but fell short of inflicting the same fate on another one in Frankston Blues, in what was a huge National Basketball League (NBL)1 weekend of action.

Hobart Chargers (84) def. Diamond Valley Eagles (68)

Opening the round up on the Apple Isle, Hobart Chargers claimed a 16-point victory over Diamond Valley Eagles in a battle of two winless sides. The Eagles actually led at half-time by four points, but a dominant second half in favour of the Chargers – which saw them storm home 48-28 – resulted in the home team winning 84-68. Ellie Collins lead the way with 34 points – five of 11 from long-range – 11 rebounds, six assists, two steals and two blocks. Madeleine Garrick (23 points, five rebounds, five steals and three assists) also stood out, while Tayla Roberts (11 points, three rebounds and three assists) hit double-figure points. Hayley Sparks (19 points, five rebounds and two steals), Imogen Rock (12 points, seven rebounds) and Olivia Bontempelli (10 points, five assists and three rebounds) were among the top-scoring Eagles on the night.

Geelong Supercats (90) def. Melbourne Tigers (82)

The Geelong Supercats managed to breakaway from the Melbourne Tigers in the third term to secure a 90-82 win. The teams were even at half-time, but a 24-11 third quarter in favour of the Supercats put the momentum firmly in favour of Geelong, and whilst the Tigers cut the deficit back by five points, they fell by eight points. Sarah Elsworthy (25 points, eight rebounds, six assists and two steals) scored the most points in the match, while Alex Duck (18 points, seven rebounds, three assists and three steals), Rebekah O’Donnell (15 points, five rebounds and three assists), Stephanie Blicavs (15 points, six assists, four rebounds and three steals) and Antoinette Emma-Nnopu (12 points, 11 rebounds and two blocks) all combined for some big numbers. Zitina Aokuso almost recorded a triple-double of 20 points, 10 rebounds, eight assists, three blocks and two steals, with Monique Conti (22 points, four rebounds, four assists and two steals) and Isabella Brancatisano (14 points, two steals) also busy for the visitors.

Bendigo Braves (70) def. Eltham Wildcats (63)

A one-sided first term has aided Bendigo Braves in holding off a fierce Eltham Wildcats outfit and handing the Wildcats their first loss of the NBL1 South season. The Braves piled on 28-8 in the opening term to bolt out to a 20-point lead, but then the Wildcats picked up the slack over the next two quarters, including a 24-9 third term to come within one point at the final break. A 17-11 last quarter saw the Braves secure the 70-63 victory. Tess Madgen (23 points, nine rebounds and five assists) did not spend a minute on the bench in a tireless effort the Braves, while Piper Dunlop (14 points, 13 rebounds and two steals) and Kate Oliver (12 points, 11 rebounds, three assists and three blocks) both picked up double-doubles. Tess Heal (22 points, eight rebounds and two steals) top-scored, whilst Anneli Maley dominated off the boards for the Wildcats with 27 rebounds, though was inaccurate from the field, shooting two of 12.

Dandenong Rangers (63) def. by Frankston Blues (78)

Frankston Blues became the first side to win six consecutive games, downing Dandenong Rangers by 15 points on the road. Trailing by three points at quarter time, the Blues found their groove in the second term scoring 23-13 to lead by seven at the main break. Frankston also won the last two quarter by four points each to win by 15, 78-63. Darcee Garbin (27 points, nine rebounds and three steals) and Tessa Lavey (22 points, 13 assists, five rebounds and three steals) were the dominant duo once again for the winners, while Ella Batish had seven points, seven rebounds and two assists. Alison Downie (16 points, six rebounds and two assists), Tenaya Sooalo (13 points, seven rebounds and three assists) and Emilee Harmon (12 points, eight rebounds) were the three key Rangers.

Kilsyth Cobras (70) def. by Nunawading Spectres (90)

The Nunawading Spectres leapfrogged Kilsyth Cobras on the NBL1 South ladder with an impressive 20-point victory on the road. The Spectres dominated the first quarter to race out to a 10-point lead, and doubled down in the third term with a 23-8 quarter. Nunawading managed to reduce the final damage by winning the last stanza, but it was still a sizeable 90-70 defeat. Rachel Antoniadou (28 points, 10 rebounds and five assists) was the dominant scorer for the winners, whilst Louise Brown (10 points, 14 rebounds) picked up a double-double, and Izzy Wright (13 points, six rebounds and three assists) was also strong. Carly Turner (15 points, four steals, two rebounds and two assists) lead the points tally for the Cobras, while Lauren Scherf (10 points, 11 rebounds), and Tia Hay (12 points, seven rebounds and five assists) were equally as busy across the court.

Albury-Wodonga Bandits (64) def. by Waverley Falcons (81)

Waverley Falcons produced an impressive 17-point victory over Albury-Wodonga Bandits, coming from a nine-point quarter time deficit to win in emphatic style. After the 24-15 term in favour of the Bandits, the Falcons won the next three quarters by nine, five and 12 points to win 81-64. Kelly Bowen scored a match-high 21 points, as well as 12 rebounds, whilst Renae Mokrzycki also had a double-double of 12 points and 18 rebounds, and Aneta Bandilovska (17 points, four rebounds and two assists) also contributed to the score ticking over. Emma Mahady’s monstrous season rolled on with a huge double-double of 20 points, 15 rebounds, three assists and two steals for the Bandits, while Brodie-Paige Theodore (20 points, four rebounds and two steals) and Jade McCowan (10 points, six rebounds) also notched up double-figure points.

Ringwood Hawks (67) def. Ballarat Rush (50)

Ringwood Hawks won the battle of the two-win sides, defeating Ballarat Rush at home by 17 points, The Hawks got off to a terrific start to lead by 11 points at quarter time, and whilst the second and fourth terms were fairly even, the Hawks beat the Rush by seven points in the third term for an overall 67-50 win. Funda Nakkasoglu (20 points, three assists) lead the way, dropping four of nine from long-range, whilst Marena Whittle (eight points, 12 rebounds, four steals ad two assists) and Demi Skinner (nine points, five rebounds) were also busy. Kasey Burton was the only double-digit scorer for the Rush with 13, as well as 10 rebounds and two steals, whilst Alicia Froling came close to a double-double of nine points, 12 rebounds and four assists in the loss.

Mt Gambier Pioneers (40) def. by Knox Raiders (69)

Two teams at opposite ends of the ladder produced a match of a predictable outcome, with the undefeated Knox Raiders winning their fifth game, and handing the Mt Gambier Pioneers their sixth straight loss. Klara Wischer stood out with 15 points, nine rebounds, five steals and three assists, as Kara Tessari (16 points, three rebounds) and Kiera Rowe (13 points, two rebounds and two steals) also impressed with double-digit points. Jasmine Howe (nine points, five steals and three rebounds) and Sherrie Calleia (nine points, four assists and two steals) both top-scored for their side, whilst Hannah Young racked up 13 rebounds and two steals to go with six points in the loss.

Launceston Tornadoes (103) def. Diamond Valley Eagles (74)

Launceston Tornadoes put together a dominant four-quarter performance to blow away Diamond Valley Eagles by 29 points in the Eagles’ second loss of the round down in Tasmania. Led by an outrageous effort from Keely Froling, the Tornadoes took control from the get-go and powered to a 20-point half-time lead. Whilst the Eagles did managed to break even in the final term, the Tornadoes had already done the damage in the first three quarters. Froling finished with a competition season-high 52 points – 17 of 30 from the field – as well as 26 rebounds – 17 defensive – five assists and four steals. Mariah Payne (26 points, 12 assists and five rebounds) picked up a double-double, while D’Asia Chambers (15 points, four assists, four steals and three assists) also hit double-figure points. Bontempelli topped the points for the Eagles with 20, as well as four assists and two steals, while Sophie Burrows (16 points, three rebounds, three assists and two steals) and Ashleigh McBean (12 points, six rebounds) were among the other top performers for the losers.

Eltham Wildcats (83) def. Sandringham Sabres (80)

Bouncing back from the loss the day before, Eltham Wildcats won in a thriller over Sandringham Sabres yesterday. The Wildcats trailed by three points at quarter time, then piled on the pressure to lead by five at the main break. After breaking even in the third quarter, the Sabres won the last quarter 25-23 to come close, but fall short, 83-80. Maley was unstoppable again, picking up 17 points and 24 rebounds – 20 defensive – three assists and two blocks, while Heal (18 points, three assists) and Rebecca Pizzey (18 points, nine rebounds and four assists) both troubled the scorers plenty in the win. Jenna O’Hea played her best game o the season thus far, picking up 30 points – four of eight from long-range – 10 rebounds, five steals, two assists and two blocks. Amy O’Neill (16 points, nine rebounds, eight assists and three steals) and Rachel Jarry (16 points, five rebounds and two assists) also notched up double-figure points in the narrow loss.

Melbourne Tigers (77) def. Dandenong Rangers (70)

In a battle of two Saturday losers, Melbourne Tigers got up by seven points on Sunday in what was a tight contest. The Tigers skipped out to an eight-point lead at half-time, and whilst the Rangers cut that back to seven by the final break, fell 77-70. Both Aokuso (13 points, 15 rebounds and five assists) and Brancatisano (11 points, 11 rebounds, two assists and two steals) picked up double-doubles in the win, as Conti (18 points, five assists, four steals and three rebounds) top scored once again for the Tigers. Dallas Loughridge had the 20 points, six rebounds and three assists to lead the way for the Rangers, ahead of Sherry Glennie (12 points, seven rebounds and two assists) and Makaela Zeldenryk (10 points, three assists) who also hit double-figure points.

Frankston Blues (74) def. Bendigo Braves (64)

Frankston Blues won another game to make it seventh heaven, defeating Bendigo Braves who were coming off a spirited win over Eltham Wildcats. The Blues won every quarter in what was a tight contest, to take home the 10-point win, 74-64. Lavey finished with 20 points, five rebounds, five assists and two steals, while Garbin had 13 points, 12 rebounds, three assists, two steals and two locks. Saraid Taylor (12 points, seven rebounds and two assists) and Taylah Gilliam (15 points, four rebounds and two assists) were the other two key points scorers. The Braves were led by Oliver (19 points, 10 rebounds, three assists and three blocks), Cassidy McLean (12 points, six assists and three rebounds) and Abigail Wehrung (16 points, four assists and two steals).

Picture credit: NBL1

2021 NBL1 South Women’s wrap: Round 3

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Picture credit: Ian Knight Photography

NBL1 South Womens: Round 2 wrap – Blues standalone with 3-0 record

FRANKSTON Blues stand alone as the only side to record three wins so far in the 2021 National Basketball League (NBL)1 South women’s competition, as the results played out over the weekend. We recap how each of the games went down and who the top performers were with some one-sided results.

Bendigo Braves (70) def. by Frankston Blues (76)

The first of two wins for the weekend for the Blues saw them claim a narrow six-point victory over Bendigo Braves in a come-from-behind triumph. The Braves raced out to a 21-9 lead at quarter time after a dominant first term, with the Blues clawing their way back to within six points at the final break, before slamming on 24-12 in the last quarter to win, 76-70. Darcee Garbin was again a prolific scorer for the Blues, adding 23 points, 11 rebounds, four assists and three blocks in a standout performance. She teamed up well with Tessa Lavey (14 points, eight rebounds, eight assists and two steals) and Taylah Gilliam (14 points, four rebounds). For the Braves, Abigail Wehrung nailed 24 points, four rebounds, three assists and two blocks, though it was Tess Madgen who came agonisingly close to a triple-double of 16 points, nine rebounds, nine assists and three steals. Piper Dunlop (11 points, six rebounds and three assists) and Kate Oliver (10 points, seven rebounds and four assists) were both impressive for the losers.

Hobart Chargers (61) def. by Ballarat Rush (62)

A two-pointer from Ballarat Rush’s Kasey Burton in the final 30 seconds – and a missed three-point attempt from Hobart Chargers’ Madeleine Garrick helped the Rush grab a one-point thrilling victory at Kingborough Sports Centre. The visitors trailed by five at quarter time, led by one and then four at the next two breaks, then were caught by the Chargers, only to win at the death. Burton had an equal team-high 13 points, as well as six rebounds, but it was the amazing effort of Alicia Froling (10 points, 20 rebounds and five assists) that stood out, while Kristy Rinaldi (seven points, 13 rebounds) also dominated off the boards. Annie Collins had the 13 points and two rebounds to equal Burton on the scoring front. For the Chargers, Garrick finished with a double-double of 19 points – including five of 11 from long-range – and 10 rebounds, while Ellie Collins had 16 points and 15 rebounds in an equally amazing effort. Tayla Roberts came close to a double-double herself picking up 16 points and nine rebounds.

Frankston Blues (78) def. Dandenong Rangers (75)

It was billed as the match of the round, and it certainly lived up to expectations with Frankston Blues moving to 3-0 for the NBL1 South season, defeating Dandenong Rangers by three points. The teams traded blows throughout the match, though the Blues led by 11 points at the final break, before Dandenong hit back with a 23-15 final quarter to get within three points, but fall short, 78-75. Garbin had another outstanding game with 30 points – four of 10 from long-range – and eight assists, while Lavey picked up 18 points, eight rebounds and eight assists in the win. Gililam (13 points, three rebounds and four assists) and Saraid Taylor (seven points, 10 rebounds and three assists) were others who stood out. For the Ranges, Gemma Potter was on fire with six triples leading to her 28 points, as well as five rebounds and two assists. Emilee Harmon (23 points, 11 rebounds, two assists and two steals) and Tenaya Sooalo (16 points, three rebounds, three assists and two blocks) were also busy.

Knox Raiders (82) def. Kilsyth Cobras (70)

Knox Raiders proved too strong for Kilsyth Cobras in their clash at the State Basketball Centre, winning three of the four quarters to post a 12-point win at home. The teams were fairly even at half-time after counter-contrasting first and second terms, with Kilsyth leading by one point. Knox piled on 24-14 after half-time to set up the win, then held on in the final term for the 82-70 victory. Klara Wischer was the star for the Raiders, picking up a double-double of 18 points and 12 rebounds, as well as three steals and two assists. Marianna Tolo (14 points, seven rebounds) and Kiera Rowe (12 points, five rebounds and four assists) were also busy in the match among a host of other contributors. Lauren Scherf stood tall for the Cobras with 20 points, 10 rebounds and five assists, notching up a double-double while Briahna Whatman (145 points, five assists and three rebounds) and Carly Turner (five points, 10 rebounds and three assists) were also productive.

Sandringham Sabres (72) def. Mt Gambier Pioneers (70)

Sandringham Sabres survived a thriller with a two-point win over the cross-border Mt Gambier Pioneers on Saturday evening. The Sabres held a narrow lead early, and extended it out to as much as 13 points by the final break, before the Pioneers hit back with a massive fourth quarter. The 29-18 term in favour of the visitors would not be enough however, as the Sabres triumphed 72-70. Jenna O’Hea had 27 points, six rebounds and five assists in the win for the Sabres, leading the way from Rachel Jarry (14 points, six rebounds and two steals), Cassandra Hill (10 points, four rebounds, two assists and two steals) and Amy O’Neill (eight points, six rebounds and two assists). For the Pioneers, Hannah Young racked up an important double-double of 17 points, 10 rebounds and two steals, while Jasmine Howe (15 points, six rebounds) and Shakera Reilly (11 points, eight rebounds) also stood up on both the scoring and rebounding fronts.

Eltham Wildcats (84) def. Diamond Valley Eagles (52)

Eltham Wildcats made it two from two this season in the NBL1 South competition, dominating the Diamond Valley Eagles to win by 32 points. The Wildcats won by nine, seven, nine and seven points in each of the respective four quarters during the 84-52 victory. Anneli Maley had a ridiculous 29 rebounds – 20 defensive – to be unbeatable off the boards, as well as pick up 21 points, two assists two steals. Rebecca Pizzey (11 points, seven rebounds and three blocks), Shelby Britten (16 points, four assists, three rebounds and three steals) were also impressive as Chloe Hilderbrand (10 points, five rebounds and four assists) and Tess Heal (10 points, six rebounds, two assists and two steals) also hit double-figure points. In a disappointing loss for the Eagles, Teah Reichert picked up a double-double with 11 points and 12 rebounds, while Imogen Rock (12 points, five steals) and Sophie Burrows (seven points, six rebounds) tried hard.

Albury-Wodonga Bandits (68) def. by Melbourne Tigers (116)

Melbourne Tigers were on from the first tip-off as they completely dismantled Albury-Wodonga Bandits in a dominant 48-point win. Storming to a 31-13 lead at quarter time, the Tigers lost the second term by three, but then piled on the points in the second half with 62 points to 29 to run out 116-68 victors. Monique Conti impressed with 28 points, six assists and three steals, teaming up brilliantly with fellow WNBL talent Zitina Aokuso (18 points, eight rebounds, four assists, three steals and two blocks) doing it all. Isabella Brancatisano (25 points, six rebounds, eight assists and seven steals) was arguably the best on the court, while Melissa Prior (17 points, six rebounds) was also outstanding in the win. The Bandits were led by Emma Mahady (24 points, five rebounds), while Jade McCowan (15 points, three rebounds) and Brodie-Paige Theodore (12 points) reached double-figure points in the loss.

Melbourne Tigers’ Monique Conti puts up a shot. Picture credit: NBL1

Ringwood Hawks (84) def. Geelong Supercats (55)

Bouncing back from a Round 1 loss, Ringwood Hawks proved too much for Geelong Supercats, running out 29-point victors at The Rings on Saturday evening. The Hawks won the first two quarters to stamp their authority on the match and lead by 20 points at the half, before Geelong edged back one point, only for Ringwood to go again and score 22-12 in the final term a for a 84-55 victory. Marena Whittle had a night out with 20 points and 13 rebounds, as well as six assists and two blocks. Funda Nakkasoglu (16 points, four rebounds, three assists and three steals), Hope Terdich (13 points, six rebounds) and Demi Skinner (12 points, four rebounds) also stepped up in the win. For the Supercats, Stephanie Blicavs knocked down 17 points, along with three rebounds and two assists, while Aimee Clydesdale was the other prominent scorer with 11 points and five rebounds in the loss.

Launceston Tornadoes (92) def. Ballarat Rush (61)

Launceston Tornadoes have stormed to a dominant 31-point win over Ballarat Rush to go 2-0 this season, with Keely Froling picking up another huge double-double against her sister. The Tornadoes never looked like losing, winning the first half by 23 points, then the second half by another eight to secure the 92-61 victory. Froling finished with 28 points, 19 rebounds – 17 defensive – five assists and four steals, while Mariah Payne (22 points, five rebounds and six assists) and Teyla Evans (15 points, six rebounds and five assists) were other double-digit scorers. For the Rush, Alicia Froling hit up 27 points, seven rebounds and four blocks to be the best of the losers, while Kasey Burton (13 points, seven rebounds and three assists) and Kristy Rinaldi (10 points, four rebounds and three assists) were both strong.

Nunawading Spectres (83) defeated Sandringham Sabres (70)

Nunawading Spectres bounced back from a Round 1 loss to hand the Sandringham Sabres their first loss in three games. The Sabres took control to lead by six points at half-time, but having already played a game this round, the Sabres tired in the second half as the Spectres ran over the top of them, courtesy of a dominant 44-25 half to win, 83-70. Izzy Wright (21 points, nine rebounds) and Louise Brown (20 points, five rebounds and four assists) did the damage on the scoreboard, with Rachel Antoniadou (18 points, four rebounds and five assists) not far behind. Rachel Brewster (14 points, 12 rebounds) and Penina Davidson (10 points, 10 rebounds) also picked up double-doubles to share the load across the court. O’Hea was again the standout for the Sabres, picking up 27 points and eight rebounds not leaving the court for a second, while Jarry (16 points, 12 rebounds and two assists) and Amy O’Neill (six points, 11 rebounds) were prominent off the boards.

Waverley Falcons (74) defeated Diamond Valley Eagles (66)

After their heartbreaking one-point loss last week the Waverley Falcons bounced back to win by eight points against Diamond Valley Eagles, handing their opponents a third consecutive loss in the process. The Falcons were led by Aneta Bandilovska (20 points, two rebounds and two assists) on the scoring front, with Renae Mokrzycki (11 points, 11 rebounds, three assists and four steals) recording a double-double. Nyakoang Lok (15 points, three rebounds, three steals and two assists) and Kelly Bowen (13 points, five rebounds) were the other double-digit scorers. For the Eagles, Burrows scored a double-double of 14 points, 10 rebounds and four steals, while Jade Dunne (17 points, four assists, four steals and two rebounds) and Olivia Bontempelli (12 points, five rebounds and two locks) were also steadfast in the loss.

Picture credit: Ian Knight Photography

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2020 WNBL Round 5 preview: Last chance for teams to make mark

ROUND 5 of the Women’s National Basketball League (WNBL) is finally here. The last round of the season, and five teams are fighting for four spots, with the top two unable to be moved, and the next two almost there, whilst the fifth placed side has a huge week to try and grab a late spot in the post-season series.

Adelaide Lightning

Position: 5th
Wins: 4
Losses: 5

To make finals?

The Lightning need to win all four games and hope either the Fire or Boomers lose all of their games. Could finish as low as seventh if Perth and Sydney Uni win games in the final round.

Round 5 fixtures:

Tue, Dec 8 @ Cairns vs. Melbourne Boomers
Wed, Dec 9 @ Cairns vs. Bendigo Spirit
Fri, Dec 11 @ Cairns vs. Townsville Fire
Sun, Dec 13 @ Townsville vs. Sydney Uni Flames

After starting off strongly with a 4-1 start, the Lightning have slumped to a four-game losing streak to now be perilously close to missing out on finals. They need a lot to go right in the run home, though one benefit is playing both the Boomers and Fire who hold onto the spots they needs. If they can win those, they should go 4-0, but even then need at least one of those sides to have a shock loss.

Steph Talbot has been the standout this season, averaging 20.0 points, 9.6 rebounds, 3.8 assists, 1.8 steals and 1.0 block per game, providing some continuity to the side along with Chelsea Brook (10.4 points, 4.5 rebounds, 1.5 assists). Abigail Wehrung (11.8 points, 2.8 rebounds and 2.5 assists) and Alex Wilson (11.3 points, 5.8 rebounds and 4.8 assists) have certainly shone but they need to have a big finish in the final round.

 

Bendigo Spirit

Position: 8th
Wins: 0
Losses: 11th

To make finals?

They can’t. In fact they cannot even get off the bottom. Just pride on the line for Bendigo in the Spirit’s final two matches.

Round 5 fixtures:

Wed, Dec 9 @ Cairns vs. Adelaide Lightning
Fri, Dec 11 @ Cairns vs. Melbourne Boomers

It has been a disappointing season for the Spirit, but not completely unexpected given the youth they have been pushing through the program. Having lost the likes of Shyla Heal and Abigail Wehrung over the off-season, the Spirit were quite inexperienced, and while they have been overawed, have had some promising moments for the future.

Tessa Lavey (16.0 points, 4.5 rebounds, 5.9 assists and 1.1 steals) and Carley Ernst (15.3 points, 7.3 rebounds, 1.8 assists and 1.0 block) have ben the standout players all season, and have just been searching for more consistent support across the side. Demi Skinner (6.9 points, 2.4 rebounds) and Mary Goulding (5.9 points, 4.0 rebounds) have provided some special moments, while Piper Dunlop (2.7 points, 1.8 rebounds) is one for the future.

 

Melbourne Boomers

Position: 3rd
Wins: 7
Losses: 3

To make finals?

Not lose every game and allow the Lightning to win every game. It is a certainty barring a massive disaster. In fact, even defeating Adelaide tonight guarantees them a spot.

Round 5 fixtures:

Tue, Dec 8 @ Cairns vs. Adelaide Lightning
Fri, Dec 11 @ Cairns vs. Bendigo Spirit
Sun, Dec 13 @ Townsville vs. Townsville Fire

The Boomers can lock up a finals spot with a win tonight over Adelaide, but realistically they should have no issues casting aside Bendigo on Friday. A grudge match against Townsville looms as a massive final day encounter, with the winner potentially taking third spot, and the loser left for fourth.

Ezi Magbegor and Cayla George combine to be two of the best bigs in the league with the way they have really begun dominating each game of late, not that it should come as any surprise. The two Opals are experts at their craft, and George is averaging 14.3 points, 8.5 rebounds, 3.6 assists and 1.3 steals, while Magbegor has put up 14.2 points, 8.3 rebounds, 1.3 assists and 1.0 block. Tess Madgen (14.6 points, 5.6 rebounds and 6.3 assists) has provided all-round support for the Boomers, while Maddie Garrick (10.6 points, 2.3 rebounds and 1.8 assists) is the other top scorer on the side.

 

Perth Lynx

Position: 6th
Wins: 4
Losses: 7

To make finals?

They cannot. Unfortunately the Lynx left their run a little too late, and even two wins in the final round sees them fall short.

Round 5 fixtures:

Tue, Dec 8 @ Townsville vs. Sydney Uni
Thu, Dec 10 @ Townsville vs. UC Capitals

After a poor 1-7 start and only a victory against the winless Bendigo, the Lynx have found their feet in the past week, winning three straight games, and boosting themselves to a 4-7 record which saw them leapfrog Sydney Uni Flames. A win over the Flames tonight guarantees them a top six spot, while they could derail the Capitals plans with a victory on Thursday. Perth will be the first team to finish the WNBL season after Thursday.

Darcee Garbin has had a remarkable season and just keeps getting better, with the ex-Fire talent now up to 17.3 points, 7.2 rebounds and 1.0 steals per game, sharing the load perfectly with Katie-Rae Ebzery (17.0 points, 4.2 rebounds and 4.3 assists). Alex Ciabattoni has been a welcome addition to the squad as a two-way player with 10.6 points, 3.0 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 1.0 steal per game, while the rebounding duo of Alex Sharp (8.7 points, 7.8 rebounds) and Kayla Steindl (6.3 points, 7.9 rebounds) has ensured the Lynx remain competitive.

 

Southside Flyers

Position: 1st
Wins: 9
Losses: 2

To make finals?

Never looked like not making it, with top spot to likely be decided in the final round clash against the Capitals.

Round 5 fixtures:

Thu, Dec 10 @ Townsville vs. Sydney Uni
Sun, Dec 13 @ Townsville vs. UC Capitals

Now on a five-game winning streak and having taken care of the Boomers after an earlier loss, the Flyers face their other nemesis in UC Capitals in the final round. Southside has plenty of talent with the Capitals and Boomers arguably the only two teams able to have their measure, and as such should have no problems against the Flames on Thursday, then decide top spot with the Capitals on Sunday.

Liz Cambage has been unstoppable at the level since coming back from the WNBA, racking up 24.1 points, 8.1 rebounds and 2.0 blocks per game. Sara Blicavs (14.5 points, 7.5 rebounds and 1.4 steals) has relished the focus going off her this season, while Rebecca Cole (13.7 points, 4.2 assists and 2.4 rebounds) and Jenna O’Hea (11.5 points, 3.9 rebounds, 3.8 assists and 1.7 steals) have also provided all-round support. It is hard to forget Leilani Mitchell who has been an assist-machine, picking up 6.5 dimes per game to go with her 8.1 points.

 

Sydney Uni Flames

Position: 7th
Wins: 3
Losses: 7

To make finals?

They cannot, but they could leap as high as fifth if they can win their last three games and results go their way in other matches.

Round 5 fixtures:

Tue, Dec 8 @ Townsville vs. Perth Lynx
Thu, Dec 10 @ Townsville vs. Southside Flyers
Sun, Dec 13 @ Townsville vs. Adelaide Lightning

The Flames cannot make finals, but have the potential to pick up a couple more wins in the run home and rise as high as fifth on the table. While the top of the table Southside Flyers will be tough to knock off, the Lynx and Lightning either side of that game, tonight and Sunday are winnable matches for Sydney Uni.

Ex-Perth stars Lauren Mansfield (12.6 points, 2.2 rebounds and 4.8 assists) and Alison Schwagmeyer (12.4 points, 5.8 rebounds, 3.1 assists and 2.3 steals) have combined brilliantly in the back court this season since crossing the country. Lauren Scherf has remained steady in the five spot with 10.9 points, 7.4 rebounds and 1.3 blocks, whilst Anneli Maley has been a revelation thanks to 11.4 rebounds to go with her 6.8 points.

 

Townsville Fire

Position: 4th
Wins: 7
Losses: 4

To make finals?

Similar position to Melbourne, needing one win to secure a Top 4 spot, and can only drop out if they lose them all and the Lightning win them all. Will know if they have to play for a finals spot by the time their first game rolls around.

Round 5 fixtures:

Fri, Dec 11 @ Cairns vs. Adelaide Lightning
Sun, Dec 13 @ Townsville vs. Melbourne Boomers

The Fire are on the verge of bouncing back from last year’s wooden spoon to playing finals this year, but must knock off Adelaide Lightning on Friday. They do that and it will be all secure, before a huge playoff for third takes place against Melbourne Boomers on Sunday. Until Friday, the Fire have the longest rest leading up to the final round.

The back court duo of Lauren Nicholson and Shyla Heal is the best in the competition with the pair providing the majority of the team’s points throughout the 2020 season. Nicholson has put up 18.4 points, 3.5 rebounds and 1.4 steals, while Heal has managed 17.1 points, 4.5 rebounds, 3.6 assists and 1.2 steals in their 10 games this season. Zitina Aokuso just keeps getting better and got the start last match, and is almost up to 10 points per game (9.7) coming off the bench, to go with 5.9 rebounds per match. Nadeen Payne (8.4 points, 6.7 rebounds) has provided great support in that area.

 

UC Capitals

Position: 2nd
Wins: 8
Losses: 3

To make finals?

They are in, and like the Flyers, have looked in since bouncing back from a surprise opening night loss. Top spot will be up for grabs in the last match against the Flyers if the Capitals win their first match.

Round 5 fixtures:

Thu, Dec 10 @ Townsville vs. Perth Lynx
Sun, Dec 13 @ Townsville vs. Southside Flyers

The reigning back-to-back premiers had a disappointing loss to Townsville Fire which saw them slip to second on the table, and now they have to bounce back with wins against Perth Lynx, and finish off against title favourites, Southside Flyers. The Capitals beat them last time they faced off and will be hoping to do so again, with their defensive mindset key to containing the Flyers’ bigs.

Kelsey Griffin has just been building all season for this pointy end, now averaging 11.8 points. 7.7 rebounds and 1.3 steals per game, teaming up well with co-captain Marianna Tolo (10.3 points, 5.6 rebounds and 1.1 blocks). The youth coming through the guard spots in Maddison Rocci (15.7 points, 3.1 rebounds, 2.9 assists and 2.3 steals) and Jade Melbourne (8.0 points, 2.8 rebounds and 2.0 assists) has been a delight for the future, while Keely Froling (9.7 points, 6.0 rebounds) has pieced together a really strong season.

Picture: Ian Hitchcock/Getty Images

Flames survive second term scare from Spirit

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Picture credit: WNBL

Flyers exact revenge on Boomers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Melbourne find late-season form, rout Spirit 84-52

AFTER an even first quarter from both sides, the Melbourne Boomers ran away with Saturday’s only game in the remaining three quarters against the Bendigo Spirit, namely in the middle two periods where last year’s semi-finalists outscored their opponents 42-14, ultimately concluding matters 84-52 and extending their winning streak to four.

Given the Boomers’ red-hot form as of late, it did not shock many when Melbourne opened up the contest with a 7-0 run, which acted as a prelude to what would be a strong initial term for Guy Molloy’s squad.

Despite its opponent’s exceptional start to the game, Bendigo worked its way back into the contest leading into the first break. Backing their duo of Carley Ernst and Tessa Lavey, who had eight and six points respectively, the Spirit found themselves level with the Boomers 20-20 after 10 minutes of play, one of their best opening periods to date.

Again, the Boomers strung together another sizeable scoring run to start the second, concocting 14-straight points over the opening five minutes of the period and really separating themselves from this season’s likely wooden-spooners after an even first term.

Cayla George made her impact visible in the later stages of the first two quarters, accumulating 13 points, five rebounds and three assists as she led the charge in gaining her side a 38-23 half-time score line.

But with Tracy York’s side converting on just a single field goal in the second, it allowed Melbourne to take control of the contest and secure the driver’s seat in the process, thanks to individual efforts like Ezi Magbegor and Ashleigh Karaitiana’s in the first half.

Putting their advantage over 20 points in the penultimate period, the Boomers run to the finish line became relatively uneventful as they gave their secondary unit an abundance of court time in the second half.

Coach Molloy’s bench held their own to conclude the third, extending their side’s lead to 28 points at the turn of the third with Bendigo totalling just 11 points in the third quarter, and 14 total points over the two middle stanzas.

While the Boomers rested their star players, the Spirit did the same as we got to see some up and coming talent show off their quality from both squads. Melbourne would eventually topple Bendigo by 32 points and stretch their winning streak to four matches.

Quite simply, Melbourne blew Bendigo out of the water following the opening quarter and maintained a substantially high shooting percentage, converting on 41 per cent of its attempts (33/80), whereas the Spirit managed a meek 27 per cent on the night. Additionally, coming out superior on the boards with a plus-24, the Boomers destroyed their counterparts on the glass.

George would only add two more points to her 15 in total, while Penina Davidson made the most of her increased court time with 15 points of her own in almost 16 minutes of game time. Magbegor would finish with a humble 12 points and 10 rebounds, while Izzy Wright (nine points and five rebounds) and Kalani Purcell (nine points and three rebounds) were the team’s next highest contributors.

In a quiet night across the board for the Spirit, not one individual would compile more than eight points by the final buzzer, as Ernst earned her team-high eighth point before half-time and gathered seven rebounds in the process. Demi Skinner rounded out her afternoon with seven points, meanwhile 17-year-old rising star Piper Dunlop tallied a season-best seven points and three rebounds.

Both sides make their returns to the court later today as all eight teams are scheduled to play in Sunday’s Round 4 action. Bendigo will open up proceedings against the Sydney Uni Flames, where the Spirit have only a couple more chances to get into the winner’s column before the season’s end. The Boomers have their work cut out for them when they size up the Southside Flyers, who did not play a particularly good brand of basketball in their last meeting – a memory they will look to rectify this time around. More importantly it will set the tone for both teams with finals play just around the corner.

Boomers down ladder leaders, UC Capitals in close encounter

IT was a make or break game for the Melbourne Boomers who had their work cut out for them up against back-to-back premiers UC Capitals but did not disappoint stealing a six point victory (67-73). Heading into the clash the Boomers had a record of 4-1 and were stuck outside the top four with a big week of basketball to come showcasing just how monumental win was in dictating potential ladder position. The victory also proved that their best is definitely good enough to take down the ladder leaders and make a real push for a finals berth.

The lead ebbed and flowed throughout the game testament to the high quality players and all-star teams both the Caps and Boomers have before the Melbourne side forged ahead in the second half to create some strong momentum. Scoring seemed to well and truly dry up in the final quarter with both teams not finding the basket as regularly as normal however that played into the hands of the Boomers who held onto the lead and were not keen on relinquishing the buffer they had established.

Overall shooting accuracy was down for both sides however it was the Boomers that held a marginal upper hand converting at 40 per cent sinking 27 of their 67 shots. The Capitals only managed 34 per cent from the field and really struggled to find their radar from deep only nailing seven of their 21 attempts at 33 per cent while the Boomers managed a 40 per cent clip. Despite not leading on the scoring front UC impressed with rebounds collecting 45 to 40 while also registering one more assist than their opponents (17-16). Blocks were a major difference between the two sides with the Boomers showcasing their clear intent to stop the Caps in their tracks amassing six more than the ladder leaders (7-1) while they were also cleaner with ball in hand only giving up possession nine times compared to 11. The Boomers did the most damage inside the paint knocking back an impressive 34 points as opposed to 24.

There was an even spread of points scorers for the victors but it was Madeleine Garrick that recorded a game-high 19 points to accompany her three rebounds and one assist. Youngster Ezi Magbegor had a day out amassing a double-double thanks to her 18 points and 13 rebounds while teammate Tess Madgen also showcased her prowess knocking back 14 points, seven rebounds and eight assists in an all round solid performance. Captain Cayla George also proved to be a handy option adding 10 points to the tally while also collecting four rebounds and an assist, enough to get her side over the line.

The Caps were down on their usual high output and production with the topscorer the ever-reliable Kelsey Griffin who finished with 16 points, six rebounds and an assist to her name. the next closest was Maddison Rocci with 11 points while the only other player to record double digits for points was Brittany Smart with 10. Keely Froling had an impressive strake rate going at 42 per cent but only managed the nine points in what was a missed opportunity for the Caps. Mariana Tolo might not have been as productive on the scoreboard but was a huge threat off the boards dragging in an impressive 12 rebounds.

It is a tight turnaround for the Boomers who face off with Sydney Uni Flames tomorrow in another must win clash if they are to really stamp their authority on the competition. The Caps have a little bit more time, not playing until Friday but are set to face the Lightning who have proven to be a real threat when on song and raring to go.

Perth honour captain with a 16 point win

WNBL (Getty images)

Down at the opening break Perth turned on the afterburners for the remaining three quarters to hand Bendigo their ninth straight loss (95-79) and honour captain Katie Ebzery in the best way possible her 300th game. It was a slow start to the higher ranked Perth as the Spirit came out with a real intensity and desperation but they simply could not maintain that high level with the Lynx wearing them down and finding the basket with great ease as the game went on.

An explosive second term, really turned the tables into Perth’s favour sinking 30 points to 14 to create some scoreboard separation and put the Spirit well and truly onto the back foot. They continued that hot form into the second half outscoring Bendigo 49-43 showcasing their ability to work their way back into the contest and then maintain that element of control.

Perth made the most of their opportunities when close to the rim sitting at 50 per cent while Bendigo failed to find their range converting at a mere 38 per cent. The Lynx did their most damage when within two point range nailing 28 of their 41 attempts going at an impressive 68 per cent, 20 per cent more than their opponents who only managed to find the basket 17 out of their 35 attempts. Bendigo however were strong from beyond the arc boasting a higher three-point percentage of 29 and better accuracy from the free throw chugging along at 80 per cent compared to 68. Perth did not miss a beat on the rebounding front dragging down 47-36 while also impressing with ball in hand to record 25 assists to 20. They also led the way in steals with 5-3 and had less turnovers (7-9) in an overall clean and tidy game from both sides.

The return home for Darcee Garbin has done nothing but allow the youngster to flourish collecting an impressive game-high 28 points. Garbin proved to be the go-to girl for Perth finding the basket with great ease and converting at 50 per cent while also managed five rebounds and two assists. She was well aided by the likes of captain Katie Ebzery who knocked back 21 points, four rebounds and five assists in her 35 and a half minutes on court. The efforts of Alexandra Sharp did not go unnoticed with the guard starring with her staggering 17 rebounds, 13 of which were defensive along with her 12 points. Kayla Steindl also managed to chime in with her 13 points and fell just short of a double-double with nine rebounds while the only other player to make double figures was Alex Ciabattoni with 11 in her 30 minutes on court.

For Bendigo it was the usual standouts that stepped up to the plate and delivered with Tessa Lavey leading the charge thanks to her 23 points, seven rebounds and five assists in her 40 minutes. The next best was Demi Skinner who slotted 17 points to keep the scoreboard ticking over while also picking up six rebounds and two assists. The reliable, Carley Ernst once again plied her trade knocking back 16 points but could have had more had she been more consistent from the field converting at 35 per cent. She also collected eight rebounds and five assists while Amelia Todhunter proved to be handy off the bench with nine points, three rebounds and four assists.

Bendigo are still on the hunt for their first win of the season and their job does not get any easier set to lock horns with the Melbourne Boomers on Saturday while Perth face off with the fifth placed Townsville Fire.

Southside dazzle in 40 point victory over Perth

SOUTHSIDE made light work of Perth Lynx claiming a convincing 40 point victory over the bottom two side (102-62). Lynx simply could not compete with the star power of the Flyers, blown out of the water from the opening term where Southside piled on 27 points to 17. The Flyers won every term by a decent margin, showcasing their ability to put their foot down and star with their ball movement, attack and overall class.

Despite Perth edging out to an early five point lead in the first quarter the Flyers flexed their muscles as the quarter went on shutting down their opposition and using their own weapons to full effect. Boasting plenty of x-factor Southside rallied to steal the lead and subsequently swing the momentum in their favour – which from that moment on, never left.

The Flyers led in every significant area shooting at a 62 per cent clip from two-point range while also highlighting their skill from downtown going at 41 per cent, nailing 12 of 29 attempts, compared to Perth who struggled to find their rhythm sitting at 26 per cent. When it came to rebounds the Flyers just pipped Lynx at the post (40-38) while they also dominated assists showcasing their willingness to dish the ball off and share it around, more than doubling their opponents (26-12). Turnovers were another main focal point and an area Perth would not be overly happy to lead in, amassing 27 while the Flyers treasured the ball only recording 12.

It is no surprise that superstar Liz Cambage led the way for Southside recording a game-high 23 points for her efforts while shooting at an overall field goal percentage of 56 per cent. Cambage also managed to ply her trade off the backboards picking up eight rebounds, six of which were defensive while also registering a block. Leilani Mitchell was not far off Cambage with the guard putting up shots from everywhere and most importantly converting at a 77 per cent rate. She walked away with 20 points to her name along with two rebounds, one assist and a steal. The ever-reliable Jenna O’Hea once again stepped up to the plate in her 21 minutes on court sinking 10 points to fill out an already impressive stats sheet of three rebounds, five assists, two steals and a block. The only other player to reach double digits for points was Sara Blicavs who recorded 20 points and seven rebounds. In a clear testament to their bench depth Monique Conti managed nine points while teammate Aimie Clydesdale also chimed in with a handy seven points of her own.

Although the Lynx could not get the job done, a couple of key players proved their worth and impact with Alexandra Sharp starring with her 17 points and five rebounds. The next closest was captain Katie Ebzery who was well and truly down on her lofty standards only managing nine points, four rebounds and four assists. It could have been a big evening for the captain if she had been more accurate shooting at a 37 per cent clip and only nailing one of her five attempts from beyond the arc. Jessie Edwards made her presence felt in her 23 minutes on court knocking back eight points and seven rebounds. She was well aided by the likes of Emma Clarke who slotted seven points and three rebounds while Ashleigh Isenbarger also chipped in with a handy eight points, six rebounds and two assists.

Unfortunately for Lynx the job does not get any easier faced with the UC Capitals tonight who are on a five game winning streak, while Southside will be gearing up for an enthralling clash with Townsville Fire who have been in ripping form the past couple of outings.

Lightning hold off gallant Spirit side

Photo by Ian Hitchcock/Getty Images

It was a nail-biting encounter from the opening jump ball with Bendigo Spirit throwing everything they had at Adelaide Lightning only to fall agonisingly short of their first win for the 2020 season (83-89). The class and execution of Adelaide came to fruition, able to withstand the pressure and come out the other side to record their third win of the condensed season.

The lead ebbed and flowed throughout the match with Bendigo claiming the ascendancy heading into the half time break and it looked like it could continue that way with Tessa Lavey dictating the play and opening up a seven point lead midway through the third. But the Lightning struck back with some clever play to outscore the Spirit in the second half 47 to 40. Bendigo seemed to tire as the game went on and were unable to go with Adelaide who kicked it up a gear and could sense a win in the making.

Adelaide had the upper hand when it came to overall field goal percentage going at 44 per cent compared to Bendigo who only converted at 33 per cent. However when it came to three point shooting, Bendigo convert4e 14 of 34 attempts at 41 per cent as Adelaide only managed a 33 per cent clip nailing nine of their 27 attempts. On the rebounding front the Spirit also seemed to have the upper hand reeling in 47 compared to 44. Assists were relatively even with only one splitting the two sides, 18 to 19, while when it came to steals the Lightning showcased their defensive mindset picking up seven opposed to the Spirit’s four.

Despite the loss Carly Ernst was a key figure in the Bendigo outfit, knocking back 22 points, however she shot at a lowly 33 per cent – something she would be hoping to improve on for future games. She also managed a double-double thanks to her eleven rebounds, ten of which were defensive, while also accumulating two assists. It is fair to say that Lavey stole the show starring in her 40 minutes out on court and managing 33 points, nailing four of six shots from three-point range at 66 per cent while also recording three rebounds and six assists. Outside of the aforementioned duo, Demi Skinner was the only other main contributor slotting 17 points in her 21 minutes on court while also amassing three rebounds and one assist in her sides loss.

For the Lightning it is no surprise that Steph Talbot was once again one of the best on court recording 22 points, 12 rebounds (nine defensive) and five assists to cap off an important win. Talbot was impressive from the field  going at 63 per cent but it was Alex Wilson that topped the table for Adelaide recording 23 points, six rebounds and six assists to really push her side over the line. Abigail Wehrung also chimed in with a handy 15 points in her 28 and a half minutes on court showcasing her ability to stand up under pressure and deliver. Marena Whittle plied her trade off the boards collecting eight rebounds to accompany her eight points while the only other player to make a real splash was Louella Tomlinson who slotted eight points.

Lightning are set to come up against Sydney Uni Flames on Saturday while the winless Bendigo have UC Capital next.

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

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

Townsville Fire

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

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

WHY THEY CAN WIN IT:

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

WHY THEY CAN’T WIN IT:

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

CHANGES:

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

POTENTIAL STARTING FIVE:

Lauren Nicholson
Shyla Heal
Mia Murray
Nadeen Payne
Zitina Aokuso

>> Townsville Fire team preview

PREDICTION: 4th-6th

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

Sydney Uni Flames

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

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

WHY THEY CAN WIN IT:

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

WHY THEY CAN’T WIN IT:

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

CHANGES:

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

POTENTIAL STARTING FIVE:

Lauren Mansfield
Alison Schwagmeyer
Anneli Maley
Natalie Burton
Lauren Scherf

>> Sydney Uni Flames team preview

PREDICTION: 4th-7th

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

Bendigo Spirit

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

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

WHY THEY CAN WIN IT:

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

WHY THEY CAN’T WIN IT:

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

CHANGES:

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

POTENTIAL STARTING FIVE:

Amelia Todhunter
Tessa Lavey
Demi Skinner
Alicia Froling
Carley Ernst

>> Bendigo Spirit team preview

PREDICTION: 7th-8th

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

Perth Lynx

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

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

WHY THEY CAN WIN IT:

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

WHY THEY CAN’T WIN IT:

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

CHANGES:

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

POTENTIAL STARTING FIVE:

Katie Ebzery
Alexandra Sharp
Alex Ciabattoni
Darcee Garbin
Jessie Edwards

>> Perth Lynx team preview

PREDICTION: 6th-8th

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